Court of Justice confirms loss of EU citizenship for British nationals

Claudia Delpero, Europe Street
Claudia Delpero, Europe Street - [email protected]
Court of Justice confirms loss of EU citizenship for British nationals
Court of Justice confirms loss of EU citizenship for UK nationals (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

The Court of Justice of the European Union on Thursday delivered the final word on the question of EU citizenship for British nationals post-Brexit.


In pronouncing the “definitive dismissal” of the three remaining legal cases, the Court of Justice confirmed previous rulings that Britons lost their rights as EU citizens when the country left the bloc.

The legal cases had been brought by UK nationals challenging the loss of EU citizenship rights as a result of Brexit.

The loss of status as EU citizens and all related rights, including free movement and electoral rights in EU member states, is “an automatic consequence of the sole sovereign decision taken by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union, and not of the withdrawal agreement or the Council’s decision approving that agreement,” EU judges said.

The Court had previously ruled on the matter and the claimants had appealed the decisions.

One of the cases concerned a British woman who had lost her electoral rights in France, her country of residence. She argued this was disproportionate and contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Another questioned the link between citizenship of an EU member state and EU citizenship, arguing the latter is a fundamental status that, once acquired, cannot be removed from the individual.

The third challenge was brought by the late British veteran Harry Shindler, who was living in Italy, against the EU-UK withdrawal agreement. The argument was that the deal automatically removed EU citizenship rights from British nationals without “test of proportionality”.

The Court of Justice rejected all the appeals saying that the British nationals cannot retain EU citizenship because of the UK decision to leave the bloc.


Introduced in 1992, EU citizenship is a unique transnational citizenship that grants rights across borders.

The withdrawal agreement signed when the UK left the European Union, in 2020, protects the residence and social security rights of British nationals who were living in the EU before Brexit. Free movement and electoral rights were excluded, as these are associated with EU citizenship.

The Court decision comes after years of legal battles and represents the final ruling on the matter.



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