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5th Jul 2020

Dutch request to clarify Brexit Britons' rights annulled

  • Pro-EU citizens demonstrating against Brexit in London, March 2017. (Photo: sgoldswo)

The Amsterdam court of appeal ruled on Tuesday (19 June) that the Court of Justice of the EU will not be asked to clarify the post-Brexit rights of UK citizens in the Netherlands after all, in a ruling which may have repercussions for the 1.2m Britons estimated to live in the EU.

It follows the ruling by a lower judge in the Dutch capital, last February.

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That judge had ruled in favour of five Britons living in the Netherlands worried about losing their EU citizenship as a consequence of the UK's exit from the EU.

The judge, Floris Bakels, was planning to ask the Luxembourg-based EU court to ask if the UK's withdrawal automatically leads to Britons' loss of EU citizenship, and if not, whether there should be any conditions or limits applied to the preservation of rights and obligations.

However, Bakels held off on sending his questions to Luxembourg, because the Dutch state and the city of Amsterdam appealed his decision.

On Tuesday, the higher court agreed with the Netherlands and Amsterdam.

The court of appeals said that the plaintiffs' concerns had not been concrete enough.

"We are obviously disappointed with the court's decision," said one of the plaintiffs, Stephen Huyton, on the blog of his lawyer.

"This case has always been about seeking clarification. Not only for the 46,000 Brits living in the Netherlands, but also for the 1.2 million Brits living in other EU countries. Given today's judgment much uncertainty remains," he said.

"The claimants are currently carefully examining the judgment in order to determine next steps," said their lawyer, Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm.

"These may include an appeal to the Dutch Supreme Court within three months or initiating a proceeding on the merits," he noted.

The future of UK citizens' rights is subject to UK-EU negotiations on the exit agreement.

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