Jane Golding, Fiona Godfrey and Christopher Chantrey joined with four representatives of the3million to meet Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt in Brussels before presenting to the AFCO committee.
Meeting with Michel Barnier – Summary
The team stressed that ‘sufficient progress’ should only be agreed in December IF all the fundamental issues e.g. free movement, right of return and status of EU citizens, etc are agreed. It is not yet clear if sufficient progress will be reached but it may be.
Michel Barnier confirmed the red lines mentioned in his press statement on 10 November. The first two were discussed and progress made: admin procedures as regards status EU citizens, and direct effect. Other red lines are family reunification, export of benefits and governance i.e. role of CJEU.
The BiE/t3m team discussed free movement / right of return plus professional qualifications, economic rights like running a business and cross-border working. All these issues are still on the UK/EU negotiation table to be discussed. Ring-fencing was also discussed.
If sufficient progress is agreed on citizens’ rights, the parties would then have to get down to drafting the detail to implement it. Our input into this process was discussed.
Finally, M. Barnier offered to meet the two organisations again early in the New Year, after the European Council meeting in December.
Meeting with Guy Verhofstadt – Summary
Guy Verhofstadt was clear that the European Parliament stands strongly by the identified red lines and that there will be no ‘sufficient progress’ agreement unless there is real progress on citizens’ rights. He agreed that EU citizens in the UK should not have to apply for a status (Settled Status) but instead have their current status confirmed.
Family reunification is a red line, including ‘future family’ reunification. Our team raised the point of how this affects returning UK citizens to the UK as well. Free movement and lifelong right of return were discussed, as were professional qualifications and economic rights. Finally ring-fencing was discussed.
To watch the discussion at the AFCO meeting see here.
Connexion website (based in France) published an interview with Jane Golding following the meetings which can be read here.