Dutch union leaders, not only in Britain but all around the EU, are quite unhappy that after months of wrangling the Brexit deadline has passed but British officials are now proposing residency visas for EU citizens in the short term so they aren’t left short-staffed when the UK leaves the EU on March 29, 2019.
“We are not interested in taking the offer,” an official with the Verkeven Labor Party told Dutch broadcaster RTL.
And Dutch EU politician Sybrand van Haersma Buma, vice-president of the party, which is part of the ruling coalition, echoed this sentiment, telling Eurosport that British demands had collapsed.
“It isn’t credible at all and it has nothing to do with Brexit,” Van Haersma Buma told the news outlet.
But the officials for the Leave.EU – the group campaigning for Britain to leave the EU – said that even if the offer isn’t enough – it has at least been put forward as an incentive to continued talks on future ties between the two parties.
“The only tangible offer put forward in the last two days was the suggestion to offer residency to EU citizens with no visa for a limited time,” spokesman Matthew Elliott said in a statement. “We believe this is an intelligent, constructive step and an important incentive to avoid no deal.”
The group posted a statement on Twitter that said the visa offer came from a meeting between British and European officials in Brussels, adding that the offer was welcomed by most national governments.
The measure was meant to entice people to Britain in the case of a no-deal Brexit. But British officials said Wednesday that the offer has been on the table for months and a “mixed reaction” was received from EU government heads, the Guardian reported.
There is a concern in certain EU capitals that European workers might find it difficult to get permanent residence papers because many EU citizens must pass a language test and pay for a personal interview.
Dutch news site NOS also reported Wednesday that Dutch and German EU officials had told British officials they consider the offer “unrealistic” and “unattractive.”
Elliott added that the British offer was just the first step in “a lengthy negotiation process that will in the end provide the guarantees needed to solve one of the most serious challenges the EU faces today.”
But Julie Bishop, the foreign minister for Australia, said Tuesday that the offer could be a “good gesture.”
The Irish leader, Leo Varadkar, echoed the concerns, saying it would be “crazy” to offer the visa to Irish citizens and they would need to “significantly enhance” their work permits if they wanted them.
Last week, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the island of Ireland might be a “special case” in the Brexit talks because of the issue of an open border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
“We think it’s important that whatever agreement that is reached for us to leave the European Union also respects the different circumstances between the north and the south of Ireland,” May said.
This is not the first time the union chiefs have openly opposed the deal.
After the trade deal with Canada was announced by then-Prime Minister David Cameron in October, Bernd Juncker, president of the European Commission, said British people had voted to leave the EU so the British government shouldn’t negotiate one-sided terms.
“I said before this week’s Summit that a proper Brexit could do nothing good for this continent, and the document to be concluded in Brussels this week will only confirm that,” Juncker said, according to Reuters.
France was also reportedly outraged by the potential relocation of 400,000 foreign workers from Britain into the EU in its post-Brexit planning, according to UK media reports.
Fox News’ Geoff Dickens contributed to this report.