Guy Verhofstadt attacks EU-27 over treatment of UK citizens in Brexit negotiations

James Crisp
Guy Verhofstadt outside 10 Downing Street on a visit to London earlier this year.  - REUTERS

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit chief, has attacked EU-27 countries for neglecting residency procedures for the more than a million British citizens living in the bloc.

Mr Verhofstadt criticised the majority of the remaining 27 member states, which he accused of not making proper arrangements from the 1.24 million expat Britons in the EU.

“I am far from happy concerning the treatment of UK citizens in the EU27,” the former prime minister of Belgian said in a speech in Vienna.

“Most member states have not yet started the process and many have not yet determined the procedures. We will remain very vigilant on this issue,” he said at the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency in the Austrian capital.  

In contrast, Mr Verhofstadt said, Britain had agreed to safeguard the rights of of the three million EU citizens living in the UK and work was continuing on a streamlined residency procedure for them.

The Telegraph understands that British officials have repeatedly asked the European Commission for information on EU-27 preparations for migrant Britons but with no luck so far.

EU sources said the countries had committed to minimising any administrative burden and a smooth implementation of the citizen’s right chapter of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

FAQ | Brexit and EU nationals living in Britain

The leader of the ALDE liberal group in the European Parliament said he would travel to London on Tuesday and meet Sajid Javid, the home secretary, to discuss progress.

He said: “We have successfully pushed - with the help of Michel Barnier, for the recognition by the UK authorities of nearly all the rights currently enjoyed by EU27 nationals in the UK. This is a significant achievement.”

Mr Verhofstadt added that MEPs would push for British expats living in the EU to be granted onward freedom of movement rights in the whole EU rather than just residency in the country they live in.

The Home Office was forced to admit its residency application app would not work on iPhones at an excruciating April meeting in the European Parliament. 

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