The European Democracy Lab e.V. is currently co-plaintiff in the lawsuit Case C-252/29 at the ECJ.
In this case the ECJ is asked whether European Citizenship is a permanent status, i.e. an individually granted right and inalienable (“Is European Citizenship of Permanent Status?).
As a result of Brexit – the withdrawal of the EU under Article 50, which was legally completed at the turn of 2021 after a transition period – British citizens have lost their status as European Citizens. This poses major problems for British citizens, or at least major administrative burdens and problems if they enter or work, have family or property in an EU member state. They are now “third country nationals” and no longer enjoy EU citizenship rights. Even EU citizens living in the UK now face a variety of bureaucratic problems as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU if they live, work, have family or property in the UK.
According to the Maastricht Treaty, the EU is both a union of states and a union of citizens. Both “unions” have equal rights. The status of European Citizenship was given in 1992 under the Maastricht Treaty to all citizens of an EU country who were then in the EU, including British citizens.
The question now before the ECJ is whether the UK, by withdrawing under Article 50, can or may “take away” (or de facto cancel) something that was granted directly to UK citizens by the EU in 1992? Or whether the status of a European citizen with all the fundamental and civil rights arising from this status is inalienable as an individually granted right – and would therefore endure beyond Brexit or independently of Brexit? The EU as a citizens’ union would then have a legal autonomy that would be independent of the EU as a union of states.
For the future design of European democracy, this would be a significant new legal issue.