A court in the Netherlands has agreed to refer to the European Court of Justice, the case of five Britons who face losing their European citizenship rights due to the UK's vote to leave the EU.
Speaking from outside the court in Amsterdam, a spokesperson for Brexpats – Hear Our Voice, said:
“We are grateful to the court and obviously delighted with the decision. However, this is just the first step in clarifying what Brexit could mean for our EU citizenship.
“This case has always been about seeking clarification, not only for the 46,000 Brits living in the Netherlands, but also for all the 1.2 million Brits living in other EU countries.
“As has been demonstrated in recent days, what Brexit means is still extremely unclear. You cannot play with the lives of 1.2 million people as if they are pieces on a chessboard.”
Brexpat - Hear Our Voice, the Commercial Anglo Dutch Society and five British citizens living in the Nehterlands brought the case which is supported by Jolyon Maugham, the QC behind a series of legal challenges in Britain.
The ECJ will now be asked to answer the following two questions:
Will British nationals automatically lose their EU citizenship and all the rights that flow from that, including freedom of movement, if Britain leaves the EU?
QUESTION TWO (If answer to QUESTION ONE is "No")
What, if any, conditions or limitations should apply to the maintenance of those rights once Britain leaves the EU?
District Judge Floris Bakals agreed that the rights of minorities should not be prejudiced by a referendum under the law:
“The essence of a democratic constitutional state is that the rights and interests of minorities are protected as much as possible"
Speaking from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Roger Casale, founder and Secretary general of New Europeans said:
"We have always maintained that it is illegitimate to hold a referendum which has the effect of stripping citizens of their rights. The EU missed an opportunity to show its human rights credentials when it failed to guarantee the rights of UK citizens in Europe unilaterally. Now the EU may be required to give such guarantees by law. The moral and political case we have been making since 24 June 2016 is as resonant as ever and we are continuing to make it pending a positive outcome of the court case."
Brexit: UK nationals take European citizenship to ECJ, The Parliament Magazine, 8 Feb 2018
British group win change to take Brexit case to European court, The Guardian, 7 Feb 2018
British expats urge Dutch court to protect their rights after Brexit, France 24, 6 Feb. 2018