Dutch MPs want citizens’ rights separated if no-deal Brexit
Dutch lawmakers have voted in favour of a motion to petition Brussels to ringfence the rights of British and European Union citizens in case of a no-deal Brexit, a parliamentary official said Wednesday.
“The motion was accepted with a majority of 97 votes,” in the 150-seat Lower House late Tuesday, Dutch parliamentary spokesman Leon van Schie told AFP.
The motion tabled by progressive D66 lawmaker Kees Verhoeven and the Christian Democrats’ Pieter Omtzigt aims to lobby the European Union to separate the issue of rights of British and EU citizens in case of a hard Brexit, deadlined for April 12.
Currently British expatriates’ rights are being dealt with on a country-by-country basis within the EU, including by the Netherlands, the lawmakers said.
At the same time, EU citizens’ rights will be “at the mercy of the British authorities in case of a no-deal Brexit,” they added in their motion.
As the spectre of a disorderly departure from the EU grew, the lawmakers said “we are of the opinion that the part that protects citizens’ civil rights should be separated from the Brexit accord.”
This is despite the fact that the “Dutch government is taking serious steps to guarantee Britons’ residence rights in the Netherlands,” the motion said.
A “no deal” risked huge disruption on both sides of the Channel, affecting everything from flights, to trade and causing uncertainty to millions of expatriates.
The current non-deal contingency plan for British citizens in the EU “amounted to little more than calling on EU member states to be generous,” said The3million, a group that fights for the rights of foreign nationals in Britain.
It hoped the Dutch decision “will be a catalyst for the European Council to declare support in turn,” it told the Dutch expatriate news site Dutchnews.nl.
“I prefer a European solution to a country-by-country solution,” CDA lawmaker Omtzigt told AFP.
“So yes, I would expect (Prime Minister Mark) Rutte to bring this up on April 10, if a hard Brexit is then on the cards,” he said.
The Dutch government has been praised for its handling of British expatriates living in the country after it said it would give them a 15-month grace period to apply to stay after a no-deal exit.
But Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said in January that approximately 45,000 Britons and their relatives living in the Netherlands would no longer be able to claim residency as EU citizens if there was a no-deal Brexit.