Is Associate Citizenship Good for Brits?
European Union negotiators have come up with a proposal in the Brexit negotiations that allows Brits an opt-in chance to remain EU citizens. This is a proposal confirmed by the European parliament’s chief negotiator.
The proposal, as reported by The Independent last month, was meant to be a long term amendment but has now fast-tracked and found its way to the negotiation table.
In defending the proposal, Guy Verhofstadt, who heads the post-Brexit deal, said that it captures the “imagination and hopes” of a considerable number of Brits.
With such a plan, the British will be issued with the “associate citizenship” that will see them freely move and work across EU. In addition, they will be allowed to vote in the EU Parliament elections.
Whichever way the EU negotiators looks at this, the proposal is likely to require the approval of the British government.
The negotiators look forward to immediately place the topic on the discussion table once U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May invokes Article 50. The invocation will officially begin the Brexit process.
According to explanation given by Miss May, her government plans to start the whole Brexit process in March.
While speaking to the paper, Verhofstadt said that he’s proud to have seen the idea lofted by the Grand Duchy’s liberal E.U. Parliament member, Charles Goerens, become a major consideration in the yet to begin negotiations. He said that it:
Has captured the imagination and hopes of many of the 48% of Brits that have voted to remain in the E.U.
Goerens, in collaboration with Verhofstadt, strategically decided to shift the proposal from being an amendment that probably would have taken years for implementation.
We realized that this has become a very important issue that cannot await treaty change, as was my intention when I first tabled my amendment, since this might take years, Goerens said.
With such a move, they hope to make Associate citizenship an achievable dream.
Will Associate Citizenship be Good for the Brits?
It goes without question that ever since the Leave Camp won Brexit vote on 23rd June 2016; the 48.1% Remain campaigners have had thousands of concerns. In fact, most of these concerns are common to the UK citizens living in the EU and couldn’t cast a vote in the referendum. With EU citizenship, the members are able to get residency, entry and exit from the territory of EU Member States with no prejudice.
Article 45 has a set of rules that govern these rights based on workers only. In a sharp contrast to this is Article 20 that automatically awards one EU membership based on their country. The Article explains that instead of replacing one’s nationality, EU citizenship adds to it.
Once the withdrawal process completes successfully, British nationals will no longer hold the EU citizenship status. And that is what the minority Remain voters have been lamenting about. Goeren’s earlier suggested Amendment 882 was to provide an opportunity for the voters to opt-in to remain EU citizens. This will now be a negotiating factor on the table. It is assumed that these voters would have wanted to retain the benefits of being part of the supranational entity, including EU citizenship and its associated rights.
Associated Problems follow Associated Citizenship
The Leave camp has been quick to react to this, saying such attempts are “unacceptable” as it would create particular problems. In case the EU makes amendments that permit for this to happen, then it will imply it is not ready to allow for the due process to be followed under Article 50.
Then considering that this proposal is from the EU itself, the political risks involved are at stake. It’s a pointer that the British cannot be allowed to make their own independent political decisions. The European Parliament will basically be undermining the ability of member states to freely exit the EU under Article 50. Had such a suggestion been generated by the UK Parliament, then we would have taken a pose and keenly analyzed the matter. It would probably suggest the member state is keen on retaining the benefits.
The move by the EU to have some UK members not fully exit only serves to widen the fears that the union undermines democracy.
If Goerens proposal was to become a reality, significant amendments to the EU Treaties would be required. The biggest caveat to EU citizenship is that it is additional to national citizenship and should not replace it. For that matter, the proposed associate citizenship raises questions as to whether the competencies highlighted in Article 3 do hold.
At the individual level, the UK citizens will be subjected to double obligations. They will be bound by both the EU and UK laws. What of double taxation? What’s more, citizens will have to contend with security clearance issues.
The Bottom Line
Associate citizenship will only offer an opportunity to live and work freely with the EU with ease. But the drawbacks surpass this as they include possibilities of double taxation, expensive process of obtaining the associate citizenship and being bound by both UK and EU laws. This can particularly turn out critical in case the laws do not sync.
Associate Citizenship is Problematic, Any Alternative?
It is apparent that Goerens suggestion has more problems than any democratic nation would be willing to take. The best alternative to this would be to follow what The Court of Justice of the EU notes in paragraph 46:
“It is for the Court to rule on the questions referred by the national court which concern the conditions in which a citizen of the Union may, because he loses his nationality, lose his status of citizen of the Union and thereby be deprived of the rights attaching to that status.”
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