The Prime Minister will meet with the new European Commission president for the first time in Downing Street in what is set to be a tense affair, after a leaked EU letter highlighted major concerns over the rights of EU citizens after Brexit. The letter by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay raised “issues of concern” over the protection of EU citizens and called for an independent watchdog to oversee the transition, The Telegraph reports. The Government has confirmed freedom of movement will end after Brexit and Britain’s three million EU citizens can apply for “settled status”.
The EU Settlement Scheme is open for EU citizens and their relatives, plus those from the European Economic Area (EEA) countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as well as Switzerland.
Mr Johnson is also expected to press home his desire to reach a free trade agreement with the EU by the end of December 2020, when the transition period is set to end.
The Prime Minister has insisted he will not push back the deadline, but critics claim that the timescale is too tight to reach a new deal.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson will underline that the forthcoming negotiations will be based on an ambitious free trade agreement, and not on alignment.
However Brussels has insisted that trade talks would not be on the agenda at the meeting.
A commission spokesman said: “This meeting is taking place at a very specific moment in the phase in which the withdrawal agreement is being ratified in the UK, it’s not taking place at a point of time when the trade negotiations have started.
“The meeting is to discuss holistically the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and to look forward to look forward to the year ahead in all of its dimensions.”
The Brexit Party leader slammed the new EU chief after Ms von der Leyen indicated a free trade deal would only be available if the freedom of movement of EU citizens continued after Brexit.