The European Commission has backed a newly-launched petition calling for Britons to be able to retain EU rights after Brexit.
The petition – ‘Permanent European Union Citizen’ – has this week launched as a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI).
‘The main objective of the proposed initiative is to guarantee that European citizenship and its associated rights cannot be lost once they have been attained,’ the Commission claimed.
‘The organisers cite in particular the context of Brexit and the future loss of EU citizenship and rights to UK citizens.’
Brits will lose EU citizenship if Brexit happens – either in March 2019 or after a transitional period at a later date.
An ECI allows EU citizens to challenge the Commission in areas where it can legislate. It requires one million signatures from at least seven of 28 member states for a petition to be considered.
Although not a binding agreement, it could lead to legislation to ensure British citizens are given EU citizenship after Brexit. This would grant specific rights to citizens such as the right to travel and live anywhere in the EU, and vote and stand in specific European elections.
Guy Verhofstadt, chief Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament, tweeted: ‘Many Brits are distraught their EU citizenship is being taken from them. The decision by @EU_Commission to open a petition on this is important & deserves support. The @Europarl_EN & I have repeatedly called for an examination on how to mitigate this loss.’
• To sign the petition visit the European Citizens’ Initiative website• MORE: Tips on other ways to remain an EU citizen after Brexit