No. 70: EU Citizenship: assessing its future in post-Brexit United Kingdom


  • Polyvios Chrysostomou
Publish Date:
October 7, 2022
Publication Title:
European Union [EU] Law Working Papers
Stanford Law School
Working Paper
  • Polyvios Chrysostomou, EU Citizenship: assessing its future in post-Brexit United Kingdom, EU Law Working Papers No. 70, Stanford-Vienna Transatlantic Technology Law Forum (2022).
Related Organization(s):


The aim of this thesis is to present a legal analysis of the concept of EU citizenship, specifically in the context of Brexit. The outcome of the Brexit referendum on the continuous membership of the United Kingdom in the EU, and thus, the first-ever invocation of Article 50 TEU, has been of seismic significance, as it has produced considerable uncertainty for the citizenship rights of both EU citizens and UK nationals. As the acquis of EU citizenship will cease to apply in Great Britain, meaning that UK nationals will experience a significant loss and erosion of the rights associated with the status, academics and politicians have proposed several ideas in an attempt to secure an easier path to citizenship and the preservation, of at least, most of
citizenship rights for Britons, especially those still residing in the Union; and those who had determinedly voted for Britain to remain in the EU. At the root of such conundrum are the classical concepts of EU citizenship law, especially the contingency of EU citizenship on Member State nationalities. The majority of the reactions underpinning the preservation of EU citizenship question the fundamentality of the status, as that has been stipulated in landmark CJEU case law and call for the reconstruction of EU citizenship as an autonomous status, whilst also arguing that the EU ought to prevent the en masse strip of the status for a whole Member State polity, whereas failure to do so would indicate the loss of the normative purchase of the status. It seems that the maximal interpretation of the CJEU in the momentous case regarding the telos of Union citizenship, has informed the academic opinion that the era may not only have substantiated Article 20 TFEU, but that it has even also contributed to a transformation of the status of Union citizenship in the abstract. However, as it will be illustrated in this work, such theories are incomplete and unjustifiable, based on erroneous interpretations of the status. This work argues that should the Court opt to do so, it would clearly infringe the highly sought after and reclaimed sovereignty of the United Kingdom. This work will also consider the ideas regarding the preservation of EU citizenship rights, through the introduction of an ‘associate EU citizenship’, which is also to be dismissed on several grounds. Not only are they violating the letter and spirit of EU law, the implementation of which is impractical, but also the Union’s core values, particularly the promise to respect the constitutional traditions of the Member States, the values of democracy, and the rule of law. Furthermore, it will also be concluded that associate rights acquired by means of payment of an imposed fee, may also undermine the coherence of the edifice of Union constitutionalism, eventually leading to the creation of a second-class EU citizenry which would be denied the central right of political representation in the indirect channels of the EU, but they would also exacerbate the British social divisions as they currently stand, which will collectively transform the status of EU citizenship into a meagre commodity.