An EU travel ban has been impossed on the Assad family. However, as one British official has made clear, “under the EU visa regime, the overall travel ban does not stop the holder of a passport of an EU country from continuing to travel to that country. She can still enter the UK. There’s nothing legal we can do about it without good reason.” That would seem clear enough and an if there was any confusion as to whether Bashar-al-Assad’s wife, British-born Asma-al-Assad, could legally be banned from the UK after Europe’s foreign ministers added her to a EU list of undesirables, it has surely been cleared up by the British Foreign Minister, William Hague, who said, “British passport holders do obviously have a right of entry to the United Kingdom”, before continuing, “we are not expecting Mrs Assad to try to travel to the United Kingdom at the moment.”
She is a British citizen and she can enter Britain but, apparently she cannot travel to the rest of the union. Well, my understanding of it is that British citizens are also E.U. citizens and that the first right of a European citizen is the right to travel, work and live anywhere in the Union and, as far as I know ‘The Treaty of Maastricht’ has this enshrined this right in its chapter on citizenship. Now, don’t get me wrong this is not about me agreeing as to whether sanctions should be imposed on the Assads, even if it would be nice if they were also imposed on Bahrain’s al-Khalifa, this is about European citizenship, which some of us do take seriously, and what appears to be at least an indication of the British government taking it not too seriously when it is opportune to do so. Of course, it is hardly expected that either Hague, or anyone else in Whitehall, has any understanding of E:U. rights, except, of course, when it comes to them looking to gain political capital by evoking those rights.