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Brexit - easier citizenship in some EU member states?

SOME DETAIL is emerging of the policies of individual EU member states on how UK nationals will be treated post-Brexit - including many of our members in Paris Branch, Brussels Branch, Netherlands Branch and elsewhere. (See also our update for members who are EU nationals in the UK.)

EU flag; Photo: Matt Salusbury

An EU flag in Park Lane at the start of the People's Vote March in London in October.

Unlike the UK, which will require EU nationals to actively apply for settled status to remain in the UK, none of the 27 member states have indicated they will require this of their UK-national residents. The process is likely to be automatic in many of these countries. Many EU member states are waiting for the final detail of the UK withdrawal deal - if there is one. Some member states, such as France, are talking about "reciprocal" arrangements based on how their own nationals on the UK are treated under the Settled Status regime.

France's Minister for Europe Nathalie Loiseau introduced a Bill in October that would trigger a series of decrees in the event of a no-deal Brexit, including measures to ensure that, "in the absence of an agreement, in the morning of 30 March British living in France do not brutally find themselves in an irregular position," in Loiseau's words.

France is the only one of the remaining 27 EU member states without some form of population register that everyone is supposed to be signed up to, so some UK nationals - especially the self-employed - may have difficulty proving they meet the criteria for legal residence. (See our recent update on UK nationals facing uncertainty in France and elsewhere.)

The Netherlands has launched a consultation ahead of an expected Bill to go before its parliament that would allow "first generation" Dutch nationals who emigrate and naturalise outside the EU to keep their Dutch passports too. UK nationals - non-EU citizens after the UK formally leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 - will also be able to keep their Dutch passports if they naturalise as Dutch citizens under the proposed legislation. Their children will have to choose one nationality. The Bill isn't expected to come into law, though, until after 31 December 2020 - the (current) Brexit "transition" deadline.

Dutch court won't play

A case brought by a group of UK nationals in Amsterdam on their rights to freedom of movement post-Brexit has been rejected. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal declined to refer the case to the European Court of Justice. It accepted legal arguments that the case - in which one of the plaintiffs was a member of NUJ Netherlands Branch, - was "too vague" and "hypothetical". Meanwhile, the City of Amsterdam is reportedly lobbying the Dutch Government on relaxing residency rules for UK nationals.

German nationals who want to become British and UK nationals who want to become German had better get a move on. They will be able to keep two passports, but only if they naturalise before the end of the Brexit transition (31 December 2020). Current German law only allows Germans to be dual nationals if their other nationality is an EU member state - which the UK won't be after the above date. But the German cabinet in September approved "Brexit exception" in a Bill that - subject to a vote in the Bundestag - is expected to allow British nationals and Germans who apply for citizenship of the other country during the Brexit transition to keep both passports.

But UK nationals seeking to naturalise and settle in Italy face longer waits as a new immigration law comes before the nation's Parliament. It allows the authorities four years to process citizenship applications, rather than the current two. It would, if passed, apply to current applications for citizenship. Given how dysfunctional Italian bureaucracy can be, granting the State another two years to process such applications is not good news.

A good place to go for updates is the Europe Street News citizenship archive.