EU parliament and UK lawmakers support Brit expats rights

Published:  12 Mar at 6 PM
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The result of last week’s House of Commons parliamentary debate on EU citizenship along with news of a European parliament draft resolution could be a lifeline for UK expats in Europe.

Last week, the British House of Commons passed a motion urging the government to ensure Britons could keep their EU citizenship post-Brexit. The proposal, submitted by Welsh MP Hywel Williams, also urged the UK government to allow Britain to stay in the EU single market. Although the result of the debate isn’t legally binding on government it does require a full response by ministers within the following 12 weeks.

Minister for Immigration Caroline Noakes told parliament the UK government would be happy to discuss ‘associate EU citizenship’ with the EU negotiators but noted the EU hadn’t proposed this as a solution to the total removal of UK expats’ rights. The government, she added, sees EU citizenship as being tied to EU member state citizenship, which Britons will lose once Brexit is finalised.

On the same day as the debate, the European Parliament published a draft resolution setting out its Brexit stance, in which it requested the retention of voting rights for British citizens living in the EU along with free movement. It also supported the protection of future partners’ and spouses’ residence rights as noted in the EC’s draft withdrawal treaty. In addition, the resolution insisted expats arriving in EU member states during the post-Brexit transition period should be granted the same rights as those who arrived before March 2019.

Interestingly, the draft resolution also noted the recent Amsterdam court case calling for UK citizens to be allowed to keep EU citizenship and its conferred rights post-Brexit. Finally, the draft resolution called for procedures for expats applying for permanent residency to be declaratory, clear and straightforward, with the burden of proof shifted from applicants to the authorities. Voting on the resolution will take place later this week.
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