Jill Morris and Angelino Alfano, latest on Brexit

ROME - “Greater clarity and discussion on some questions” is needed in regard to Brexit and Italy, according to Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, in a phone call with Boris Johnson on Wednesday. British Ambassador Jill Morris also released a statement on Thursday, highlighting her “responsibility to represent and protect the interests of UK nationals in Italy.”

Ms Morris communicated the UK’s intention of  enabling law-abiding EU citizens who have settled in the UK before a not yet specified date to “apply for permanent residence under British law, along with their families.” This would bring with it access to UK healthcare, benefits, pensions and social housing. She underline the offer would be made on the “basis of reciprocity” between the EU and the UK, in favour of the 5 - 600,000 Italians in the UK, and the 30.000 Britons in Italy. 

Despite this hopeful collaboration between the EU and the UK, Ms Morris stressed that “no changes will take place until the Article 50 process has concluded in March 2019”, so until then, it’s a waiting game. She is, however, optimistic that “we can reach agreement early on.”

Alfano shared Ms Morris’ vision of cooperating together to achieve a Brexit that works for both EU and UK citizen’s rights in Wednesday’s phonecall with Boris Johnson, hoping to “minimize the negative effect of Brexit.” Having referred to the British government's policy paper on Brexit as “a good start”, he also, however, pointed out some bumps in the road to a happy-ever-after agreement. 

These issues which “arouse great concern among (Italians) living in the UK” include the need to identify a jurisdictional seat, the definition of the cut-off date, and the conditions of some who feel particularly insecure, such as non-EU relatives, and minors born after Brexit, a well as university students. 

The pair also discussed the Charlie Gard case, after the Pope offered for the 10-month-old to be treated in Rome, with Johnson saying he should not be transferred to an Italian hospital and that it is “right that decisions continued to be led by expert medical opinion, supported by the courts.”