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With the number of UK citizens seeking citizenship in other EU member states having spiked following Brexit, EU citizenship is now seen by many in Britain as insurance from what could happen after the country leaves the European Union, Daniel Tetlow, a representative of the British in Europe association, told Sputnik.
Ireland tops the list of EU countries whose citizenship is now being sought after by UK nationals, followed by Spain, Germany, Sweden and France.
“The number of applications going to the Republic of Ireland between 2015 and 2016 was 43,724. It’s a very large increase and I think it would be safe to say that this is a direct result of the Brexit referendum,” Tetlow said.
When asked what in particular makes so many UK nationals want to “jump ship,” he said these people just want to play it safe by gaining dual citizenship, which they see as insurance against whatever might happen depending on the outcome of the ongoing Brexit talks between London and Brussels.
“There are no consistent rules on dual citizenship across Europe because you are not allowed to have dual citizenship and have to forfeit your British passport to gain the citizenship of Spain or Lithuania,” Tetlow noted.
He also mentioned the big differences in most EU countries between having a visa and having citizenship.
“There are big voting differences, tax differences, and again, it depends on the particular country,” he said.
Daniel Tetlow spoke about the present uneasiness surrounding the existing rules that allow UK citizens to work in Europe and EU nationals to work in the UK remaining in effect after Brexit. Despite assurances from British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, many in the country continue to be concerned about the issue.
“That’s why Brits in Europe and EU citizens in the UK feel particularly uneasy at the moment, and this causes these applications to rise because people believe that this will give them certain insurance when Brexit happens,” Tetlow observed.
With the issue of citizens’ rights remaining a big stumbling block during the ongoing Brexit negotiations, Daniel Tetlow said that the coalition of British citizens in Europe is currently very disappointed about the current standoff between London and Brussels.
“There was clear agreement before the negotiations began that they wouldn’t move into trade and entail citizenship, and financial issues. These issues have not yet been sorted out yet and this has led to a stalemate situation between the two negotiating sides which could arguably leave British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK in a difficult situation if no compromise is reached,” he concluded.
According to a Guardian analysis published earlier this week, at least 17,000 Britons sought the citizenship of another EU member state in the year after the Brexit vote, with almost 9,000 Britons having already applied for Irish citizenship.
More than 2,000 Britons living in France have applied for French citizenship since January and over 1,700 UK residents have sought German citizenship over the same period.
Almost 2,000 Britons applied for Swedish citizenship since the Brexit referendum and the number of British applications for Danish citizenship has more than doubled this year to 604.
Britons have also made 593 Italian citizenship applications in the 12 months following the EU referendum
In late March, the United Kingdom officially launched the EU withdrawal process.
The Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels, which started on June 19, are expected to conclude by the end of March 2019.