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Summary

  1. Hearing on EU citizens' rights in UK after Brexit
  2. Issue is expected to be early point in negotiations
  3. MEPs take evidence from campaigners and experts
  4. Guy Verhofstadt calls for citizens' rights deal to be published before Brexit talks officially end

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Goodbye

That's it from our coverage of this hearing on EU citizens' rights at the European Parliament in Brussels. 

MEPs will be back next week for their plenary sitting between Monday and Thursday in Strasbourg. 

UKIP MEP: Article 50 'wrong way' to leave EU

European Parliament hearing on citizens' rights

European Parliament

Brussels

Gerard Batten
EP

UKIP MEP Gerard Batten criticises previous interventions from Remain-voting British MEPs, adding that the object of today's hearing is about "reversing the referendum decision".

He says the negotiating under Article 50 is "entirely the wrong way" to go about leaving the EU - arguing that the UK should simply repeal the European Communities Act and "tell the EU" how Brexit will be achieved. 

He questions how the "vested rights" of EU citizens to use British public services is to be paid for, adding that Britain is a net contributor to the EU's budget. 

Committee chair Renate Weber cuts him off, arguing that he has gone over his speaking time - prompting a response from him that Guy Verhofstadt was allowed to go over time.

Dutch MEP calls for 'contingency' on citizens' issues

European Parliament

Brussels

Sophia in't Veld
European Parliament

Dutch Liberal MEP Sophia in't Veld tells the hearing that allowing uncertainty to continue is "a matter of choice". 

She says there should be "some sort of contingency" on what to do about the status of citizens if the Article 50 talks break down. 

Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder says she fears that time "is not on our side" when it comes to resolving the various issues connected to guaranteeing residency rights. 

Academic: ECJ oversight 'not reasonable demand'

European Parliament hearing on citizens' rights

European Parliament

Brussels

Jonathan Portes
EBS

Jonathan Portes, from King's College London, says it is about time that the UK and EU governments "got their act together" on the issue of citizens' rights. 

He says it is "regrettable" that the remaining 27 EU countries refused to make a political declaration or enter into technical discussions on the issue until the UK triggered Article 50. 

He adds that this also "gave the UK government cover" to say that nothing could be done.

He says that the EU's request for new arrangements to be overseen by the ECJ, on which a post-Brexit UK would have no representation, does not appear to him to be a reasonable demand. 

Explaining this to people in Britain, he adds, would present "significant political challenges".   

He also suggests that the issue of citizens' rights should be "decoupled" from the other areas in the talks, to avoid people's futures being "held hostage" by disagreements over financial liabilities. 

What’s the UK government’s position?

European Parliament hearing on citizens' rights

David Davis
Reuters

The UK government has also said it wants uncertainty surrounding the rights of UK and EU citizens to be resolved as soon as possible in the negotiations.

Its white paper on the negotiations also acknowledges “the contribution EU nationals have made to our economy and communities”.

However ministers say they must ensure the rights of British citizens in Europe will be fully protected before they can agree to extend this to EU citizens in the UK. 

Academic: 'Huge demand' to study in UK

European Parliament hearing on citizens' rights

European Parliament

Brussels

Charlie Jeffery
EBS

Charlie Jeffery, from the University of Edinburgh, tells the MEPs that the Erasmus student exchange scheme has been of "mutual benefit" to the UK and EU countries. 

He also notes that the scheme has, over the years, "produced around one million babies". 

He adds that he disagrees with recent comments from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that English is of declining importance in Europe.

On the contrary, he says there is "huge demand" from EU students to come to the UK to study in English. 

Lawyer highlights issue of right to bring spouses

European Parliament hearing on citizens' rights

European Parliament

Brussels

Jan Doerfel
EBS

Jan Doerfel, an immigration barrister in the UK, says he agrees with Guy Verhofstadt that the rights in the withdrawal agreement should be overseen by the EU Court of Justice. 

He says this should occur because Britain "fails at present to apply EU law".

He says the process for claiming permanent residency in the UK is complicated and difficult to complete - and that the waiting time to appeal a decision currently stands at 33 weeks for EU citizens. 

He highlights that those EU citizens who gain British citizenship may, under UK law, lose rights they currently have to automatically bring in a spouse regardless of income. 

Campaigner calls for separate deal on citizens' status

European Parliament hearing on citizens' rights

European Parliament

Brussels

Anne-Laure Donskoy
EBS

Anne-Laure Donskoy, from the “the 3 million” campaign group, says EU citizens face a "tall order" when claiming rights in the UK - and the current system is "not fit for purpose".

She says she "fundamentally disagrees" with the idea that a final deal on the status of citizens will have to wait until the whole deal has been agreed. 

Such an approach, she says, would cause problems for people when it comes to tasks such as applying for jobs over the next two years. 

She calls for an early and legally binding separate agreement on citizens' rights to be negotiated.

Verhofstadt 'climbs down' on citizenship idea

Guardian Brussels correspondent tweets:

Draft directives outlined

European Parliament hearing on citizens' rights

European Parliament

Brussels

Mr Verhofstadt gives an outline of the negotiating directives that EU ministers are expected to endorse later this month. 

He says the final deal should address not just those in work, but also "inactive persons" in UK as well as the rights of those EU citizens who have worked there in the past. 

The cut-off date for determining who should retain rights should be the date of the UK's actual withdrawal from the EU - not the date when Article 50 was triggered. 

The earlier date, he says, "cannot be accepted". 

He also gives an idea of some of the rights that he hopes certain UK citizens will be able to retain after Brexit - such as the right to use consular services or vote in European Parliament elections. 

Progress on citizens' rights 'should be made public'

European Parliament hearing on citizens' rights

European Parliament

Brussels

Guy Verhofstadt
EBS

Guy Verhofstadt tells MEPs that all of the EU's three main institutions agree that resolving the issue on citizens' right should be the "first issue to be tackled" in Brexit talks. 

He proposes that the European Parliament should adopt a motion on the matter "at the right moment", in order to "put pressure" on the EU Commission in this area.  

In addition, he says that the outcome of the talks on citizens' rights should be made public even if the final deal cannot be formally finalised until the end of the Article 50 process. 

He repeats his wish for MEPs to also pass judgement on whether enough progress has been made on withdrawal issues, to allow talks on a future relationship to begin. 

Verhofstadt: pro-EU British citizens should also be considered

European Parliament hearing on citizens' rights

European Parliament

Brussels

Guy Verhofstadt
EBS

Guy Verhofstadt, who is the Parliament's chief Brexit spokesman, says the talks should not just address EU citizens and UK citizens in the EU. 

He adds that the talks should also deal with the issue of UK citizens who want to "keep a link" with the EU after Brexit. 

He says the main objective should be to ensure that those affected by Britain's departure from the EU can continue to exercise the rights they have now for the rest of their lives.

The deal on citizens' rights, he says, will be a "key determining factor" in whether the European Parliament agrees to ratify the final deal.  

What’s the position of MEPs?

Guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens was part of the assembly’s negotiation position, which was approved at a vote last month.

The document, which was supported by 516 votes to 133, said EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the rest of the EU should be treated with “reciprocity”.

It said that agreement on the rights of EU citizens should be included in a withdrawal agreement to be interpreted and enforced by the EU Court of Justice.

Earlier in the year MEPs held a full plenary debate on the issue, after an oral question expressed concern about reports that the UK is "restrictively" applying the rules for gaining residence status. 

MEPs voting during a Strasbourg plenary session
European Parliament

Fate of citizens 'not matter of party politics' - MEP

European Parliament hearing on citizens' rights

European Parliament

Brussels

Cecilia Wikstrom
EBS

Swedish Liberal Cecilia Wikstrom, who chairs the petitions committee, says there has been an increase in the number of petitions received from the UK in the last year. 

The Brexit vote, she says has "created uncertainty for millions of people".

Resolving this matter, she adds, is "not a matter of party politics" - but of "basic human decency". 

Who’s giving evidence?

European Parliament hearing on citizens' rights

After the chairs of the three European Parliament committees have made introductory statements, MEPs will hear from the assembly’s Brexit spokesman Guy Verhofstadt.

They will then hear from:

  • Anne-Laure Donskoy – from the “the 3 million” campaign group
  • Jan Doerfel – an immigration barrister in the UK
  • Charlie Jeffery – Professor at the University of Edinburgh
  • Julia Onslow-Cole – Head of Global Immigration at PwC
  • Jonathan Portes – Professor of Economics, King's College London

After this, they will hear from two British citizens who have petitioned on this issue. 

Good afternoon

Hello and welcome to coverage of this three-way committee hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels.

This afternoon MEPs are taking evidence from campaigners and experts on the rights of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit.

European Council President Donald Tusk has said that the issue, along with settling financial liabilities and the situation in Ireland, should be an early priority in Brexit talks.

Last week EU Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that issues such as the right to claim pensions and bring spouses to the UK will need to be settled, alongside residency rights.