Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, today confirmed that the EU will offer British citizens the chance to individually opt-in and remain EU citizens, as a proposal in its Brexit negotiations. Luxembourg MEP Charles Goerens, who originally tabled the proposals in the form of an amendment to the EU treaty, said the proposals could be part of a new European Parliament resolution on Brexit in early 2017. The proposal to offer “associate EU citizenship” to UK nationals was originally going to take place via an EU treaty change. However Mr Goerens has said this will take too long, and the proposals have now been fast-tracked to the negotiating table by Mr Verhofstadt. Under the new proposals, UK nationals could, for a fee, safeguard their EU rights, including to keep free movement to live and work across the EU, by acquiring associate EU citizenship. The proposals could also help to safeguard the rights and ease of UK nationals living and working across EU borders.
Whilst the European Parliament will have a significant voice in the Brexit negotiations once the UK triggers Article 50 in March 2017, it is the European Commission which will handle the Brexit details. In addition, each EU member state’s national parliament will have to vote on the final deal. Mr Verhofstadt told the European Parliament’s Committee that “It is an important amendment that has captured the imagination and hopes of many of the 48 per cent of Brits that have voted to remain in the EU”. Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder responded to the announcement as a “glimmer of hope for the millions of British people devastated by the referendum result” and said it shows there remains a large amount of goodwill towards Britain.