The Court of Justice of the European Union rejected an appeal Thursday against a ruling by a lower court that claims by a group of Britons that the European Council had denied them their rights as EU Citizens were inadmissible. File photo by Julien Warnand/EPA-EFE
June 15 (UPI) -- The European Court of Justice threw out an appeal Thursday by a group of Britons hoping to retain their rights as citizens of the European Union post-Brexit.
The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled as inadmissible the plaintiff's case that the loss of their rights, including living and working in any of the bloc's 27 member countries, was due to the European Council's rubber stamping of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement in January 2020.
"The appellants claim that the decision at issue deprived them of the status of EU citizens and of the rights attaching to that status," the court said in a new release.
But judges in the EU's highest court upheld the decision of the lower General Court that their loss of rights was the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum in which a majority of Britons voted to leave the union.
The court said it examined the question of whether the plaintiffs had an interest in bringing proceedings but ruled that decisions by member states to withdraw from the EU were theirs alone to take, and therefore depended solely on "sovereign choice."
"The loss of the status of citizen of the European Union, and consequently the loss of the rights attached to that status, is an automatic consequence of the sole sovereign decision taken by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union, and not of the withdrawal agreement or the Council's decision approving that agreement," the CJEU said in its ruling.
"The Court concludes that the British citizens do not have an interest in bringing proceedings and that the General Court rightly rejected their actions as inadmissible."
Those who took the council to court arguing that EU citizenship is a permanent status that cannot be removed without their consent have been ordered to pay the European Council's legal costs.
The ruling likely signals the end of the road for the crowd-funded case by so-called "remainers" and Britons living in EU countries unhappy at being stripped of their right to vote or run for office and restricted to a maximum stay of no more than 90 days in every 180 days.
Three years after the deal and two-and-a-half years after Britain withdrew from all institutions and the single market following a 12-month grace period, the issue continues to reverberate in Britain with a majority of Britons now saying Brexit has been a failure, according to at least one poll.