A UK citizen who has been dwelling in France for 36 years has introduced a case to the Court docket of Justice of the European Union that would have profound implications for British individuals dwelling in European nations after Brexit. The girl 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 adjustments their rights in relation to dwelling and dealing in EU nations – 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 legislation 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ever have been in peril of shedding their EU citizenship if their nationwide citizenship of an EU member state was withdrawn.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 against the law.
There have been efforts to deliver the difficulty of the lack of UK-EU citizenry to the eye of the European courtroom earlier than however they’ve failed. These circumstances have principally based mostly their argument on what is known as the basic standing of EU citizenship. That is the concept that EU citizenship is a proper that can not be arbitrarily withdrawn. That is one thing the European Court docket launched after which developed in its previous choice making ever because the case of a French scholar who fought to be given entry to authorities advantages in Belgium. On this case the Court docket 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 scenario to take pleasure in the identical remedy in legislation no matter their nationality, topic to such exceptions as are expressly offered for”.
Within the context of Brexit, the argument is that British EU residents have executed nothing to warrant shedding their rights, even when the UK is leaving the union. Nobody has efficiently argued this case in courtroom, nevertheless. Instances must be dropped at the European courtroom by home courts, which hear circumstances after which ahead inquiries to the EU stage the place wanted. Claimants have by no means satisfied a nationwide courtroom questions of their case needs 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 courtroom is subsequently asking the European courtroom, amongst different issues, to make clear whether or not the Brexit withdrawal settlement, along with Article 50 needs to be understood to end result within the lack of EU citizenship for all former British EU residents.
The reference to the European courtroom 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 top of the Brexit transition interval and have been settled in an EU member state for over 15 years. The timeframe is essential, 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 at the moment are shedding their voting rights of their host nation, they turn out to be politically disenfranchised.
The end result will probably be significantly fascinating for the estimated 1.three million UK residents dwelling 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 reliable expectation that they might be capable to keep there indefinitely. They legitimately assumed once they determined to to migrate from the UK that the rights they’d once they first settled would live on.
What occurs subsequent?
Within the best-case situation, the CJEU will present a transparent reply to the query relating to the lack of EU citizenship for UK residents overseas with a convincing “no”.
However in need of 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 choice by this courtroom would make clear their standing, present them with safe residency, equal remedy and political rights, that might in any other case rely on the state they selected as their new dwelling.
It could possibly be years earlier than the CJEU reaches a call on this case, so it’s essential for UK residents dwelling within the EU to get their hopes up. On the identical time, they’re dwelling 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 dwelling of their territory can register for a brand new proper to stay. However most often, this new standing doesn’t examine to the basic standing of EU citizenship. The rights it confers are minimal and don’t routinely embrace entry to healthcare. It’s as much as every member state to determine what they wish to supply, beneath which circumstances 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 supply far larger authorized certainty for UK nationals affected by Brexit.