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    The Union Jack (bottom) and the European Union flag are seen flying, at the border of Gibraltar with Spain, in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, historically claimed by Spain, June 27, 2016, after Britain voted to leave the European Union in the EU Brexit referendum

    Parliament Urges UK Not to Use Human Rights as ‘Bargaining Chip’ in Brexit Talks

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    UK Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) recommended the UK government to adopt a separate preliminary agreement, protecting the residence rights of UK nationals in other EU countries before the Brexit talks.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — While the issue of residence rights of EU nationals staying in Britain and UK nationals in the European Union remains one of the most acute problems related to Brexit, the UK authorities should not use fundamental rights as a bargaining chip in talks with the bloc, the UK Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) said Monday.

    "It is estimated that there are currently 2.9 million EU nationals resident in the UK. Just under 1.2 million UK nationals are thought to live in the 27 other EU Member States. The Secretary of State for International Trade, Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, has reportedly described EU nationals in the UK as one of the "main cards" in Brexit negotiations… We believe that it is not appropriate to treat individuals’ fundamental rights as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the remaining EU Member States," the report said.

    The JCHR stressed that the position on residence rights for EU and UK citizens was unclear, depending on many factors, therefore, the committee recommended the UK government to adopt a separate preliminary agreement, protecting the residence rights of UK nationals in other EU countries before the Brexit talks.

    The report said that whereas the UK authorities would continue to have obligations in accordance with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to privacy, home and family life, these rights were "in no way absolute" and did not "provide the same protections as offered by EU law."

    According to the JCHR, British citizens returning from other EU states may face difficulties regarding entitlement to benefits, like pensions or housing benefits.

    "Should any UK citizen currently resident in the EU have to return to the UK post-Brexit, a further issue may arise as to their entitlement to benefits, including job seeker’s allowance, housing benefit, universal credit and pension credit," the report said.

    The committee called on the government to urgently address the issue of residence rights, publish its proposed "Great Repeal Bill" in draft, envisaging end of EU legal supremacy in Britain, as well as to ensure that the standards included in current EU-UK trade agreements would be maintained post-Brexit.

    In June, the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. Soon after the referendum, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the country would trigger the Article 50 of the EU Lisbon Treaty by the end of March 2017, thus beginning withdrawal negotiations.

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    Brexit, UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights, European Union, United Kingdom
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