World News

On Brexit eve, Barnier pledges to defend expats' rights

FILE PHOTO: EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier arrives at the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said he would defend the rights of expatriates once Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Britain’s withdrawal from the EU on Wednesday.

“Brexit made EU citizens worry about their future in EU27 and UK. EU will be firm on their rights,” the former French foreign minister tweeted on Tuesday after meeting campaigners for the rights of EU citizens living in Britain.

The campaign group, known as the3milion, wants the three million citizens of the other 27 EU member states who live in Britain to be assured they can stay after Brexit in two years’ time. A million or so Britons live in other EU countries.

Laying out his priorities ahead of May’s notification of withdrawal, Barnier said last week that guaranteeing the rights of European citizens who had chosen to live abroad would be “an absolute priority from the very start”.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; @macdonaldrtr; Editing by Robin Pomeroy