If you happen to be a determined Brexiter, it is probably better that you do not read this article, since it may lead you to choke on your cornflakes.
For those who do value the European ideal and the opportunities that we have been given to live and work in the country of our choice, there is some news that may help to cheer us all up following the recent traumas of Brexit and Trump.
It is already clear that the decision to leave the EU has caused considerable distress and uncertainty for expats, and particularly for those of advanced years and poor health.
I know of many who are planning to return to the UK, if their health and finances can stand it, others are claiming citizenship rights from their host countries, whilst others remain in a kind of limbo. Confusion, uncertainty and unnecessary stress is not good for any of us, but it may be that there is a glimmer of hope appearing on the horizon.
Charles Goerens, a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group in the European Parliament representing Luxembourg, is calling for the establishment of European associate citizenship for those who wish to continue to be part of the European project, but are nationals of a former European state. Simply put, this associate status would give British expats continued rights, such as freedom of movement and the right to reside in member states of the European Union, as well as being able to stand and vote in European elections.
In return, associate citizens would pay an annual membership fee directly into the European budget. Those who apply for associate status of the EU would continue to retain their British passports and UK citizenship, which would mean that the status quo would continue, albeit for an annual membership fee.
Charles Goerens makes the point that 48 per cent of all British voters wished to remain as European citizens and should continue to have the right to do so. The EU should assist the process in providing a practical solution for UK citizens who are being stripped of their European identity.
Treaty change at European level will be required, since current treaties specify that European citizenship stems directly from national citizenship of member states. European Union citizenship is currently additional to and does not replace national citizenship.
So, what happens next? Nothing substantial can happen until the UK triggers Article 50, which sets the divorce from the EU in motion. Meanwhile, the European Parliament’s Constitutional Committee will vote on the amendments, which will be followed by a vote in the European Parliament as early as next year. Further development of the proposals can only take place during the negotiations that follow Article 50 when current treaties will be updated.
Some Brexiters are, of course, unhappy, with the ‘Get Britain Out’ campaign director complaining that the move will encourage further divisiveness between the British public at a time when unity is required. On the contrary, I think there is little for Brexiters to fear from a move that will offer further democratic choice, and help to protect the rights of those who wish to retain their European identity; one size does not fit all.
If you would like to contact Charles Goerens and for further information, please go to my Expat Survival website: http://expat.barriemahoney.com
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Barrie’s websites: http://barriemahoney.com and http://thecanaryislander.com or read his latest book, ‘Footprints in the Sand’ (ISBN: 9780995602717). Available in paperback, as well as Kindle editions.
© Barrie Mahoney