Lord Roberts: The future of our European citizenship

Posted On: 
13th December 2016

Lib Dem peer Lord Roberts of Llandudno writes about his question in the House of Lords today on: 'Protection of EU citizenship status of UK citizens born after 1 January 1973'.

Credit: 
PA

I am Welsh, British and European. I consider myself a citizen of each of those places. Each one is not exclusive, each one is a part of who I am. I was born Welsh and British, a citizen of the UK. I was more than happy to acquire European citizenship when, in 1973, the UK joined the EEC.

Article 20 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that:

"Citizenship of the Union is hereby established. Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be additional to and not replace national citizenship."

Our citizenship as members of the EU, is totally dependent upon the United Kingdom remaining a member of the EU. Once that is lost we, also, are denied that citizenship. There is a move in the EU Parliament to make citizenship available on an individual basis. We apply, pay our fee, and are granted a form of EU citizenship. The problem is that there can be few advantages - how does one person enjoy EU laws on Climate change and his neighbour not? How does one member of the family enjoy freedom of travel whilst the rest are left standing at the airport?

Over half the UK’s population were born after the UK joined the Union in January 1973. They were born as citizens of the EU - a birth right. The rest of us, already born, acquired that citizenship. Now that status risks being torn away from us. That is why I am raising this with the Government today. There is much that is still unclear about the Government’s plans for Brexit but they should clarify the position of the millions of people born 1973 that have always been European.

In the June referendum over 18 million voted to Leave - nowhere near 50% of the United Kingdom's population of 65 or so million. So a minority are denying the rest of us our citizenship in the EU. I am Welsh, British and European and I would not deny it to any one of my UK colleagues, now the Government has to make clear whether they will make the same commitment.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno is a Liberal Democrat peer