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United Kingdom makes pension and health pledges for British expats post Brexit

EU's chief negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier took a first go at the UK's proposal on citizens rights, shortly after United Kingdom prime minister Theresa May presented the British proposal to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon.

Those who were here for less than five years will be able to carry on living in the United Kingdom and then apply for settled status after they pass the time limit.

"Any EU citizen in the United Kingdom with five years continuous residence at a specified cutoff date will be treated as if they were a United Kingdom citizen", with the same rights to healthcare, education and other benefits including pensions, the prime minister said.

Monday's presentation offered more details of a proposal May brought to an EU summit last week, an offer which European Council President Donald Tusk said fell short of expectations and could water down citizens' rights.

The opposition leader accused May of using citizens as "bargaining chips".

Any European citizen remaining in the United Kingdom after the date Britain leaves the EU will be forced to apply for a new "residence document" in order to achieve "settled status" allowing them to stay in the UK.

For those who do not meet the five-year mark by the time the cut-off time is implemented, there is the opportunity to remain in the country until they reach the five-year point, at which point they can apply for settled status.

The Government paper says that at the earliest it will be March 29 2017 - the date Theresa May triggered Article 50, marking the start of the formal Brexit process - and at the latest the date it actually leaves.

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There will be a grace period of up to two years between the end of free movement of all European Union citizens into the United Kingdom and the issuance of resident documents during which eligible European Union citizens can continue to live and work legally in the country.

Relatives of European Union migrants will also be given permanent residence in the United Kingdom as long as they join them before the day Britain formally leaves the EU.

Those who enter the United Kingdom after the cutoff date will be allowed to remain in the United Kingdom during this period, and may be allowed to settle permanently, the prime minister said. The European Court of Justice will not have jurisdiction in the UK.

The Government also again rejected calls from the EU that the rights of citizens be upheld by the European Court of Justice, stating in its offer document today that the ECJ "will not have jurisdiction in the UK", but would instead be guaranteed by United Kingdom law.

The European Parliament's lead Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt welcomed the commitment to simplify the arrangements for those who wished to remain in the EU but said concerns remained.

A Government paper outlines the government's stance on "safeguarding the position of European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom and UK nationals living in the EU".

However, several key areas such as healthcare, professional qualifications and the rights of the self- employed fall in the negotiating category of "seek to ensure continuity" rather than a United Kingdom unilateral guarantee.

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