- By Emily TamkinEmily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. She writes for FP’s The Cable, a real-time take on the news in Washington and the wider world. She has been at FP since the fall of 2016, before which she was an associate editor at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. She has a B.A. in Russian literature from Columbia University, an M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, and studied Soviet dissidence in archival centers in Moscow, Tbilisi, and, on a Fulbright, in Bremen — all of which means that at FP, she writes when she can on Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.
The United Kingdom made what British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson described on Twitter as a “fair and serious offer” to allow European Union nationals to stay in the United Kingdom after Brexit. EU leaders were, to put it mildly, unimpressed.
“That was a good beginning but – and I’m trying to word this very carefully – it was not a breakthrough,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel took a somewhat tougher line. “The situation must be really tense if such an obvious thing is now considered as news. Of course people should at least have the right to stay, that is a minimum and personally I cannot imagine things differently,” he said speaking in Paris on Friday.
Just what was “fair and serious” offer? May’s plan would allow EU nationals currently in the United Kingdom to remain for at least five years after the date of the country’s scheduled exit — March 30, 2019 — and ensure that they have the same rights to education, pensions, and welfare. But the exact cut-off date for EU residency in post-Brexit Britain is still unclear; more specific plans are expected Monday.
Those who arrive after the grace period of up to two years will be subject to whatever regime replaces freedom of movement for EU nationals.
Donald Tusk, European Council president, said his “first impression is that the U.K.’s offer is below our expectations and that it risks worsening the situation of citizens.”
Britain, in other words, is not the only party that can play hardball when it comes to Brexit talks.
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