The president of the European Parliament has said the Brexit deal between Britain and the EU will be vetoed if citizens’ rights are not protected.
Antonio Tajani was in London to meet with Theresa May to discuss the parliament’s position on the Brexit negotiations and said the issue of rights was a “red line”.
He said it was essential that European and British citizens had the “same rights tomorrow as they have today” and without such an agreement, parliament would veto the deal.
“We will vote against only if an agreement on citizen’s rights is not inside the deal. For us it is impossible to vote in favour without an agreement on citizens’ rights. This is a prerogative,” he told The Independent.
“The European parliament in our document has underlined the need to have tomorrow the same rights of today for the European citizens living here and the British citizens living in the European Union.”
Mr Tajani also added it was important to clarify the future of citizens across the continent that currently face uncertainty in light of the negotiations.
“The British citizens and the European citizens want to know the future. For this I think we need work immediately and a lot for citizens,” Mr Tajani said.
“The agreement is not just an agreement for institutions, first of all it is for citizens. For this, we need to be very clear about the future for all citizens.”
The European parliament has the right to veto any deal between the UK and the EU when talks come to a close in 2019 but the President did say he felt positive after his meeting with Ms May.
“I want to be optimistic because the meeting with Theresa May today was a good meeting. On the principle, we have the same opinion on citizen’s rights,” he said.
Mr Tajani was also keen to express the desire to strike a deal for both countries that ensures a functioning working relationship following Brexit.
“Negotiations will be difficult, there will be problems. But I think we need to be pragmatic to achieve the goal,” he said.
“We have common interests to have a good separation and then to pave the way for some cooperation between the European and United Kingdom the day after Brexit.”
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Brussels is set to demand the UK pays for moving EU agencies out of the UK after Brexit.
The European Commission is expected to insist the UK makes the payment in euros to nullify the risk of currency fluctuations for the union while ensuring Britain bears the risk, a leaked draft negotiating document obtained by Politico claimed.
The paper states the UK must “honour its share of the financing of all the obligations undertaken while it was a member of the Union”, including “liabilities, contingent liabilities, legal and budgetary commitments”.
It also says: “In addition, the United Kingdom should fully cover the specific costs related to the withdrawal process such as the relocation of the agencies or other Union bodies.”
The guidelines in the document set out protections for EU budgets, citizens and European businesses that trade in the UK.
There is also an insistence that the European Court of Justice maintains legal jurisdiction over disputes which result from the withdrawal agreement.
The terms of the “divorce bill” are likely to dictate the talks Ms May is set to have with European Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and president Jean-Claude Juncker on 26 April.
Mr Juncker has previously suggested the UK’s divorce bill may come to around £50bn.