In 1992 the Maastricht Treaty gave all citizens of
EU member states parallel citizenship of the European Union. Most eurosceptics went ballistic, denouncing it as an infringement of their sovereign right to be British or Danish. Indeed, many even renounced it, although only symbolically, as it isn’t possible to do so legally.
Why not? Why not let eurosceptics legally renounce their EU citizenship and instead receive a non-EU national passport or identity card? After all, this is a free union, and why should someone have EU citizenship forced upon them against their will?
Of course, in renouncing their EU citizenship, they would also be renouncing the rights that come with it. The right to travel and live and work and study in the EU, and indeed the relative ease of travel throughout the EU. And of course their right under the EHIC to emergency health care when in another EU state. And their right to work without work permits.
Let us give them the right to queue in airports with Bangladeshis and Cameroonians as opposed to using the EU passport channel.
Eurosceptics are very quick to say that this European project has no legitimacy with the people of Europe. Let’s see. Yes, maybe hundreds of thousands will renounce those rights and send back their burgundy passports. Maybe even a few million.
But I suspect that millions more, given the chance, will decide to keep their passports with European Union on the front, and the rights that come with it, and that means something.