I had the chance to speak up for citizens’ rights in the European Parliament this week. I paid tribute to Guy Verhofstadt for his focus on EU27 citizens’ rights in the UK & the rights of Brits in the EU.
Plus a surprising model for EU associate individual citizenship…
Find below a copy of my response to constituents who have contacted me about the possibility of associate European citizens’ rights:
I, too, am heartbroken at the prospect of the UK’s imminent departure from the EU. I share your desire to find a solution to allow UK citizens to retain their EU citizenship on an individual basis, and fully support associate EU citizenship as a possible course of action.
Liberal Democrat MEPs sit with the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament. I have actively lobbied my Renew colleague, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Chair of the Brexit Steering Group, in person to keep pushing the European Commission and European Council to grant associate citizenship for UK nationals after Brexit.
As the Parliament’s lead Brexit negotiator, Guy is also responsible for drawing up a recommendation for Parliament on whether to approve or reject the Withdrawal Agreement. MEPs from all groups in Parliament are currently negotiating a motion for a resolution that sets out the conditions that need to be met for Parliament to approve the Withdrawal Agreement.
Section 20 of the motion offers an opportunity to pave the way for future discussions on associate citizenship for UK citizens, which I lobbied Guy to include. The motion was still being negotiated between all the groups last week and, of course, we have to be realistic about the chances of the EU and its remaining Member States agreeing to this. But I will continue to fight hard for associate citizenship, and we asked Guy for this section to be strengthened even further if it is possible to do so. The motion for a resolution will be put to a vote in the full European Parliament this Wednesday.
Since being elected on 23 May, all 16 Liberal Democrat MEPs have worked tirelessly with MEP colleagues from Renew Europe to highlight the damage Brexit will do to the UK and to our relationship with Europe. We will continue to push for associate citizenship with the EU and will vote for it at every opportunity. We will also press for the closest possible relationship between the UK and the EU after Brexit to ensure UK citizens’ rights in the EU27 and EU27 citizens’ rights in the UK are protected.
Please rest assured that I feel as strongly as you do about this issue and am equally devastated by what happened in December. I will continue to fight and stand up for the interests of those who voted and campaigned to remain in the EU. If there is anything at all in my power to change the outcome, I will find it.
Thank you again for getting in touch.
Martin Horwood MEP
Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for the South West of England & Gibraltar