The Latest: Central Europe leaders meet with France’s Macron
BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on the European Union summit (all times local):
Poland’s prime minister says it is a good sign for the future that France and Central European countries want to seek consensus despite their differences on key issues.
Prime Minister Beata Szydlo offered her assessment at a European Union summit in Brussels on Friday. Earlier in the day, at her invitation, the so-called Visegrad Group of four central European countries held talks with French President Francois Macron.
In a recent interview, Macron accused some of them of betraying European values by refusing to support an EU refugee relocation program.
Szydlo described the talks as “good,” but says Macron and the Visegrad Group differ in many areas. She stressed that the dialogue would continue.
On Macron’s criticism, Szydlo said she asked him for better direct communication, free of “stereotypes.”
Macron says he and the central European leaders “defined their points of disagreement” and talked frankly, but showed no sign of softening his criticism.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledges not to immediately force out EU citizens are a “good start but not yet the breakthrough.”
Speaking Friday at an EU summit in Brussels, Merkel said that after talks with May the night before, “it became clear ... that there is a long road in front of us.”
May’s EU counterparts have given a lukewarm reception to her proposals to protect EU citizens living in Britain when it leaves the bloc. Some are notably concerned about a lack of details and how family members of those citizens will be affected.
A more detailed British plan is to be presented to the U.K. Parliament on Monday. It’s a key issue in Brexit negotiations.
Malta’s leader says Prime Minister Theresa May’s offer to guarantee the rights of European and British citizens affected by Brexit could contain some pitfalls but needs to be studied in detail.
Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the European Union’s rotating presidency until the end of the month, said Friday that May’s offer to EU leaders is “a good start.”
But he said “my concern is that we may be creating pitfalls if details are not really well ironed-out.”
Muscat expressed concerns that EU and British citizens would be treated differently under the proposals, which May’s government will flesh out in a report on Monday.
He suggested that it might be wise to create a special status for non-EU citizens who are related to European nationals living in Britain.
Muscat said “everyone would like a situation where there is a blanket fair treatment of all of our citizens.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May says that despite criticism from some EU leaders, her proposal on the rights of EU citizens in Britain after the nation leaves the bloc was “fair and serious.”
May had briefed EU leaders on citizens’ rights in general terms and said the early talks in the Brexit negotiations were “good and constructive.”
After May presented her proposal, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called it “a good start” but EU Council President Donald Tusk said it was “below our expectations.”
Countries are worried that details are lacking, for example on when the cutoff date will be for EU citizens to benefit from a promise they won’t be forced to leave Britain, and on how it will affect family members.
French President Emmanuel Macron says EU leaders have agreed to reinforce external borders and support Libyan border forces as part of efforts to slow illegal and deadly migration.
Speaking at an EU summit Friday Macron said migration is a long-term challenge and requires common responses.
The EU wants to boost support for conflict-ravaged Libya as the number of people fleeing Africa from there for better lives in Europe continues to rise.
They are stepping up backing for the Libyan coast guard to stop people setting out for international waters in unseaworthy boats
European Union chief Donald Tusk says that Britain’s offer to ensure the rights of EU citizens after the country leaves the bloc is below expectations and could make things worse for them.
The European Council President told reporters Friday that “citizens’ rights are the number one priority for the EU 27” — the member countries that will remain once Britain leaves the bloc in 2019.
He said that “we want to ensure the full rights for EU and U.K. citizens.”
Around 3 million EU citizens live in Britain, while some 1.5 million Britons live on the content. Securing guarantees for their future is a key part of the Brexit talks. British Prime Minister Theresa May said Thursday that no EU citizen currently living in Britain will be forced to leave.
The European Parliament’s top Brexit official says that the proposals on the rights of EU citizens in Britain once the nation leaves the EU are insufficient.
Guy Verhofstadt wrote that British prime minister “Theresa May’s “generous offer” does not fully guarantee the rights for EU citizens living in the UK.”
The coordinator for the Brexit negotiations in the legislature said that “unclarity about the cutoff date, family reunification and uncertainty about jurisdiction are not what we are looking for.”
May will present a more detailed proposal to her national parliament on Monday.
The opinion of the European parliament is important since the legislature will have to approve any Brexit deal.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals for future rights of EU citizens in Britain have left the 27 other EU leaders with more questions than answers.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski said Poland appreciates the proposals but said they’re “incomplete,” according to the PAP news agency.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Friday “it’s too early” to judge her proposals and said the EU needs “more information.”
Leaders of Poland, France, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia discussed Brexit and May’s proposals at a meeting Friday on the sidelines of the summit.
But they didn’t go into details, because French officials insist that the proposals should be discussed at the official Brexit negotiating table and not an EU summit.
French President Emmanuel Macron is meeting with central and eastern European leaders amid tensions over jobs and resistance to taking in refugees.
The meeting Friday on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels is hitting on two of the most thorny subjects within the EU.
Macron’s office says he sought a separate meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Poland’s Beata Szydlo, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico.
Some countries, including Hungary and Poland, have refused to take part in a legally binding EU scheme to share refugees after a wave of migrant arrivals strained resources.
Macron said ahead of the summit that countries should suffer consequences for not respecting EU deals, saying Europe is not a “supermarket” where members can choose which rules to respect.
Orban, who has erected a border fence to keep migrants out, said it wasn’t fair for Macron to “kick” central European partners.
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.
May told reporters Friday that “no one will have to leave. We won’t be seeing families split apart ”
She said her government is making a “very fair and very serious offer” to her EU counterparts to guarantee the futures of around 3 million European citizens in Britain.
May is due to publish a report on Monday detailing her plans, but she did explain some elements of it to EU leaders late Thursday.
The issue of the rights of EU citizens living in Britain and more than 1.5 million Britons on the continent is a top priority in Brexit talks.