One million signatures needed for push to legalise EU passports to UK expats

Published:  15 Feb at 6 PM
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The UK expat campaign group Bremain in Spain is joining forces with Choose Freedom Campaign in promoting a European Citizens Initiative seeking a million EU citizens’ signatures.

Active in fighting for UK expats’ rights to remain in Spain after Brexit is finalised, Bremain in Spain spokesperson Sue Wilson told the Olive Press the move is a great opportunity for those who were unable to vote in the Brexit referendum to make their views known. Many long-term UK expat residents in Spain were unable to vote due to the UK’s 15-year disenfranchisement ruling, and will now be able to affirm their commitment to staying in Spain and the EU.

The proposal asks the European Commission to consider issuing EU passports to UK expats affected by Brexit. Wilson added that, even if the campaign’s efforts are rejected by the EC, it will at least prove to every European government the strength of British expat commitment to EU citizenship. One million signatures, gathered from citizens of a minimum of seven European member states in addition to expats are needed in order to ensure the proposal can be submitted to the European parliament for consideration.

The votes must be collected over a period of no more than one year, and once the presentation has been made, the European Commission can take up to three months to deliver its verdict. At present some 4,000 votes have been entered, but prospective voters in Portugal, France, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Austria are not allowed to contribute, leaving UK expats and citizens in the rest of the European member states to pick up the tab and register their feelings.

Expats in Spain as well as EU residents of any nationality excepting those listed above are being urged to vote by visiting Bremain in Spain’s website. The move is based on the 2012 Lisbon Treaty’s introduction of the European Union Citizens’ Initiatives, intended to allow EU citizens make their views known about EU policies using direct democracy. Several previous initiatives have borne fruit, forcing the adoption of EC policies in sectors as diverse as water pollution and vivisection.

The EC already has the power to issue EU passports, although that power is somewhat limited in application and has to date only been used for officials and diplomats. However, the rules state allowing of ‘extension on exceptional bases to special applicants upon due motivation’, with Choose Freedom Campaign believing exceptions could be made in order to allow UK citizen expats to get on with their chosen lives post-Brexit.
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