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UK must obey EU free movement laws until it leaves the EU, say MEPs

01/03/2017

Until the UK leaves the EU, it must obey EU laws on free movement, said a majority of MEPs in a plenary debate with the EU Commission on Wednesday. The EU Commission must ensure that the free movement rights of EU citizens living in the UK are respected, they added. Many speakers also underlined that EU citizens should not be used as ”bargaining chips” in the Brexit negotiations.

MEPs stressed the uncertainty in which the 3.1 million EU nationals living in the UK were left after the June 2016 referendum on EU membership. They insisted that  these citizens' right to free movement should be guaranteed as long as the UK remains a member of the EU and that their acquired rights must be respected even after it leaves. They also highlighted the plight of UK citizens living in other EU member states.

”Free movement is one of the EU's basic rights”, said Commissioner Vera Jourova, making it clear that as long as the UK is a member state, all EU rights and obligations continue to apply. She agreed that EU citizens deserve certainty and fairness, but reminded MEPs that there will be ”no negotiation (with the UK authorities) before notification” of their intention to leave the EU.

You can catch up with the debate via the links below.

Video recording of debate (click on 01.03.2017)EbS (01.03.2017)Audiovisual material for media