U.K. Open to Talking About Associate Citizenship After Brexit

  • Davis says he has discussed idea with EU’s Verhofstadt
  • Verhofstadt has said he wants to protect Britons’ EU rights
David Davis, U.K. exiting the European Union (EU) secretary, looks on during a news conference ahead of the start of Brexit negotiations in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday, June 19, 2017. Almost a year since Britons voted to leave the European Union, Brexit talks finally open on Monday amid confusion over just what the U.K. government wants from the divorce. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Brexit Secretary David Davis said he has spoken to the European Parliament’s negotiator Guy Verhofstadt about creating so-called associate citizenship that could allow visa-free working rights to British nationals.

Davis was asked in Parliament about what the government could do to offer British workers, particularly younger Britons, the opportunity to work in the European Union without a visa. He said he’d already discussed the idea with EU counterparts.

“We’ll listen to anything of this nature,” he told lawmakers on Thursday. “The aim of this exercise is to be good for Europe, good for Britain, and that means good for the citizens of Europe and Britain."

Verhofstadt said in April he wanted to allow Britons to retain their European citizenship, and the parliament in Strasbourg has put forward a proposal to allow them to opt in to an associate EU citizenship. 

It’s not clear when such proposals would be formally discussed: talks are currently deadlocked over the contentious issue of the divorce bill. The residency rights of EU citizens in the U.K., and U.K. citizens in Europe need to be sorted before talks can move on to the future relationship.

Negotiations are set to resume next week.

— With assistance by Tim Ross

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