top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

European green card proposed as solution

Idea gains momentum as Brexit looms

A proposal for a “European green card” that would prove and maintain EU free movement rights for Britons, and for EU citizens living in the UK, after Brexit is gathering momentum.

The idea, put forward by the pro-EU group New Europeans, has support from a growing number of MEPs and the public (57,000 have signed a petition at ). The New Europeans have now been invited to a hearing with the constitutional affairs committee of the European Parliament.

The group, which won a presidential medal from President Macron, hopes MEPs will put the card idea forward as an EU law.

It would mean Britons who have obtained an EU right of permanent residency due to living abroad in the EU for at least five years before Brexit would be issued with a card gua­ranteeing continuing rights, inclu­ding free movement across the EU.

The card could also be presented at the French border on return from a trip outside the EU (such as to the UK) to show that the holder does not need an Etias (online application for permission for non-EU visitors to the EU, due to start in 2021).

In daily life, the card could confirm the holder should be treated for practical purposes as if they were an EU citizen.

For EU citizens living in the UK before Brexit, it would be proof of their ‘settled status’. In the UK there will not be cards but a system of proof online.

New Europeans founder Roger Casale said the card would be for those with EU permanent cartes de séjour, or rights under a Brexit deal if there is one, or for those granted similar residency status after a no-deal Brexit if individual EU states make laws for this (as in France, see here).

He said: “The green card will be needed whether there’s a deal or not. It would not be a way to secure residency rights but, once secured, it would ring-fence your other rights as an EU citizen, in particular free movement.

“This is especially important for British people who need to travel freely around the EU for work. Or if they decide to up sticks and move to Spain, it would allow them to do that without a visa or carte de séjour.

Beyond that, there are many administrative issues you don’t need to worry about if you have EU rights. And how will the French distinguish between a Briton with rights under a deal, or a unilateral guarantee after a no-deal, and someone who has come later? A green card is how.”

As well as MEPs, former Finnish Prime Minister Alex Stubb and British “EU Super­girl” campaigner Madeleina Kay support the idea.

Mr Casale said: “The MEPs passed a motion in 2017 saying they would not sign off the withdrawal agreement until a way had been found to give back freedom of movement to Britons in the EU. This will do that.

“It is critical people get behind it; it will help to relieve anxiety because now so many people have lost hope.”

He said the card is “the only show in town” as the agreed deal did not allow for free movement and a previous ‘associate EU citizenship’ idea did not take off.

“We say it should ring-fence all the current status and rights – even voting in local and EU elections – and it should also be given to those waiting to acquire rights after five years. In practice what we get will depend on what the commis­sion decides and the EU Council agrees to.”

British Labour MEP Julie Ward said: “Britons face having citizenship rights taken away and the card would be a step in the right direction.

“But you don’t get things done unless you are determined, and citizen pressure – such as signing New Europeans’ petition – can make a massive difference.”

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Income Tax in France 2023 (for 2022 income)*
Featured Help Guide
- Primarily aimed at Britons, covers pensions, rent, ISAs, shares, savings and interest - but also contains significant general information pertinent to readers of other nationalities - Overview of online declarations + step-by-step guide to the French printed forms - Includes updates given automatically after this year's site opened
Get news, views and information from France