Speaking on the eve of the EU spring summit, the European parliament's chief negotiator has said that British citizens should be allowed to hold on to the benefits of being in the EU.
One of these benefits is the freedom of movement in the union, something Brits should be able to opt-in for if they individually choose.
“All British citizens today have also EU citizenship. That means a number of things: the possibility to participate in the European elections, the freedom of travel without problem inside the union,” Guy Verhofstadt said.
“We need to have an arrangement in which this arrangement can continue for those citizens who on an individual basis are requesting it.”
He added, however, that the European parliament would continue to ensure countries inside the bloc were better off that those outside it.
Verhofstadt tabled the idea of “associate citizenship” in late December, describing the proposal as “very important” for the many British people who wished to retain their rights as EU citizens.
“It is an important amendment that has captured the imagination and hopes of many of the 48 per cent of Brits that have voted to remain in the EU. You will all have received many emails about this and there have been many articles about this,” he said at the time.
An “associate citizenship” would potentially allow Brits to hold on to their freedom of movement across the Union and therefore live and work wherever in the EU they choose.
They would also be allowed to vote in European elections.
That could potentially save Brits in the EU the hassle of either having to apply for a long term residency permit – or applying for nationality in the country where they live.