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Citizenship News

EUDO CITIZENSHIP offers a selection of media reports and news summaries on significant legislative changes, court decisions, policy developments, political campaigns or other events concerning citizenship in Europe and beyond.

We welcome suggestions for news items by our users. Proposals including the full text or internet link should be sent to EUDO.Citizenship@eui.eu. The EUDO CITIZENSHIP team will selectively publish news based on their significance and information content. We will not publish items whose content appears to be biased or otherwise problematic.

We will publish news in any European language if an English summary of the content is available.

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ECtHR rules that the UK can strip terrorism suspects of citizenship

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that the UK’s policy of stripping terrorism suspects of their British citizenship and barring them from returning to the country is lawful. The case concerned a claim of a Sudan-born man who became a UK citizen in 2000. He maintained that citizenship deprivation violated his right to a private and family life. The ECtHR dismissed his claim. 

Read more here, and the decision of the court here.

For details of current and past citizenship legislation check out our country profile pages.

Record number of Dutch voters from abroad

A record number of Dutch citizens residing abroad have registered to vote in the upcoming general elections of 15 March. According to national registration data, around 77.500 persons have registered to vote. 

In the general elections of 2012, less than 50.000 persons registered to vote from abroad. Recently a number of measures have been taken to facilitate voting from abroad. For example, voters abroad can have their ballot sent by email (though voting itself is by regular mail). Voters abroad can also vote at embassies or consulates abroad or receive a mobile voting pass to vote at any polling station in the Netherlands.

Currently voters abroad need to register separately for each election, but it is foreseen that voters in the future will have to register only once.

Read more here (in Dutch), and also see the EUDO CITIZENSHIP Conditions for Electoral Rights 2015 database and the Country Report on Access to Electoral Rights: The Netherlands.

For details of current and past electoral legislation in the Netherlands, check out our country profile pages.

Moderate liberalization of citizenship law approved in Swiss referendum

By Samuel D. Schmid, GLOBALCIT Collaborator 

Non-citizens whose grandparents immigrated to Switzerland – so-called “3rd generation foreigners” – can soon naturalise more easily.

60.4 percent of Swiss voters approved the new constitutional provision in a mandatory referendum. Polls indicated that the public tended towards yes. But since new constitutional provisions can only be adopted when a majority of cantons approves as well, and since earlier reform proposals were rejected because the cantonal majority was not reached, it was unsure until the end whether the reform would stand a chance. That 17 out of 23 cantons voted yes today thus came as quite a surprise.

The far right Swiss People’s Party was the only major party opposing the reform. With yet another contested poster campaign, they warned about “uncontrolled mass naturalizations”, depicting a woman in a Niqab. Besides a broad coalition of major parties, the youth movement “Operation Libero” successfully countered the far-right campaign, arguing that “3rd generation foreigners” are as Swiss as any Swiss citizen.

Commentators stressed that it was probably only because the reform was so moderate that it was adopted so clearly.

To qualify for a “facilitated naturalisation”, 3rd generation foreigners must fulfill numerous additional conditions. They need a minimum of 5 years of Swiss schooling, and they need to provide proof that at least one grandparent was legally resident in Switzerland. In addition, at least one parent must have a permanent residence permit as well as a minimum of 10 years of residence and 5 years of Swiss schooling. Finally, the naturalisation application has to be filed before turning 25 years old – a provision that is meant to make sure that male candidates cannot evade mandatory military service.

Furthermore, the reform is only relevant for about 25’000 people. Most of them have their distant roots in Italy and other European countries.

The new provision will come to force next year, together with a new citizenship law making naturalisation more restrictive for 1st generation immigrants. Among other things, the new requirements demand that an applicant must not be reliant on social welfare.

Naturalisations in Switzerland are further regulated and decided upon by municipalities. However, the new provisions are part of the national legal framework.

Read more here (in German) and here (in English).

For details of current and past citizenship legislation in Switzerland, please check out our country profile pages.

5,411 persons reported renouncing American citizenship in 2016

According to the US Treasury department, a total of 5,411 people renounced their American citizenship in 2016, including the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. This is a record number of nationality renunciations in the US, and is 26% higher than the next highest annual total that followed the enacting of a disclosure law in the 1990s.

Check out the overview of US citizenship renunciation statistics here, and details of Johnson’s case here.

For details of present and past citizenship legislation in the US, check out our country profile pages.

Finland to re-evaluate its dual citizenship policy

The President of Finland Sauli Niinistö proposed that the country reconsidered its dual citizenship policy introduced in 2003. The President maintains that the situation has changed since the introduction of the policy, originally aimed at integrating the Finns returning from Sweden. As an argument for moving towards a restrictive citizenship policy, Niinistö cited practices of other countries, such as Russia and Germany, which allow dual nationality only in exceptional circumstances.

The Finnish Ministry of Defence is drafting legislation pursuant to which only Finnish citizens could be employed in this institution, and exceptions would be granted only when necessary. The Ministry cited security concerns as the reason behind the policy.

The country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry stated that while dual nationality does not represent a problem for employment, in some cases, hiring a third country national might represent a risk. 

Read more on President Niinistö’s proposal, the press release of the Ministry of Defence, and the press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For details of current and past citizenship legislation in Finland check out our country profile pages.