Another meeting of EU leaders in Brussels, but far from business as usual. Brexit still looms large.
British Prime Minister Theresa May was back in the Belgian capital, but without her parliamentary majority.
Time for an olive branch to the other 27 EU countries: the thorny issue of expats rights.
May said: “What I am going to be setting out is clearly how the United Kingdom proposes to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and see the rights of UK citizens in Europe protected.”
May’s offer will give EU citizens living in the UK for five years or more the same rights as British citizens.
No cut off date has been specified for newer residents.
The catch? May wants EU leaders to guarantee the same deal for British expats living abroad.
Yet some imagine Brexit may never happen.
European Council President Donald Tusk said: “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.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, still locked in tricky coalition talks, urged the UK to decide what it wants.
He said: “It is crucially important we know what Great Britain wants from Brexit,”
“I hope obviously we’ll come to some form of continued [UK] membership or relationship with the internal market; with the customs union. I think that is in the interests of jobs in the United Kingdom.”