Anna van Densky OPINION The first set of Brexit recommendations presented by Chief negotiator EU27 Michel Barnier strikes even unexperienced in politics eye by its unfairness – there can not be a reciprocity between the population of the EU27 bloc and the UK as a major principle of talks, because of the differences in capacities both human and natural resources as huge.
Even at first glance the idea of reciprocity, put forward by Barnier is at odds with the concept of fairness. The offer of identical rights for EU27 citizens in UK, and vice versa looks just only in words.
According to the United Nations Population Division, the number of British people living in the EU is 1.2 million with the largest communities in Spain – 309,000, Ireland – 255,000, France – 185,000 and Germany – 103,000. Many of the British emigrants to Europe, especially Ireland, Italy, Germany, Cyprus, France and Spain, are self-sufficient retirees so the numbers in employment are fewer than the total number of residents.
Only in 2013/14 the UK spent £1.4 billion on state pension payments to recipients living elsewhere in the European Union, making the UK senior citizens an asset to local economies in Mediterranean countries.
The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford underlines the fact of the UK being one of three countries which opened its borders straight away to workers from the new member states when the EU expanded to the East in 2004.
Subsequently over half of nowadays 3,2 million immigrants – 1.6 million—of the EU nationals living in UK arrived between 2006 and 2014.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Force Survey estimates for 2015, there were 3.3 million EU citizens in the UK – 1.6 million from the EU14, (ante 2004 enlargement), 1.3 million from the EU8 (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania,Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia), 300,000 from Romania and Bulgaria and the remainder from the other EU countries of Malta, Cyprus and Croatia.
The simple arithmetics reveals that the idea of ‘reciprocity’ put forward by the EU27 does not correlate with the idea of justice, as the UK would be obliged to give equal rights and access to its social system to more than three million EU27 citizens in exchange for their own roughly one million living abroad looks already as a disproportionate claim.
Especially with a close-up to the social profile of the residents, while the Britons in the EU are mainly highly skilled labor or retired, while the EU27 in majority represent low-skilled labor, and their dependents.
Clearly if this EU27 claim of reciprocity persists the leaving without a deal would be the best option. The British expats can continue their stay in the legal frame preceding the UK entering the EU under a principle articulated by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969, stipulating that the withdrawal from a treaty releases the parties from any future obligations to each other but does not affect any rights or obligations acquired under it before withdrawal. However in this case Briton would not be obliged to sign an asymmetrical deal, meaning they have to intake 2 million immigrants above the symmetrical 1,2 million in exchange for UK citizens wishing to stay in the EU.