UK nationals cannot automatically retain rights as EU citizens after Brexit as they were hoping, the EU’s top court confirmed on Thursday ruling on the appeal brought by British citizens living in the UK and in several EU member states.
Arguing it had deprived them of rights that they had acquired and exercised as citizens of the EU, plaintiffs were challenging the January 2020 Brexit withdrawal agreement demanding the court annul or partly annul the decision by the EU to approve it.
The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice has upheld in its decision a previous General Court ruling that the loss of the citizenship status in the EU and consequently the rights attached to that status, is an automatic consequence of the Council’s decision or the withdrawal agreement but of the sole sovereign decision taken by the UK to withdraw from the bloc.
ECJ’s decision effectively confirms that people from third countries or former member states can only acquire EU citizenship by becoming a citizen of a member country in the bloc.
At the latest EU-UK committee meeting on citizens’ rights, British ministers claimed that UK nationals who have not applied for permanent residence are facing difficulty in accessing benefits and services.