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UK seeks to reassure EU citizens they can stay after Brexit

23 June 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday promised EU citizens living in Britain that they would be allowed to stay after Brexit, but rejected calls by Brussels for the European court to oversee their rights.

Under May's plan, Europeans who have been living in Britain for five years at the time of a yet to be specified cut-off date would be entitled to a new "settled status" - granting them permanent rights to healthcare, education, welfare and pensions equivalent to British nationals.

"That's been an important issue, we've wanted it to be one of the early issues that was considered in the negotiations, that is now the case, that work is starting".

The fact that the European Union has made Ireland one of its three priority issues in the talks is a tribute to the Government's strong diplomatic campaign but also to the spirit of solidarity that underpins the EU.

The cut-off date will fall between the day when Britain formally notified Brussels of its intention to quit on 29 April this year and the day when it finally pulls out of the European Union, which is expected to be 29 March 2019.

Other crunch Brexit issues are Britain's estimated 100 billion euro (88 billion pounds, US$112 billion) divorce bill, and Northern Ireland, which will be on Britain's only land border with the European Union after Brexit.

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Merkel said in Brussels on Thursday that the Brexit talks will be conducted quickly and "we will do everything to continue succeeding, as we have so far, in keeping the 27 member states together".

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"For me, shaping the future of the 27 (remaining) member states has priority over the question of the negotiations with Britain on its exit", Merkel said.

And European Council president Donald Tusk spoke of his "dream" that there could still be a U-turn on the Brexit decision before the expected date of withdrawal in March 2019.

German chancellor Angela Merkel later referred to May's offer as "a good beginning", but noted that many points remain open.

The LBC presenter was not happy with the latest intervention from the European council president - who today suggested the United Kingdom could stay in the EU.

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The EU wants their citizens' rights after Brexit enforceable in their European court in Luxembourg. I was part of a British Future commission whose report looks at all of this in great detail.

"What we also need is certainty, for our companies in Belgium, in Europe", he said.

Ahead of private talks with May Thursday, Tusk said he had been asked by British friends if he could see a way of Britain still staying in.

"Never before have I had such a strong belief that things are going in a better direction", he said.

Counter-terrorism has been a key issue at the summit which comes in the wake of an attack in Brussels on Tuesday.

After a string of small-scale terrorist attacks in European capitals this week, the EU leaders also agreed to join efforts seeking to curb online extremism and crack down on Europeans who go overseas to fight jihad.

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All 28 leaders including May meanwhile recommended another six-month rollover of tough economic sanctions imposed against Russian Federation in 2014 over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed 10,000 lives.