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Summary

  1. MEP Guy Verhofstadt gives Brexit update to committee
  2. European Parliament has to ratify final UK-EU deal
  3. MEPs set out red lines for talks last month
  4. Portuguese academic gives evidence on EU/UK citizens' rights

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

EU citizenship 'only focuses on rights'

Constitutional affairs committee

European Parliament

Brussels

On a more broader point, he says that EU citizenship has exposed a division between division "two categories" of citizen - the mobile and the non-mobile. 

He adds that one of the flaws with the idea of EU citizenship at the moment is that it is seen as something that is only of benefit to mobile people who want to move around. 

He also says EU citizenship is only focused on rights - rather than rights that are tied to duties. 

He also tells MEPs that the way the EU is funded also obscures how the bloc is funded. 

And with that, his evidence session in front of the committee comes to an end. 

British courts 'should be trusted' on rights enforcement

Constitutional affairs committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Prof Maduro says he thinks the likelihood of lots of people moving before the cut-off date is "low" but says there are mechanisms within EU law to deal with it. 

He says a crucial issue will be how any citizens' rights are interpreted and enforced after Brexit.

He suggests that the Commission is proposing a solution that is "very similar" to that which applies to EEA countries - with the UK continuing to be bound by previous European case law. 

He adds that he would trust British courts to apply those rights, noting that the British judicial system has shown a "great degree of loyalty" to European legal standards. 

Prof Maduro
EBS

Academic in warning on cut-off date for EU rights

Constitutional affairs committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Miguel Poiares Maduro
EBS

Prof Maduro continues that the possibility has also been raised that people that some British citizens could keep EU rights whilst others do not. 

He describes such an arrangement as a "bit of a provocation" but says that in principle, it would "not be impossible" for certain parts of the UK to stay within the EU. 

He adds however that this would require an internal border and would be "very problematic in political terms". 

On the question of EU citizens in Britain, he says he feels that choosing a cut-off date before the official withdrawal date would effectively "limit" the rights of EU citizens whilst the UK is still a member. 

He adds that there is "no alternative" therefore to choosing the withdrawal date as the cut-off point. 

Portuguese academic gives evidence on citizens' rights

Constitutional affairs committee

European Parliament

Brussels

With Guy Verhofstadt's evidence session finished, MEPs are now hearing from Portuguese academic and former government minister Miguel Poiares Maduro on the issue of citizens' rights. 

He tells MEPs that the issues to be decided include the "cut-off date" for safeguarding the rights of EU citizens in the UK - whether it should be the date of Article 50 notification or the official withdrawal.

He adds that a "first strategy" to address this would be to "decouple" the rights enjoyed by UK and EU citizens from the concept of EU citizenship itself - which he describes as a "possibility". 

Miguel Poiares Maduro
EBS

Uncertainty on citizens' rights 'destroying lives'

Constitutional affairs committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Guy Verhofstadt
EBS

Responding to the list of MEPs' questions, Guy Verhofstadt says that that the uncertainty surrounding the future citizens needs to be settled as early as possible, as it is "destroying lives". 

However he says the final agreement on citizens' rights will only be "formalised" when agreement on the whole deal is reached. 

He adds that the two sides should aim to agree on "sound accounting principles" for agreeing a final financial settlement. 

He tells MEPs that the demand for a final payment is "nothing to do with punishment or revenge". 

Verhofstadt: 'Difficult to assess' UK proposals

Constitutional affairs committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Responding to a question from Swedish MEP Max Andersson, Guy Verhofstadt says that he is also worries about what he called a "car crash Brexit", with the two sides failing to reach an agreement. 

However he says that the goal of the talks should be "to find a new partnership" with the UK. 

Not reaching a deal, he adds, would be "bad for everybody" but a "hard hit" for the UK. 

He adds that at the moment, it is "difficult to assess" proposals from the British government. 

Guy Verhofstadt
EBS

Diane James: British opinion 'inflamed' by leaks

Constitutional affairs committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Diane James
EBS

Former UKIP leader Diane James says Mr Verhofstadt is taking a "hard line" on the forthcoming talks.

She says it is "to be expected" that both sides will draw red lines before the negotiations begin, but that public opinion in the UK has been "inflamed" by the leaking of details of Theresa May's dinner with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker last week. 

She says this is a continuation of the "bullying coming out of the European Union".  

Labour MEP Richard Corbett asks Mr Verhofstadt for his assessment of whether he thinks British politicians understand the Brexit procedure "in general". 

He says the UK government has failed to "spell out" a number of things, such as whether it intends to stay in the customs union and continue participating in certain EU agencies. 

EU Court demand 'will cause serious conflict' - MEP

Constitutional affairs committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Gyorgy Schopflin
EBS

Hungarian Fidesz MEP Gyorgy Schopflin says that the negotiations will inevitably be affected by "unexpected events" such as the calling of the General Election in the UK. 

He asks Guy Verhofstadt whether he feels British politicians are aware of the role the European Parliament will play in the talks - adding he feels this has not yet "sunk in". 

He also predicts that insisting the EU Court of Justice oversees the deal will cause "very serious conflict" with the UK. 

MEPs to 'give opinion' on progress of talks

Constitutional affairs committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Guy Verhofstadt
EBS

Mr Verhofstadt says that EU leaders will judge whether "sufficient progress" has been made on the early negotiating points, before deciding whether to begin talks on a trade deal. 

He says that the European Parliament will "give its opinion" on this towards the end of the year in the form of a resolution voted on during a plenary sitting of the assembly. 

He suggests that this could occur in October or November. 

He also adds that an association agreement negotiated under Article 217 of the EU's treaties appears to be the "right framework" for establishing the future UK-EU relationship. 

Verhofstadt: UK should pay 'contingent liabilities'

Constitutional affairs committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Guy Verhofstadt
EBS

Guy Verhofstadt also gives an overview of the negotiating directives that will be launched later by the European Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. 

He says the directives will include sections on citizens' rights, the final financial settlement to be demanded of the UK, and arrangements for oversight of the deal by the EU's Court of Justice. 

He adds that talks over citizens' rights should be "point one" in the negotiations so that millions of people no longer "continue to live in uncertainty". 

He says that the financial settlement should cover the UK's existing budget commitments, as well as "contingent liabilities" - such as guarantees to cover bailout loans. 

'Enormous similarity' with EU leaders' position - Verhofstadt

Constitutional affairs committee

European Parliament

Brussels

Guy Verhofstadt
EBS

Guy Verhofstadt tells MEPs that their motion last month to set out red lines for the talks was supported by an "overwhelming majority" - and five of the assembly's eight political groups. 

He says there is "enormous similarity" between their demands and the guidelines officially adopted by EU leaders last weekend. 

He adds that a "Brexit steering group" from the political groups backing the motion will be set up to monitor the progress of talks. 

What are the Parliament’s red lines?

Constitutional affairs committee

Flags outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg
European Parliament

The motion adopted last month backed a number of positions taken by EU leaders, including the need for a phased approach to negotiations.

This would require progress on the terms of Britain's withdrawal, including settling financial commitments, before talks on a future trading relationship can start.

It also backs the call for transparency in the talks, and for the UK to be considered liable for financial commitments that apply after it leaves the EU.

It also says:

  • transitional arrangements should be time-limited to three years and be enforced by the EU's Court of Justice
  • UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in Britain should receive "reciprocal" treatment
  • the final deal should not include a "trade-off" between trade and security co-operation
  • the UK should adhere to EU environmental and anti-tax evasion standards to get close trade ties
  • the European Banking Authority and European Medicines Agency should be moved out of London
  • the UK should pay towards costs for the EU that "arise directly from its withdrawal" 

Good morning

Constitutional affairs committee

Guy Verhofstadt
EPA

Hello and welcome to coverage of this meeting of the European Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee.

The sitting will be beginning shortly, when the assembly’s Brexit spokesman Guy Verhofstadt will be giving an update on preparations for Brexit talks.

It will be the first time he has appeared before the committee since MEPs adopted their red lines for the forthcoming Brexit talks last month.

MEPs will have to ratify the final deal before it can be agreed by EU leaders.

On Monday Mr Verhofstadt appeared to mock Theresa May by adapting her election campaign slogan to tweet that “strong and stable understanding” of “complex issues” would be required to reach a deal, and that it was “time to get real”.  

MEPs will also be taking evidence on the issue of EU and UK citizens’ rights from Portuguese academic and former government minister Miguel Poiares Maduro.