(CN) - The European General Court on Monday rejected a challenge to Brexit by 13 British citizens who live in different member states around the EU.
Led by Harry Shindler, who lives in Porto d’Ascoli, Italy, the challengers have sought for over a year to annul the May 22, 2017, decision by the European Council that authorized the start of negotiations allowing the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union.
But an extended composition if the European General Court’s Ninth Chamber rejecting the bid as inadmissible Monday after finding that “the contested decision does not directly affect the legal situation of the applicants.”
Principally, the Luxembourg-based court took care to distinguish the 2017 decision by the EU Council from the 2016 referendum in which U.K. citizens supported the measure to withdraw from the European Union.
“The contested decision does not affect the rights of the applicants who, as the Council points out, have the same rights after the contested decision as before,” the opinion states.
Among other rights, the challengers pointed to “their status as EU citizens and their right to vote in European and municipal elections, their right to respect for their private and family life, their freedom to move, reside and work, their right to own property and their right to social security benefits,” according to the ruling.
But the court noted that “the contested decision merely constitutes a preparatory act for any final agreement, which would be subject to a subsequent decision of the council, acting by qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.”
“Annulment of the contested decision would thus have no impact on the legal situation of UK citizens, including those who, like the applicants, live in another EU Member State and did not have the right to vote in the referendum of 23 June 2016 and the UK general elections,” the opinion continues. “It would lead neither to annulment of the notification of intention to withdraw nor to suspension of the two-year time limit provided for by Article 50(3) TEU. The applicants’ rights would remain unchanged.
“Although it is true that the applicants’ legal situation, particularly as regards their status as EU citizens, is likely to be affected when the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU, whether or not an agreement is concluded, such potential effect on their rights — the nature and extent of which cannot, however, be known at this time — does not result from the contested decision, as the council correctly states.”