Surprise parliamentary debate on EU citizenship for UK expats

Published:  9 Mar at 6 PM
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Following a call from Plaid Cymru, Britain’s Welsh nationalist party, a parliamentary debate on EU citizenship for UK expats is taking place.

The minority political party believes the UK’s Brexit negotiators should include the proposal in future talks, thus allowing Britons living in EU member states to have at least a chance of retaining their European citizenship and its associated rights. Plaid Cymru has also launched a petition on the topic which explains the reasons why their demand is relevant to expats’ futures in their chosen countries of residence.

The Welsh party believes stripping people of their citizenship without their agreement is not only wrong, but is also illegal according to experts on international law. As a result of losing EU citizenship, British expats lose their freedom to remain in their chosen location, continue their businesses, travel visa-free on business or pleasure in EU member states, access healthcare, study in their chosen European universities and possibly lose access to their retirement pensions. All of which are due to be removed against British EU citizens’ will.

The debate is taking place after the recent Amsterdam court hearing on the same subject which resulted in the case being referred to the European Court of Justice. Due to an appeal against the referral by the Dutch authorities, the ECJ ruling will now be set back to a date following the appeal hearing on April 19. Campaigners believe the Dutch appeal amounts to a deliberate attempt to delay the final judgement.

Should the ECJ ruing finally go against the maintenance of EU citizenship, the fate of several millions of UK expats will depend on the final EU/UK exit deal. A draft version of the EU’s take on the issue is now available but, according to expat campaigners working with the British in Europe Coalition, it contains continuing inadequacies including a ban on free movement within the EU, a rule which would result in disaster for cross-border expat businesses as well as expats wishing to visit family and friends or move to another EU country for work.
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