Protecting the rights of the Romanian nationals in the United Kingdom is to Romania the key to Brexit negotiations, Romania’s Minister-delegate for European Affairs Ana Birchall said Monday while attending a meeting of the EU’s General Affairs Council (GAC) in an EU27 format.
Romania’s Foreign Ministry (MAE) quotes Birchall as underscoring the rights of all European citizens must be protected in the Brexit context.
“Romania is hailing the political agreement inside the EU27 over the negotiating directives that will prioritise securing the rights protection of the European citizens living, working or studying in the UK, as well as of the members of their families; the UK meeting its financial commitments as an EU member state and protecting the Good Friday peace agreement between Ireland and the UK, as the European Union’s borders are being redefined,” Birchall is quoted as having said at the end of the GAC meeting.
The main item on the meeting’s agenda was the passage of a draft decision of the European Council authorising the opening of negotiations over an agreement with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland establishing conditions for withdrawal from the European Union.
The European affairs ministers exchanged opinions on the negotiating directives and the priorities to be followed as part of the agreement with the UK on UK’s leaving the EU.
Birchall pointed out that when it comes to Brexit, “Romanian nationals come first as far as the interests of Romania in the process of the UK leaving the EU are concerned.”
“I have insisted on the approach to be explicitly stated in the EU’s negotiating strategy in order to protect the rights of all the European citizens to live, work or study in the UK under the conditions currently secured under the European Union law,” said Birchall.
She went on to say that Romania will support continual cooperation with the UK in order to prevent and fights against any form of negative discrimination or abuse against Romanian workers in the UK.
“To Romania, protecting rights of Romanian nationals in UK is key to Brexit negotiations,” added Birchall.
“Romania is paying special attention to issues related to social rights and pension rights in an attempt to make sure that the European citizens, Romanians included, qualifying for such rights at the time the UK leaves the EU, including those turning the pensionable age, will continue to enjoy the benefits even after the UK has left the EU,” said Birchall.
She also mentioned the need for the UK to meet its financial commitments to the EU, adding that all aspects regarding the budget have to be negotiated in an integrated manner as part of a single financial agreement, in line with Article 10 in the guidelines passed by the European Council.
In her speech to the meeting, Birchall also advocated the need for a unitary, inclusive, coherent and solidary voice of the EU for the Brexit negotiations.
“We are supporting the European Commission’s approach whereby a close relationship will be maintained in the future with the UK, especially when it comes to the judiciary, home affairs, defence and security dimensions,” Birchall added in her speech.
She also met her French counterpart Marielle de Sarnez, voicing trust in the consolidation of bilateral cooperation over items on the European agenda, especially those concerning good preparations for Romania holding the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2019.