Preliminary questions on Brexit and EU citizenship

Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm
07 feb 2018

Today, Mr Bakels has decided to ask preliminary questions to the Court of Justice of the EU in Luxembourg (“CJEU”). The honorable Judge, in short, asks the CJEU what the consequences of a Brexit would be for the EU citizenship and the accompanying rights. Will Brexit mean that EU citizenship is automatically reversed or will Brits retain these rights and, if so, under which circumstances? See also our blog (in Dutch) here. Parties are given the opportunity to respond to the draft questions within a week of today.


Stephen Huyton, one of the plaintiffs says: “We are obviously delighted with the court’s decision. However, this is but the first step to clarity about what Brexit means for our EU citizenship. This case has always been about seeking clarification. Not only for the 46.000 Brits living in the Netherlands, but also for the 1.2 million Brits living in other EU countries. As has been demonstrated in recent days what Brexit means is still the subject of much discussion. You cannot play with the lives of 1.2 million people as if they are pieces on a chess board.”


Mr Huyton, the European director of a US firm, has been living in the Netherlands for 24 years and has three children, with the youngest at university in the UK. Like other Brits who have been living outside the UK for more than 15 years, he was not eligible to vote in the EU referendum.


Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs comments: “Theresa May famously said, Brexit means Brexit, but the Brits currently living on the continent have no idea what that means for them. Are you an EU citizen for life or can your citizenship be taken away from you? That is the fundamental question that will be put forward to the European Court.”

Please read an unofficial translation of the ruling here.

For questions and further information, please contact Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm.

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