The proposal from Mr Charles Goerens, one of Luxembourg’s MEPs, for associate citizenship of the EU for nationals of a former Member State is of course an attractive one to the millions of people in the UK who voted to remain in the EU and wish to retain some of their EU rights. It is also a nice gesture from our continental colleagues.
When first proposed in November, this was an amendment tabled by Mr Goerens to a draft report by Guy Verhofstadt in the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs committee about possible future changes to the EU treaties. This would have required a treaty amendment agreed by all Member States and ratified by their national parliaments or referenda, which was not very likely to happen.
After discussions with Mr Verhofstadt early this month, Mr Goerens decided to withdraw his amendment as he realised that this was a very important issue that could not await an unlikely treaty change. This decision was based on Mr Verhofstadt’s commitment, as lead Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament, to include a proposal for individual EU citizenship for UK citizens on an opt-in basis in the parliament’s negotiating mandate with the UK government.
Although there are of course no guarantees that this will form part of the final Brexit agreement between the EU and the UK, the proposal for Associate EU Citizenship for UK citizens is more likely to succeed through this procedure than through a treaty amendment.
I, for my part, support the principle of the proposal and will of course make the case for the retention of as many EU rights and freedoms as possible for UK citizens in the government’s Brexit negotiations, if indeed we do go ahead with leaving the European Union.
I spoke to LBC’s Clive Bull about this in November.