Theresa May seeks to reassure EU citizens in UK ahead of EU summit

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-19 17:27:58|Editor: Zhou Xin
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LONDON, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday sought to reassure the 3 million EU nationals living in Britain that they would be treated fairly and at par with Britons before her trip to a key summit of European leaders in Brussels.

In an open letter on her Facebook account, May said the application process for "settled status" -- also called "indefinite leave to remain" in the UK, which can obtained after five years of living there -- would be streamlined, keeping the cost as low as possible.

She vowed the criteria "will be simple, transparent and strictly in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement" guiding Britain's exit from the EU.

May said EU citizens' representatives will sit on a "user group" which will iron out any problems in the system.

At the meeting of the European Council (EC), also known as the EU summit, on Oct. 19-20, the other 27 EU leaders are assessing overall progress in the Brexit talks so far.

The agenda includes migration, defense, digitalization and external relations, including measures to stem illegal migration, and the reform of the Common European Asylum System -- granting asylum to people fleeing their own countries on the ground they face persecution or danger there.

The planned permanent structured cooperation on defense (PESCO) for EU members to boost their cooperation in military matters will also be discussed, according to a European Council statement.

Council President Donald Tusk earlier ruled out any "breakthrough" at the two-day summit, but said progress could be achieved by the next scheduled meeting of EU leaders in December.

In her letter, May said she was committed to putting "people first" in the negotiations and expected British nationals living on the continent to be treated in the same way.

"I know both sides will consider each other's proposals with an open mind and with flexibility and creativity on both sides. I am confident we can conclude discussions on citizens' rights in the coming weeks," she said.