Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofshadt will put forward a motion that would allow British citizens to have ‘associate citizenship’ once the UK exits the EU. This means British people can ‘opt-in’ to retain their membership in the European Union.
Verhofstadt, who is also a previous Belgian Prime Minister, explained the proposal at a parliamentary committee meeting last Thursday, with plans to include it in negotiations when talks officially start in March, as Reuters reports.
A spokesperson for Verhofstadt said that the idea would have “captured the imagination and hopes” of those who wanted to remain in the EU. He added that he would “ensure that it is included in the parliament’s negotiating mandate”.
This plan, as the Independent reports, would give citizens the opportunity to keep free movement to live and work in the EU, and also vote in European Parliament elections. It would, however, possibly need approval by the UK government.
However, a senior official supposedly said the proposal was “a gimmick”, which “will never see the light of day”. Given Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, and her staunch stance for Brexit, there could be little wiggle room for ideas like this.
The associate citizenship proposal was first put forward by Charles Goerens from Luxembourg when attempting to amend another report on EU treaty reform. Goerens agreed to back out of the amendment when Verhofshadt said he would take it into Brexit negotiations.
Goerens’ idea was to make opt-in citizenship “for those who feel and wish to be part of the European project but are nationals of a former member state”.