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Whose Voice during Brexit? Civil Society Organisations and the Safeguarding of EU Citizenship and Free Movement in the UK

Citizenship
Civil Society
European Union
Activism
Nora Siklodi
Norwegian University of Science & Technology, Trondheim
Nora Siklodi
Norwegian University of Science & Technology, Trondheim

Abstract

Practicing EU citizenship has never been as challenging as it is today, especially in the context of Brexit – the United Kingdom’s (UK) withdrawal from the European Union (EU). Therefore, it has never been more timely to examine how (if at all) citizens defend their EU rights. This paper illustrates the workings of civil society actors in the context of Brexit. Specifically, it explores how citizens – including native UK citizens, British expats and EU residents – organise to safeguard their EU citizenship and free movement rights. The paper builds on original, semi-structured interview evidence with activists working for New Europeans – the first civil society organisation that was established solely to defend EU citizenship rights – and their partner citizen groups; non-participant observation from meetings run by New Europeans; and discourse analysis of publications by New Europeans. Discourse analysis and participant observation data will depict emerging organisational structures and working practices - illustrating how civil society organisations have been affected by and responded to Brexit, and the likely contours of their workings in a post-Brexit context more broadly. Semi-structured interviews with activists will reveal their perceptions and motives to safeguard EU citizenship and free movement rights against Brexit effects.