Britons’ EU citizenship case “inadmissible”, says Dutch judge

A Dutch judge decided on February 4 that the case brought by a group of British residents on maintaining EU citizenship after Brexit was “inadmissible”.

Four Britons in Netherlands, represented by legal firm Bureau Brandeis, had argued in court that they had not received correct information on their post-Brexit rights from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). The IND invited some 45,000 UK citizens living in the Netherlands to apply for a new residence permit. In the communications, it said that they will no longer be EU citizens as of 29 March 2019.

But the claimants said that EU citizenship is an acquired right that cannot be revoked. They wanted the Amsterdam court to ask the European Court of Justice to clarify.

The judge decided instead that the case was “inadmissible” because British nationals will not be damaged as a result of the information they received. They should have made their request to an immigration court, the judge added.

The case follows a similar legal challenge last year, which was also lost. Both cases were based on the argument that Article 20 of the EU Treaty, which grants EU citizenship to nationals of EU member states, does not say what happens if a country leaves the Union. The assumption is that with Brexit, British nationals will lose EU citizenship and related rights, including free movement in the EU. A ruling could have made a difference for all UK citizens living in the EU.

Stephen Huyton, one of the plaintiffs, commented: “I am disappointed at the decision. We will not have the chance to have an interpretation of Article 20 from the European Court of Justice. It is now too late to have it before Brexit.” He said the group does not plan to appeal the decision.

“It is not difficult to rebut the reasoning [of the judgment]”, Jacob van de Velde of Bureau Brandeis told Europe Street. “We will examine the judgment carefully and consider our next steps”.

Criticisms to the EU approach

Separately, a group of legal experts based in the Netherlands has criticised the European Commission on the way it has dealt with British nationals in the EU during the Brexit negotiations. The Meijers Committee, which is made of professors, judges, attorneys and academics from across Europe, said in a recent paper that the level of protection offered in the event of no deal Brexit is not adequate and does not reflect EU principles.

The group recommended the EU to adopt a regulation granting UK nationals living in the Union the same rights covered by the draft withdrawal agreement.

“The treatment of the approximately one million UK nationals living in the 27 member states after a no deal Brexit is a test case on whether the Union takes its own principles seriously or not,” the committee said.

Claudia Delpero © all rights reserved.

Photo via Pixabay. This article was published on February 5 and was updated on February 8, 2019

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