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Parliamentary questions
22 June 2018
E-002232/2018
Answer given by President Juncker on behalf of the Commission

The European Council (Article 50) Guidelines of December 2017(1) called for ‘all commitments undertaken during the first phase [to be] respected in full and translated faithfully into legal terms as quickly as possible’.

The draft Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland published as part of the draft Withdrawal Agreement on 19 March 2018(2), mentions Union citizenship rights in the preamble: ‘recognising that Irish citizens in Northern Ireland, by virtue of their Union citizenship, will continue to enjoy, exercise and have access to rights, opportunities and benefits’.

Following the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, Irish citizens in Northern Ireland will no longer reside in a Member State. They will nevertheless continue to enjoy their rights as Union citizens under the Treaties. However, Irish citizens in Northern Ireland will no longer benefit from United Kingdom’s participation in Union programmes, policies and activities when this participation ends following the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the Union.

Eligibility to vote and stand as candidates in elections to the European Parliament is determined by Irish law, which requires Irish citizens to be ordinarily resident in Ireland.

The dedicated mechanisms the Honourable Member refers to are mentioned in Article 1 of the draft Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and are intended to give effect to the United Kingdom's commitment of no diminution of rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity pursuant to the Good Friday Agreement as a result of the United Kingdom's withdrawal. The scope of these mechanisms is part of the discussions between the European Union and the United Kingdom in the context of the withdrawal negotiations.

Given that the ‘no diminution’ commitment undertaken by the United Kingdom in Article 1 relates to obligations from the Good Friday Agreement in respect of the people of Northern Ireland, it should apply to both Irish and British nationals in Northern Ireland.

(1)http://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/32236/15-euco-art50-guidelines-en.pdf
(2)https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/draft_agreement_coloured.pdf

Last updated: 26 June 2018Legal notice