Premier May unveils post Brexit plans for EU citizens in UK
British Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking to reassure European Union nationals living in her country that their futures will be secure once Britain leaves the EU in 2019.
Prime Minister Theresa May laid out her government's plans Thursday to grant special "settled EU status" to EU citizens living in the U.K. for five years.
The new status unveiled during a European Council summit in Brussels would allow approximately 3.2 million EU citizens to stay in the U.K. and provide access to health services, education and other benefits after Brexit.
May has said the U.K. seek reciprocal rights by the EU for 1 million Brits living in member states.
The U.K. was willing to agree to a "cutoff point" between March 29, 2017 and March 2019, May said during a dinner at the summit.
The first date is when the U.K. triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty-a first step to officially begin the exit of any member state from the EU. The latter is the date on which the U.K. would leave the union.
In opening remarks of the summit, European Council President Donald Tusk suggested there may still be a way for the U.K. to remain in the EU.
"Some of my British friends have even asked me whether Brexit could be reversed and whether I could imagine an outcome where the UK stays part of the EU," he said.
"I told them that, in fact, the European Union was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve. So, who knows. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one," he added, quoting lyrics of the famous John Lennon song, Imagine.
In other business, the European Council decided to finalize works on a new border information sharing system this year in a bid to protect residents against terrorism, according to a statement by the bloc at the end of the first day of the high-level summit.
Strongly condemning recent terrorist attacks, the council said it "stands united and firm in the fight against terrorism, hatred and violent extremism".
European leaders also agreed "to cooperate closely with the online industry" as it urged "social media companies to do whatever is necessary to prevent the spread of terrorist material on the internet," by developing new tools to remove terror promoting material from cyberspace, the statement added.
A deal on the first day of the two-day meeting was reached on defense and member states also agreed on criteria and commitments, as well as concrete capability projects.