European Union Citizenship

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:44 pm on 7th March 2018.

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Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 4:44 pm, 7th March 2018

The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting suggestion. I said that we listened carefully to the debate, and of course we always listen carefully to decisions of this House. In response to the calls from my colleagues in this House and the other place, and from Members of the European Parliament, to argue for the continuation of EU citizenship for UK nationals, let me say that, as my right hon. Friend the Minister for Immigration confirmed earlier, we will always be very happy to listen to any proposals on our exit from the European Union. However, as EU treaty provisions state that only citizens of EU member states are able to hold EU citizenship, when the UK ceases to be a member of the European Union, UK nationals will no longer hold EU citizenship, unless of course they hold dual nationality from another EU member state. It is important that we respect the EU’s legal order, and of course our own, when EU treaties and EU law no longer apply to the UK.

I wish to take this opportunity to respond on the doctrine of acquired rights, which I know the House of Lords EU Committee looked into, expressing some concern about the validity of acquired rights in this context. Article 70 of the Vienna convention was mentioned by a number of colleagues, including Ben Lake. To be clear, article 70 is a “default” rule, which does not apply where the parties to a treaty agree arrangements relating to a particular party’s withdrawal. The UK and the EU will agree these arrangements under the article 50 process, to be defined in the withdrawal agreement. The argument on acquired rights under article 70 does not, therefore, apply in the context of these negotiations.