What chance for British people to retain their EU citizenship?

I guess it is unsurprising, but there has been a jump of more than six times in the number of British people seeking citizenship of another EU country. 

I look at these figures with more than a touch of envy. One of the worst things about Brexit is losing my EU citizenship. It’s not just about freedom to travel. It’s about belonging to an organisation that has democracy, peace and human rights at its heart. The EU flag is the only one I have ever felt comfortable wrapping myself in. There is somewhere on the internet a video of me a the end of Conference Glee club wearing one. I proudly wore my EU flag beret on the march last Saturday.

I love my parents dearly, but there are times I curse them silently for not being Irish.

However,there may be a tiny chink of light. The idea of retaining at least some rights of EU citizenship has been floated ever since the Brexit vote. It’s something that has been supported by Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian liberal who is leading the EU Parliament’s Brexit negotiating team. Earlier this month, the FT reported that some British citizens who live in the Netherlands are taking a case to the European Court of Justice to try to protect their EU citizenship.

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By upholding their EU citizenship, the ECJ would guarantee Britons — at least those now living and working in the EU27 — freedom of movement and residence around the bloc. It would also protect their rights in healthcare, welfare and workplace conditions and probably the right to vote in European Parliament elections. For many of the more than 16m UK-based Britons who voted Remain in the referendum — about 48 per cent of those who cast ballots — the aim is to keep EU citizenship, even if in downgraded form, after Brexit.

So, would you take up EU citizenship if it was on offer after Brexit? Are you eligible for citizenship of any other EU country and would you apply?

I suspect this won’t be very high up the list of priorities. The incompetence of our Government, the way it is actively placing our economic prosperity and the social advances we have made in the last 40 years at risk, means that the basics such as the Northern Irish border and our future trading relationship will be hard enough to sort out.



* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • As I’ve written earlier, I am against this proposal. It gives advantages to UK citizens in the EU, that are denied to EU citizens in the UK. It’s one sided FOM, and a fine example of cherry-picking.

  • I understand that I have the right to German citizenship through my mother. I will be taking it up before Brexit. So ironic that as a descendant of a German Jew I should need to become German to protect my EU rights!

  • Innocent Bystander 30th Jun '18 - 10:39am

    This chink of light is tiny indeed for the exact and obvious reasons Nooderling states.
    However, if you have a million Euros to give away you could become a Malteser.

  • John Marriott 30th Jun '18 - 10:45am

    @Innocent Bystander

    Your choice, mate. Me? I’d rather be a ‘Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut’(case)!

  • @ Mick Taylor “I understand that I have the right to German citizenship through my mother. I will be taking it up before Brexit. So ironic that as a descendant of a German Jew I should need to become German to protect my EU rights!”

    Many people forget that the UK is pretty liberal when it comes to holding multiple nationalities. You want to check out German laws regarding dual nationality before you jump. Remember that after BREXIT we won’t be an EU state any longer, and Germany has different laws regarding Dual nationality when it comes to non EU states.

    I suspect that if you do take up German nationality you won’t be voting in UK elections any more as you may well have to resign your British nationality.

  • If the EU offered “dual nationality” so we could be British and citizens of the EU that would be great. Happy to pay, if it’s reasonable, and by doing so I/we could get seamless travel through the EU. Should only be available to those who committed Remainers though. Leavers may not apply!

  • William Fowler 30th Jun '18 - 2:20pm

    If no deal and the UK refuses to pay 40 billion, the EU could offer the first four million Brits EU passports (not available but why not start now) at 10k each to make up the loss of money. Freedom of movement and residency would be worth that kinda money to many Brits.

    On that note, would the EU go after Brit assets if they decided they had been cheated out of the 40 billion?

  • Noorderling might be right, but I would still jump at the chance of associate EU citizenship if it was on offer.

    I don’t plan on living elsewhere, and I doubt Brexit will seriously impact my holiday plans or business travel, but I’ve been an EU citizen for more than half my life and I’m upset that others are taking that away from me.

  • My other half has invoked a grand father from Galway to snaffle herself Irish citizenship and I have to say that I am thoroughly put out that, even as her hubby, I’m not entitled. So to answer your question, Caron, yes, I’d jump at the chance of EU citizenship.

  • British citizenship is now worthless. The Brexiteers really are a disgrace.

  • William Fowler 1st Jul '18 - 7:12am

    Does British citizenship exist? Thought we were all British subjects. Either way, far from worthless and the EU is playing hardball at the moment so the end deal may still have some freedom of movement.

  • Innocent Bystander 1st Jul '18 - 12:38pm

    I don’t understand this debate. The EU does not offer citizenship. It has no way of doing so. Only Member States can do that. Some states do offer citizenship in exchange for money (usually lots). If the EU can offer citizenship presumably it can impose duties. (I’m all right – I’m too old for military conscription. Best of luck you younger ones. )

  • @ William Fowler
    “Does British citizenship exist? Thought we were all British subjects.”

    You’re a bit out of date. That was changed back in 1949.

  • Peter Hirst 3rd Jul '18 - 1:59pm

    It would seem only natural justice for those who live or work in an eu country or can claim some connection to that country to continue to enjoy eu citizenship whatever the final destination of our negotiations with the eu.

  • @Innocent Bystander – “I don’t understand this debate. The EU does not offer citizenship.”

    I think you have hit a nail on the head! There are many in both the Remain and Leave camps, who think “the EU” is a nation state and not what it actually is. I suspect that from some of the comments arising from members of the Commission over the years that some in the EU would like it to become a nation state as that would make life administratively easier.

  • @Peter Hirst – “It would seem only natural justice for those who live or work in an eu country or can claim some connection to that country to continue to enjoy eu citizenship whatever the final destination of our negotiations with the eu.”

    Currently, I live in a (soon to be ex) EU country, but at times work for clients in several other EU countries – under your rule, do I qualify for “eu citizenship”?

    Being brutally honest, it is easier to deliver (services) business to my clients within the Single Market than it is to those outside; currently, it seems that after Brexit delivering services in person to clients outside of the UK is going to be significantly harder.

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