LONDON (AP/CNN) - As Britain prepares to leave the European Union on Friday, many EU citizens in the country say they feel anxious, angry and abandoned.
The U.K. government says the more than 3 million EU citizens can stay and carry on with their lives, as long as they apply for confirmation of their “settled status.”
More than 2.7 million have already done so. But many resent having to apply to stay in the land they call home, and some worry what the future may bring.
Dutch citizen Elly Wright, who has lived in Britain for 51 years, says “it makes you feel confused and angry, and also infinitely sad at times.”
Brexit is a wound for the European Union, and there needs to be enough time to negotiate the future relationship between UK and Europe, European Parliament President David Sassoli told CNN.
“To think of London being far from Brussels, and Rome and Paris, there’s certainly pain involved in that, but we have to respect the will of British citizens and a new chapter in our relations with the UK is opening, and we believe that this agreement which we have will be improved, and we have to develop it as well, and we need time for that,” Sassoli said in an interview in Brussels.
He stressed that “friendly relations” with United Kingdom will continue, and that the EU will have to protect its interests “but not competitively.”
Sassoli insisted that putting in place a “good agreement” on the future relationship between UK and EU will take time, and expressed concern that the UK government has ruled out an extension to the transition period, which ends in December 2020. “Well, it’s a very complicated agreement you know. After 45 years and more of cooperation we have to bear that in mind when we look at the future relationship, it’s very very intensive work that we have to do, I don’t think that anybody could think we could do that in a couple of months,” he said.
Sassoli also said that the EU does not have any “jealousy problems” over UK negotiating a trade deal with the US, and that it’s in the interest of all three parties - Europe, UK and US - to have strong cooperation.