Gualtieri to May: Freedom of movement rules must apply during transition period

Roberto Gualtieri and Teresa May, Brexit talks in UK

S&D Group spokesperson for Brexit, Roberto Gualtieri, today met with UK Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss the latest developments on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
 
Alongside Prime Minister May, Mr Gualtieri MEP met the Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington, and Secretary of State for exiting the EU David Davis.
 
Following the meetings, Roberto Gualtieri MEP said:
 
“We are at a crunch point in the Brexit negotiations. We reached a positive agreement with the Joint Report in December, we now need to see that translated in a consistent way into the draft withdrawal treaty. We also need to make progress on the transitional arrangements, so we can start discussions on future EU-UK relations as soon as possible.
 
“On these issues we had a frank and open exchange of views, which were conducted in a constructive spirit. Citizens’ rights remain the key priority for the S&D Group. I was pleased to receive clear commitments from both Prime Minister Theresa May and Home Secretary Amber Rudd that administrative procedures for being granted the right of residency would be simple, user-friendly and will not exclude any eligible citizens. They confirmed that this process will be, in all but truly exceptional cases, a formality. This is a priority for the European Parliament and we will carefully follow this issue.
 
“I also raised the question of future partners, who should be covered by the final agreement, and underlined the importance of having a strong independent national authority that could support citizens and act on their behalf, including in UK courts. Finally, I stressed that for the European Parliament it is necessary that the current freedom of movement rules apply during the transition period.
 
“On Ireland, we need to have a workable solution that prevents a hard border. This was agreed in December, with the UK committing to ensuring complete regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the Republic, unless both sides agree a new solution. We need to see this commitment translated into legal text.

“We are still waiting for the UK to outline a clear position on how it sees the future UK-EU relationship working. We support a partnership that is as close as possible, including in areas such as internal security and defence. However, any solution requires the appropriate balance of rights and obligations and must respect the integrity of the Single Market and the autonomy of the EU legal order. Only remaining in the Single Market and a custom union can provide completely frictionless trade.  

“Lastly, I stressed that a priority for the S&D Group is ensuring that we do not have a race to the bottom on workers’ rights, environmental protections or on tax after Brexit. The Prime Minister and Chancellor reassured me that they want to maintain high standards and a European style economy. This is positive, as I made clear that we won’t approve any final agreement that could undermine the EU’s social model or lower our standards.”