May Promises to Treat EU Citizens Well 10/19 05:43
British Prime Minister Theresa May is bound for a European Union summit on
Thursday with a solemn pledge to treat EU residents well once Britain leaves
BRUSSELS (AP) -- Prime Minister Theresa May is heading to a European Union
summit Thursday with a solemn pledge to treat EU residents well once Britain
leaves the bloc -- the latest attempt to reinvigorate the lifeless divorce
At EU headquarters in Brussels, May will face 27 EU counterparts who could
block her goal of quickly wrapping up the first phase of Brexit talks. The
negotiations so far have been limited to the terms of Britain's departure.
May initially hoped that post-divorce issues such as future trade relations
could be on the table starting next week.
The talks launched earlier this year have stalled over several issues,
including the future status of the 3 million EU citizens living in Britain and
the 1 million Britons living elsewhere in the bloc. Some of those concerned
about what Brexit will mean for them have accused politicians of using them as
pawns in the deal-making.
May said in an open letter to EU nationals published Wednesday that "nothing
could have been further from the truth."
Britain and the EU are in "touching distance" on a deal on citizens' rights
deal, the British leader said.
"EU citizens who have made their lives in the U.K. have made a huge
contribution to our country," May wrote. "We want them and their families to
stay. I couldn't be clearer."
May said a "streamlined digital process" overseen by European nationals
would be created for EU citizens to register as U.K. residents.
EU leaders such as European Council President Donald Tusk have been waiting
for the British government to provide such details.
Tusk said on the eve of the summit that for the two sides to meet the goal
of completing the first phase of talks by year's end, May must translate her
government's intentions into negotiating positions.
Tusk said he was "absolutely sure it is still possible to achieve this final
first phase in December but for this we need more concrete proposals from the
British side, to be honest."
The EU to discuss future relations with Britain until there is "sufficient
progress" on three issues: citizens' rights, a transparent Irish border and
Britain's exit tab.
The outstanding costs Britain needs to pay for commitments it made as an EU
member remains an obstacle. Britain has floated a bill of 20 billion euros
($23.6 billion.) The starting price for the rest of EU is 50 billion euros ($60
Asked whether 20 billion euros was "peanuts" compared to what Britain owes,
Tusk said, "I have never seen 20 billion peanuts in my life."
May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker committed to
"accelerate" the talks this week. Tusk said he would tell leaders of the other
EU countries that even December is a tight deadline for getting the three
preliminary issues resolved.
"I don't expect any kind of breakthrough" at the summit, Tusk said.
"We have to work really hard between October and December to finalize this
so-called first phase," he said.
While the June 2016 referendum that called for Britain to pull out of the EU
has created political chaos in London, the other EU nations have recovered from
the initial shock and stood side by side throughout the negotiations.
May has personally lobbied German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French
President Emmanuel Macron to side with Britain on jump-starting the talks to
encompass a future relationship.
The other 27 leaders instead are expected to huddle over strategy for
staying united during talks on post-Brexit trade that could start in late
Officials say the negotiations should conclude by November 2018 at the
latest to finish off the complicated approval process by March 29, 2019, when
Britain is supposed to leave.