UK citizens: waving, not drowning

Passport proposal: Luxembourg MEP Charles Goerens hopes to introduce an associate EU citizenship.

Grateful UK citizens have bombarded the office of European MP Charles Goerens with offers of thanks following his proposal to introduce “associate European Union citizenship”.

The Luxembourg MEP last week called for the establishment of a new category of EU citizenship “for those who feel and wish to be part of the European project, but are nationals of a former member state”.

“I am aware that you … worry about your future and I was actually overwhelmed by your spontaneous and, many times, very personal reactions that you shared with me in your emails,” he said in his  response to anxious Britons as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

Mr Goerens proposed an amendment to a draft report by the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) that would allow citizens of former EU member states to retain their EU citizenship along with its associated benefits, such as freedom of movement and the right to reside in the EU.

He told yesterday: “I am doing my utmost to convince my colleagues in the AFCO committee to back my proposal”.

“So far, there is no way to provide a concrete list of names of MEPs backing my proposal. However, I can tell you that many UK MEPs have expressed their support”, he said.

I am doing my utmost to convince my colleagues in the AFCO committee to back my proposal. … I can tell you that many UK MEPs have expressed their support

The Committee on Constitutional Affairs, which would need a simple majority, will be voting on the amendment (number 882) on Monday. The European Parliament will then vote on the recommendations in the report on future treaty changes during a plenary session in December.

“The EU should facilitate associate voluntary EU citizenship for those who, against their will, are being stripped of their European identity,” Mr Goerens, also a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), said.

“Individual EU associate citizenship could provide a practical solution for UK citizens aggrieved by Brexit.”

This associate EU citizenship would also give people the right to vote in European elections and be represented by a MEP.

“Of course, some might argue that the “associate EU citizenship” would grant UK citizens a privilege that EU citizens, who might have to quit their jobs in the UK, do not enjoy,” Mr Goerens said

“Yet, we have considered this issue and therefore propose that the associate citizens pay an annual membership fee directly into the EU budget … following the reciprocal principle of ‘no taxation without representation.”

Some British citizens, worried about losing their EU citizenship along with the right to live, travel and work in the EU, have also thanked Mr Goerens on his Facebook page, “on behalf of the 48 per cent” who voted Remain during the EU referendum.

But, according to some European commentators, and despite a proposed membership fee, it is unlikely that other MEPs would back the amendment as a reciprocal arrangement would not apply to Europeans living in the UK.

An editorial, in the French speaking Luxembourg newspaper Le Quotidien, asks why Charles Goerens is being so “generous”, making the British such an offer on a “silver plate”. It would only encourage them to go ahead with a hard Brexit and they would get what they had always wanted: “close their doors but at the same time allow their own citizens to travel freely in the EU”.

Although the proposed amendment would not infringe on national citizenship, it has outraged Brexiteers.

They have voiced their resentment at the idea of Britons opting in for associate EU citizenship, saying this would further divide British society between the Leave and Remain camps.

Jayne Adye, director of the Get Britain Out campaign said: “This is an outrage. The EU is now attempting to divide the great British public at the exact moment we need unity.

“Discriminating against people based on their political views shows there are no depths the EU will not sink to.”


By Katia Yezli