What does the UK-EU deal say and is it good for Britain?
Hugh Bennett, Deputy Editor at BrexitCentral
9 December, 2017
After a dramatic week of of last-minute negotiations between Brussels, London, Belfast and Dublin, the UK and the EU have finally reached agreement on ‘phase one’ of the Brexit talks. Theresa May and David Davis flew to Brussels in the early hours of Friday morning where Jean-Claude Juncker decreed that “sufficient progress” had been made on the first phase of talks, all before most people in the UK had even got up. The European Commission has now formally recommended that the European Council of member state leaders should give the authorisation for talk to progress at the summit next week, with Donald Tusk putting forward a new set of draft negotiating guidelines for member states to agree to ahead of the summit which begins on Thursday. Here, BrexitCentral takes you through the key points of the 15-page agreement issued jointly by the UK and the EU, along with additional insight from the two other EU documents which have appeared today, and whether Leave supporters can be happy with what they’ve seen.
Citizens’ Rights: a win for the UK but timing unresolved
The most important thing to note on citizens’ rights is that it has been agreed. This has always been an issue of fundamental human concern and now it is agreed it should finally put an end to the stream of irresponsible scare stories which have created wholly unwarranted uncertainty for the three million EU citizens living in the UK and over one million UK citizens living in the EU. In terms of the specific substance of the agreement, while there has been a fair amount of compromise from both sides, the resulting agreement is probably closer to the UK’s original proposals than the EU’s (though the EU subsequently toughened its stance on various issues including onward movement rights and healthcare). The UK has largely won its battle over security, with the agreement allowing both sides to conduct systematic criminality and security checks on EU citizens applying for settled status, against the EU’s original demands. EU laws will continue to apply with regards to the treatment of criminals for any crimes committed prior to the date of the UK’s withdrawal, but the EU has accepted that any crimes or security issues arising afterwards will be subject to national law, which will make it easier for the UK to deport serious EU criminals after Brexit. The UK scored a victory on healthcare, with the EU agreeing that UK citizens living in the EU will not lose access to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme and other existing schemes for healthcare reimbursement. In return, the UK has largely accepted the EU’s demands on the export of benefits, (though it should be noted that both of these arrangements are a significant net financial loss for the UK at present). The UK has also secured significant compromises over family reunion rights – one of the most contentious issues in the citizens’ rights negotiation. The EU’s original demands were that any EU nationals living in the UK should be able to bring any future spouses or children into the UK to enjoy the same rights with no restrictions, a more favourable arrangement than for UK nationals themselves which critics had said would grant “super-rights” to a privileged caste of EU citizens above and beyond everyone else in the UK. The EU has now agreed that this will only apply to people who are already family members of a settled EU citizen on the UK’s date of withdrawal, and will only apply to children born after the date of withdrawal if both of their parents are either settled EU citizens or UK nationals, or if a single parent also satisfies those criteria. In other cases, standard UK law (or the relevant domestic EU27 law) will apply.