United Kingdom

Britons living in the EU could keep freedom of movement rights

Britons living in EU countries could be granted freedom of movement rights after the 11-month Brexit transition period ends.

British nationals living in countries - including France, Spain and Germany - could be allowed to move to another EU country if they choose to under plans being considered by the European commission.

They may be subject to certain conditions, including proving that they have lived in the EU for five years, but would be granted the similar movement freedoms to other citizens in the bloc, reports suggest.

Britons living in EU countries could be granted freedom of movement rights after the 11-month Brexit transition period ends under plans being concidered by the European Commission. Pictured: European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen

The EUUK joint specialised committee on citizens rights discussed the proposals, Politico reports. 

Co-chairman of the British in Europe campaign Fiona Godfrey said: 'We received good news on combining our Withdrawal Agreement status with other EU immigration statuses, which should provide some UK citizens in the EU with some further mobility rights.

'We now need clarity on how those rights will be evidenced.'

At least one million Britons live in the EU and, under the withdrawal agreement terms, they are only able to live in the country they currently reside in - rather than any EU nation they choose.  

A Foreign Office spokesman told The Daily Telegraph: 'Citizens' rights has been an absolute priority and the Withdrawal Agreement protects the rights of UK nationals living in the EU by the end of the transition period on December 31 2020, ensuring that they can continue to live their lives in the EU broadly as they did before.' 

It comes just days after Germany turned up the heat on Boris Johnson over Brexit trade talks demanding he is more 'realistic and pragmatic'.

Berlin's Europe minister Michael Roth said he was 'disappointed' with the UK's tough stance amid rising fears that the negotiations could fail.

von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and European Parliament president David-Maria Sassoli greet each-other 

With the clock running down to the end of the transition period in December, the two sides still appear to be deadlocked over calls for Britain to fall into line with EU rules and access to fishing waters.

The government insists it is ready to walk away this Autumn if there is no hope of a breakthrough. Another round of discussions between the EU's Michel Barnier and British counterpart David Frost is due to take place in Brussels this month.

But the Bank of England has raised questions about how much the outcome matters amid the much bigger impact of coronavirus.

Governor Andrew Bailey said the pandemic 'dwarfed' the issue of trade terms, and might already have 'taken over' much of the damage from a failure to get a deal. 

Berlin's Europe minister Michael Roth (right) said he was 'disappointed' with the tough stance taken by Boris Johnson (left) amid rising fears that the negotiations could fail

In an interview with Sky News after the Bank predicted the economy will shrink by 9.5 per cent this year, Mr Bailey said: 'Both Covid and Brexit could potentially negatively affect trade... Covid is the bigger shock now... 

'Moreover of course Covid has already had an effect on trade. 

'You then get to the extremely complicated question - which I don't think we're in a position to give very much frankly useful guidance on at the moment - which is to say if you think about the less good outcomes on Brexit... how much of that effect on trade has already been taken over by what's happened with Covid?'

Asked whether that meant the risk from Covid dwarfed that from a failure to strike Brexit trade terms, Mr Bailey said: 'I think at the moment it does dwarf it.' 

Ministers have told drugs companies to restart stockpiling medicines amid fears that trade terms will not be settled in time.   

Department of Health officials sent a letter to medical suppliers urging them to 'replenish' their drug stock. 

They have even warned companies to be prepared to reroute shipping to avoid the Channel. 

The government has also revealed plans to fine lorry drivers destined for the Channel ports £300 if they drive into Kent after December 31 without necessary export paperwork.

Ministers fear that, in the absence of a trade deal, the EU will impose strict import checks on all goods entering the bloc, potentially causing gridlock. 

Governor Andrew Bailey said the pandemic 'dwarfed' the issue of trade terms, and might already have 'taken over' much of the damage from a failure to get a deal

Another round of discussions between the EU's Michel Barnier and British counterpart David Frost (pictured left and right respectively in London last month) is due to take place in Brussels 

In an interview with the AFP news agency, Mr Roth said he was 'disappointed that London is shifting further and further away from the political declaration agreed between us as a reliable basis for negotiations'.

'I would like those responsible in London to be more realistic and pragmatic. The Brits are known for the latter,' he said.  

Brussels has been engaging in sabre-rattling as the discussions near the critical moment.

French minister for Europe Clement Beaune recently swiped that no deal is better than a bad deal, insisting Paris will not be 'intimidated'.  

He said France would be 'intransigent' on fishing, and will not be 'intimidated' by Britain in the negotiation 'game'.  

'Let's not kid ourselves, if there is no deal, it will be a difficult issue,' he added. 'We'll have to organise a response for sectors like fisheries. Support our fishermen financially. We're not there yet.' 

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