Britain promised Tuesday that European Union citizens will have the right to appeal if they are denied permission to live in the country after it leaves the EU, part of an improved offer before a new round of Brexit talks this week. The future status of 3 million EU citizens in Britain and 1 million Britons in other parts of the 28-nation bloc has been one of the main hurdles in the negotiations that started in June.
Britain has repeatedly said that EU nationals already in the U.K. would be able to stay, but EU officials have said the government’s proposals nonetheless would erode the existing rights of European citizens.
The British government promised Tuesday that no one would be denied residency over “minor technicalities” and said citizens of EU member countries would be able to appeal to British courts if they were refused permission to live in the U.K.
U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis said that “safeguarding the rights of EU citizens is our top priority in negotiations.”
“We will support everyone wishing to stay to gain settled status through a new straightforward, streamlined system,” Davis said.
However, the British position still does not give the European Court of Justice jurisdiction over citizens’ post-Brexit rights, as the EU wants.
Negotiators for the EU and Britain are scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday in Brussels. The current timetable calls for Britain to leave the EU in March 2019, and the government wants to settle the terms of the split so the two sides can begin discussing future relations.
Nicolas Hatton of The 3 Million, a group lobbying for EU citizens who could be affected by Brexit, welcomed the right to appeal to British courts, but said EU citizens in the U.K. were still being used as “bargaining chips.”