The Liberal democratic party D66 has launched a plan which would make it easier for Dutch nationals in Britain and Brits in the Netherlands to have dual nationality after Brexit.
The Dutch currently only allow dual nationality in a few, specific circumstances, although an overhaul was promised in the coalition agreement. This means that currently most Dutch people in the UK would lose their Dutch passports if they become British, and the same for British nationals in the Netherlands.
Brexit is a unique situation which requires ‘unique measures’, MP Sjoerd Sjoerdsma said at the presentation of the plans. The change is necessary ‘for the future of our fellow nationals there and the British people here,’ he said.
‘This measure requires cooperation from left to right,’ he said. ‘Together we must ensure that the Dutch in the UK and Brits in the Netherlands are not the victims of Brexit chaos.’
The Labour party made a similar appeal during Thursday’s debate on Brexit but was slapped down by foreign affairs minister Stef Blok. Losing your original nationality if you become Dutch is ‘completely embedded’ in law and it would not be logical to make an exception for Brexit, Blok said.
The government has pledged to present plans to amend the current rules on dual nationality in the spring. DutchNews.nl has asked the justice ministry for an update on the plans.
Eelco Keij, who campaigns for the rights of Dutch expats abroad, said that he welcomed the D66 commitment to dual nationality.
‘Whether this proposal will backfire within the coalition or be the drive for opening up dual nationality for all Dutch citizens abroad, remains to be seen,’ he said. ‘I do know, however, that not doing anything seldom leads to desired outcomes.’
Insiders say it is unlikely that the D66 measure will win the support of the cabinet. Ministers are already divided over the issue of the amnesty for child refugees, which is due to be debated in parliament on Wednesday.
The number of British nationals taking Dutch nationality has soared since the Brexit referendum in 2016, reaching 1,253 in 2017.
Most of those becoming Dutch were either born in the Netherlands or are married to Dutch nationals, which allows them to keep their British nationality as well.
According to 2018 figures up to November obtained by DutchNews.nl, 169 British nationals became naturalised Dutch citizens, which involved giving up their British passports. Nevertheless, this is a still a stark contrast to 2015, when just 19 British nationals made such a move.
Some 86,000 people with British nationality currently live in the Netherlands, of whom 47,000 are first generation migrants, according to figures from the national statistics office CBS. The Dutch population in the UK numbers around 100,000.
DutchNews.nl has asked Sjoerd Sjoerdsma to comment.
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