A UK citizen who has been residing in France for 36 years has introduced a case to the Courtroom of Justice of the European Union that might have profound implications for British individuals residing in European international locations after Brexit. The lady is hoping to retain some citizenship rights after she ceases to be a European citizen.
British individuals arguably misplaced their EU citizenship on January 31 when the UK ceased to be a member state. This modifications their rights with regards to residing and dealing in EU international locations – and even in travelling freely within the EU. When the Brexit transition interval ends on December 31 2020, a interval of main uncertainty begins.
The regulation is rarely easy. When the principles on residents’ rights had been drawn up, it wasn’t with a view to figuring out what to do if a member state ever left the EU. Earlier than Brexit, EU residents would solely ever have been at risk of dropping their EU citizenship if their nationwide citizenship of an EU member state was withdrawn. This solely pertains to people who find themselves not EU residents by beginning and have both gained their citizenship by way of fraud or are jeopardising it as a result of they dedicated a criminal offense.
There have been efforts to carry the problem of the lack of UK-EU citizenry to the eye of the European court docket earlier than however they’ve failed. These circumstances have principally primarily based their argument on what known as the basic standing of EU citizenship. That is the concept that EU citizenship is a proper that can’t be arbitrarily withdrawn. That is one thing the European Courtroom launched after which developed in its previous determination making ever because the case of a French scholar who fought to be given entry to authorities advantages in Belgium. On this case the Courtroom launched the concept that “union citizenship is destined to be the basic standing of nationals of the member states, enabling those that discover themselves in the identical state of affairs to get pleasure from the identical remedy in regulation no matter their nationality, topic to such exceptions as are expressly supplied for”.
Within the context of Brexit, the argument is that British EU residents have finished nothing to warrant dropping their rights, even when the UK is leaving the union. Nobody has efficiently argued this case in court docket, nonetheless. Circumstances have to be delivered to the European court docket by home courts, which hear circumstances after which ahead inquiries to the EU degree the place wanted. Claimants have by no means satisfied a nationwide court docket questions of their case ought to be despatched to the EU judicator – till now.
On this French case, a UK citizen residing in France argues she mustn’t have been struck off the electoral roll for the French municipal elections held in March 2020. Voting and standing in regional and communal elections are rights inherent to EU citizenship. The French court docket is due to this fact asking the European court docket, amongst different issues, to make clear whether or not the Brexit withdrawal settlement, along with Article 50 must be understood to outcome within the lack of EU citizenship for all former British EU residents.
The reference to the European court docket additionally features a query on the standing of EU citizenship for a particular group of UK residents – those that have made use of their proper to free motion earlier than the tip of the Brexit transition interval and have been settled in an EU member state for over 15 years. The timeframe is necessary, as it’s after 15 years that UK residents lose their proper to vote in UK elections.. If, as on this French case, these residents are actually dropping their voting rights of their host nation, they develop into politically disenfranchised.
The end result might be notably attention-grabbing for the estimated 1.3 million UK residents residing within the EU. Many will hope that Brexit doesn’t need to imply an finish to their rights.
The case argues that UK residents who’ve settled in an EU member state had the legit expectation that they might be capable to keep there indefinitely. They legitimately assumed after they determined to to migrate from the UK that the rights they’d after they first settled would live on.
What occurs subsequent?
Within the best-case state of affairs, the CJEU will present a transparent reply to the query concerning the lack of EU citizenship for UK residents overseas with a powerful “no”.
However wanting that, even just a few clarification about what is going to and gained’t occur to those individuals after Brexit can be welcome. A constructive determination by this court docket would make clear their standing, present them with safe residency, equal remedy and political rights, that may in any other case rely upon the state they selected as their new dwelling.
It may very well be years earlier than the CJEU reaches a call on this case, so it’s necessary for UK residents residing within the EU to not get their hopes up. On the similar time, they’re residing with none authorized certainty in any respect. The Brexit withdrawal settlement signed by the UK and EU says that member states want to make sure any UK residents residing of their territory can register for a brand new proper to stay. However normally, this new standing doesn’t evaluate to the basic standing of EU citizenship. The rights it confers are minimal and don’t robotically embrace entry to healthcare. It’s as much as every member state to determine what they need to provide, underneath which situations and for the way lengthy.
That’s why it’s price maintaining a tally of this case because it travels to the CJEU. It might provide far higher authorized certainty for UK nationals affected by Brexit.
Anne Wesemann doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that may profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.