EU lawmaker stands over ‘associate citizenship’ plan

LONDON: An MEP behind proposals to charge Britons for so-called associate EU citizenship after Brexit told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday the plan would offer a satisfactory solution to U.K. citizens wanting to live and work in Europe.

My proposed amendmentcould be seen as a solution satisfying all U.K. citizens who wish to maintain a close relationship with the EU, whether they live in or outside the U.K. territory, Charles Goerens said.

The Luxembourgish MEP said his office had received more than 1,200 individual emails telling very personal stories about the feelings of people and their families since the Brexit referendum in June.

"I am deeply convinced that we should not ignore the concern felt by many of those who continue to identify themselves with the European values and wish to be part of the European project even after their country has ceased to be a member of the European Union," Goerens added.

"In fact, the numerous reactions and the support that I got so far from U.K. citizens living in the U.K. and abroad, confirm that I was right to table this amendment."

Goerens' proposal last week received mixed reactions.

Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian prime minister and president of the European Parliament's Alliance of Liberals and Democrats is the biggest supporter of the proposal.

Last week, Verhofstadt said he would fight for the rights of the 48 percent of British voters who chose to remain in the EU.

However, some pro-Brexit members of the British parliament have come out against associate citizenship.

Andrew Bridgen, a lawmaker from the Conservative Party, defined it as an attempt to create two classes of British citizen and a trick to stop the U.K. from leaving the EU.

However, Sinan Ulgen, president of the Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM) -- an Istanbul-based think tank -- said the proposal was not realistic as EU members will ensure the U.K. experiences a hard Brexit.

Ulgen told Anadolu Agency: There is a will for not providing an exit package to Britain which could encourage other countries to leave the union too.

Therefore, there is a stance to make exit conditions harder for Britain. That's why I do not find it very realistic to give an almost pleasant gift to Brits before the characteristics of the negotiation are definite.

The Brexit decision came as a result of a June 23 referendum when 52 percent of eligible voters said they no longer wanted to be part of the 28-member block.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has said her country would trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the formal mechanism for exiting the EU, by the end of March 2017.

However, the U.K's Supreme Court later decided that a final parliamentary vote is needed to practice full sovereignty over the Brexit deal which will be finalized through negotiations with the EU.

The Supreme Court is due to hear an appeal on Dec. 7, with a ruling to follow in the first weeks of 2017.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Goerens said: As a member of the European Parliament, I could not simply fail to comply with my political convictions and I felt it as my duty to become active when one of the greatest achievements of the European Union, namely the freedom of movement, is at stake.

Source: Anadolu Agency