Lead MEPs on the Brexit talks stress that more progress is needed on citizens’ rights and even more on the situation on the island of Ireland.

Members of the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group are calling for more progress to be made on citizen’s rights and the situation of Ireland. They issued a joint letter to the European Union negotiator, Michel Barnier.

The letter, which was signed by Guy Verhofstadt, on behalf of the Brexit steering group, was sent after meetings with the chairs and coordinators of the European Parliament’s Committees on Employment and Social Affairs, Legal Affairs and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, to assess the current state of negotiations concerning citizens’ rights.

“The European Parliament has made it very clear from the beginning that the protection of the rights of citizens must be absolute and beyond any doubt,” reads the letter. “We clearly recognise that progress has been made since the start of the negotiations, from a system based exclusively on UK immigration law to a system that reflects the preservation of EU rights.

“Despite this, considerable problems remain, which pose a fundamental question as to whether sufficient progress has been achieved. These issues have already been underlined by the Brexit Steering Group in its Statement of 8 November on citizens’ rights.  While all of them remain important, we wish to call your attention to the following issues.”

The letter also calls for “bold steps” to be taken to prevent any differentiated treatment between core family members.

“We should avoid creating a situation in which children of EU citizens born from different relationships would find themselves having a different legal status from that of children born before Brexit, therefore resulting in a possible split of families.”

Concerning Ireland, the MEPs said the UK must make a clear commitment, to be enshrined in a form which would guarantee its full implementation in the withdrawal agreement, that it would protect the operation of the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, ensure, by means of continued regulatory alignment between the North and the South, there is no hardening of the border on the island of Ireland and that there is no diminishing of the rights of people in Northern Ireland.