British nationals living in the EU should be stripped of the benefits of EU citizenship now the UK has left the bloc, the European Court of Justice has been advised.
An Irish advocate general at the European court said on Thursday that British nationals “who enjoyed the benefits of union citizenship do not retain those advantages following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU”.
The Luxembourg-based court is expected to issue a formal ruling on Brits’ rights in June, after a case was brought on behalf of retired civil servant Alice Bouillez, who lives in France. She is one of around 1.3m Brits living in the EU.
Bouiliez said the decision was “disappointing”.
“There is still a chance that this advice will be modified or even reversed, but it is upsetting. The opinion does seem quite cut and dried.”
Bouilliez had brought a case to the court on the grounds of losing her voting rights in local and European elections, arguing that EU citizenship should not be withdrawn due to the implications it would have on people’s rights.
The UK’s exit deal with the EU did not guarantee several key rights that Brits enjoyed while it was a member of the bloc, including voting rights and the ability to stand in local and European elections.
Julien Fouchet, a French lawyer representing Bouilliez, said he was “very disappointed” with the announcement but stressed that a quarter of cases in the court did not follow the opinions of its advocate general.
Our arguments were not heard,” Fouchet said
“The advocate considers nationality is the essential criterion, that residence does not count. He seems to think UK citizens can easily apply for dual nationality, but that is very far from always being the case.”