MEP: Brexiteers should not worry about UK being a 'rule-taker' during transition

Brexiteers should not be worried about Britain having to follow European Union rules drawn up during a post-Brexit transition period as it is "technically very unlikely" there will be time for any to be introduced, a senior MEP has said.

Roberto Gualtieri, who sits on the European Parliament's Brexit steering committee, said the timescale was too tight for the UK to be forced to implement rules drawn up while it is not a member state.

This is because there will be European Parliament elections in 2019 and a new European Commission will not be in place until autumn that year, meaning it is unlikely there will be time for new legislation to be brought forward before the end of the transition of around two years.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

In a bid to calm Eurosceptic fears, Brexit Secretary David Davis has said the UK will seek the establishment of an "appropriate process" to object to any new laws introduced during transition.

But Mr Gualtieri said the UK is likely to have had its say as a member state on any new EU rules that come into force during that period.

He told reporters in London after meetings with Theresa May and senior Cabinet ministers: "I suggest not to overestimate the situation.

"This problem is honestly, I think practically, is not so great.

"So I expect, I hope that the UK will not put into question this clause because it is reasonable and inoffensive."

The Italian MEP also said that during a meeting with Home Secretary Amber Rudd she assured him EU nationals living in Britain will be able to register to stay in the country after Brexit through a system that will be "as simple as signing up for an online shopping website".

EU citizens rally in Trafalgar Square, London. (John Stillwell/PA)
EU citizens rally in Trafalgar Square, London. (John Stillwell/PA)

EU citizens who arrive by exit day on March 29 2019 and have been continuously and lawfully living in the UK for five years will be able to apply to stay indefinitely by getting settled status.

But Mr Gualtieri warned the Prime Minister that the rights of EU citizens who come to Britain during the transition must also be maintained under free movement law.

Mrs May last week sparked a row with Brussels by insisting that those arriving after the Brexit date of March 2019 could not expect to enjoy the same rights as those who came before.

But Mr Gualtieri told reporters: "We cannot have a diminution of rights which goes beyond the EU acquis.

"The EU acquis is the EU acquis.

"If we grandfather the rights of freedom of movement of goods as if applying the rule that currently applies in the transition, we cannot on the contrary take out pieces of the rules which are in the union legislation in the transition."