Tusk says May's citizens' rights deal is 'below expectations'

He said the deal "risks worsening the situation of citizens"

Tusk says May's citizens' rights deal is 'below expectations'

European Council President Donald Tusk listens to questions from journalist | Image: PA images

European Council President, Donald Tusk has said Theresa May's proposals for the post-Brexit status of EU citizens living in Britain are "below expectations".

While Theresa May described her offer as "fair and serious", Donald Tusk said it "risks worsening the situation of citizens".

Earlier today, The British Prime Minister said her plan would ensure that no one living lawfully in the UK will have to leave and that EU nationals will not face the prospect of their families being split up.

She said the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK should take "reassurance and confidence" from what she had laid out at a European Council summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Elements of the proposals are likely to be contested by Brussels, including the cut-off date for entitlement to stay in the UK and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

First step

Mrs May acknowledged this as she arrived for the second day of the summit, saying "Of course, there will be details of this arrangement which will be part of the negotiation process.

She added: "I want to reassure all those EU citizens who are in the UK, who have made their lives and homes in the UK, that no one will have to leave, we won't be seeing families split apart.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called the deal a "first step, but not sufficient", while the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said: "May's "generous offer" does not fully guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile said it was a "good start", but that there were many issues still to be resolved.

Grace period

Under the plan, EU nationals who have been in the UK for more than five years would be able to claim a new "settled status", entitling them to the same rights as full British citizens to healthcare, education, welfare and pensions.

Those who have been in the UK for a shorter time would be able to stay until they hit the five-year threshold for settled status, while others who arrive after a cut-off date will be given a "grace period", expected to be two years, to regularise their immigration status.

The introduction of a grace period raises the prospect that large numbers of people who arrive during the exit negotiations may be allowed to stay.

The cut-off date for entitlement to apply is yet to be set, but it will come somewhere between the day Britain activated Article 50 (29 March 2017) and the day Brexit takes effect (29 March 2019).