Parliament seeks to ‘mitigate’ loss of EU citizenship – but no explicit pledge on associate citizenship

A draft resolution by the European Parliament seeks to ‘mitigate’ the loss of EU citizenship rights by Britons abroad, but in its current wording it does not explicitly offer voluntary ‘associate citizenship’ for Britons as had been hoped.

29 March 2017
By Oliver Rowland

Last night a spokesman for lead negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said he was still ‘fighting’ for inclusion of a paragraph on associate citizenship for Britons, however the draft that has been leaked in The Guardian newspaper appears to fall short of this - though it does not rule it out.

The paragraph says the parliament: “Takes note that many UK citizens have expressed strong opposition to losing the rights they currently enjoy under article 20 of the Treaty of Lisbon [this establishes EU citizenship with free movement and voting rights] and proposes that the EU27 examine how to mitigate this within the limits of EU primary law, whilst fully respecting the principles of reciprocity, equity, symmetry and non-discrimination.”

The spokesman for Mr Verhofstadt confirmed to Connexion the draft is genuine. He added: “It's the right draft and it describes EU citizenship in an indirect way but it's still there and that's what counts.

“Parliament's formal line still is for British people to be able to keep EU citizenship (or something very similar) on an individual basis.”

In another section the draft says the exit agreement between the UK and EU must set out the legal status and rights of expats (and former expats) on both sides.

It also says EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU must be treated fairly and their interests must be given full priority in the negotiations.

Their status should “reflect principles of reciprocity, equity, symmetry, non-discrimination and the protection of EU law, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights”.

Furthermore, “any degradation of the right of residency before the date of withdrawal from the EU by the UK is against EU law”.

The resolution will be debated by the parliament, with a final vote expected on April 3 or 4. 

The draft also says:

  • The exit agreement may only be concluded with the consent of the parliament
  • Negotiations should start as soon as possible
  • Without an agreement the UK would exit on March 29, 2019 'in a disorderly manner'
  • The Brexit should compel the EU27 to reflect on their future and efforts to make the European project more effective, more democratic and closer to their citizens
  • Revoking article 50 is possible, but would be subject to conditions set by all EU27 states so it cannot be used as a 'procedural device' or 'abused in an attempt to improve the terms of the UK's membership'
  • Negotiations will be conducted in full transparency
  • The UK will remain a full EU member with responsibilities and rights until it leaves
  • It should not start trade negotiations with third party countries before it leaves
  • It should not seek bilateral agreements with any EU member states on matters under negotiation in the exit agreement
  • The parliament seeks a fair and balanced relationship and regrets the UK’s decision not to remain in the single market, EEA or customs union; the UK will not have similar benefits to an EU state. Continued UK membership of these would have been 'the optimal solution' but it is not possible if the UK maintains its objections to the four freedoms, the jurisdiction of the European Court and contributions to the EU budget, and wants to conduct its own trade policy
  • The exit agreement must include settling the UK’s financial obligations and the designation of the European Court of Justice as competent for interpreting and enforcing the agreement
  • If constructive progress is made in the negotiations for the UK’s exit, talks could start on possible transitional arrangements for the future relationship, however a full agreement on that relationship (including trade) can only be concluded after the UK has left
  • The future agreement on the UK/EU relationship must not involve any ‘trade-offs’ between security and defence cooperation and the economic relationship
  • A future agreement will depend on the UK continuing to meet certain standards in areas such as the environment, tax evasion, fair competition and social policy
  • The agreement should not single out for special treatment certain economic sectors such as financial services and give certain businesses preferential access to the single market and/or customs union
  • If the UK wants to continue to participate in certain EU schemes, like Erasmus, as a third [non-EU] country – which is welcome – it must make appropriate budget contributions and allow oversight by EU judges
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