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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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GLOBALCIT at the State of the Union, 4-5 May 2017

The GLOBALCIT team took part at the State of the Union conference, organised by the European University Institute (EUI). The State of the Union is an annual event for high-level reflection on the European Union (EU), and this year’s event revolved around the theme of European Citizenship, a multi-faceted topic of acute relevance across all EU member states.

On 4 May, two GLOBALCIT co-directors (Rainer Bauböck  and Maarten Vink) and co-ordinator (Jelena Dzankic) discussed the changing nature of the notion of genuine links and the instrumentalisation of passports. The panel examinedwhether states and individuals regard citizenship as a mere tool rather than as a value in itself: the proliferation of multiple nationalities; citizenship programmes for non-resident investors; worldwide access to EU passports for those with the ‘right ancestry’; and stripping terrorist suspects of their citizenship in order to ‘dump’ them on other countries. In doing so, the speakers explored whether citizenship is bound to decline in the 21st century.

On 5 May, Rainer Bauböck gave the State of the Union Address entitled “Still United in Diversity?”. In his speech, Bauböck  reflected on the balance between rights and duties of European citizenship, and noted that ‘[m]aintaining unity in spite of such deep diversity cannot be achieved through a citizenship that has so little weight that it can be easily carried across borders, but that has so little substance that those who stay put do not feel it”. He added that “[i]n order to keep an internally differentiated Union united, European citizenship needs to be enriched with a social dimension and substantive duties.”

Furthermore, Jo Shaw (GLOBALCIT co-director) spoke in the afternoon panel on 5 May. In the panel entitled “EU Citizens' Rights: a Priority for the Negotiations with the UK”, Shaw highlighted the importance of rights in the cases of state disintegrations. She emphasised that, if the process of the UK’s exit from the European Union is not adequately managed, it could lead to the greatest deprivation of individual rights after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

 

The video of the panel “Genuine Links and Useful Passports: A Decline of Citizenship?”, 4 May 2017, is available here.

The video of Rainer Bauböck’s State of the Union Address ‘Still United in Diversity?’, 5 May 2017, is available here, and the text version here.

The video of the “EU Citizens' Rights: a Priority for the Negotiations with the UK” panel and Jo Shaw’s contribution is available here.

Australia plans to amend its citizenship law

The government of Australia is planning to amend its citizenship law and introduce additional requirements for naturalisation. The proposed amendments would require applicants to be permanent residents in Australia for four years and to pass a new English language test.

Read the Australian government’s discussion paper and an analysis in the Guardian.

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

 

The Council of State of the Netherlands sends a preliminary ruling request to the CJEU

By David de Groot, GLOBALCIT collaborator

On 19 April, the Council of State sent a case for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union. It concerns the automatic loss of the Dutch nationality (thus including EU citizenship) if one is residing abroad for 10 years and has next to the Dutch nationality also another nationality (one is considering extending this period to 15 years due to the fact that the Dutch passport nowadays has an expiry period of 10 years instead of 5 years). This rule does not apply to residence abroad in another EU MS.   

The question referred is the following:

Must Artt. 20 and 21 TFEU, in the light of Art. 7 Charter, be interpreted, due to the absence of an individual assessment in light of the principle of proportionality with regard to the consequences of the loss of nationality for the situation of the person concerned from the point of view of Union law, precludes legislation, such as those at issue in this main proceedings, which determine that:

a.An adult who is also a national of a third country loses the nationality of his or her Member State and hence the citizenship of the Union, because he has his principal residence for a continuous period of ten years abroad and outside the European Union, while there are possibilities to stop this ten-year period?

b.Under certain circumstances, a minor loses the nationality of his Member State and, consequently, the citizenship of the Union, as a result of the loss of the nationality of the parent as mentioned under a.

Two of the applicants live in Switzerland and although they also have the Swiss nationality, taking away the EU citizenship would also have consequences for their derived rights concerning family reunification under the Bilateral Treaties. Art. 15(1)(c) RWN, like stated before, states that residence abroad in another EU MS does not apply to this rule, but does not extend this to the Bilateral Treaties with Switzerland. One might want to take this into consideration concerning any future relationship with the UK. 

 Other Member States with similar provisions are:

•Belgium 22(1)(5) and 22(3) (lapse, born abroad and lived abroad between the age of 18 and 28) 

•Cyprus 113(4) (withdrawal, person has naturalised and 7 years abroad)

•Denmark 8 (lapse, age 22 and never lived in Denmark or 7 years in Nordic countries)

•Finland 34 (lapse, age 22. Idem DK)

•France 23-6 (withdrawal)

•Ireland 19(1)(c) (withdrawal, person was naturalised in IE and 7 years abroad)

•Malta 14(2)(d) (withdrawal, idem. IE)

•Spain 24(3) (lapse, age 21, born and always resided abroad) 

•Sweden 14(1) and 17 (lapse, idem DK)

Read the Press release (in Dutch) and the full case (in Dutch).

For details of current and past citizenship law in the Netherlands check out our country profile pages.

See also: J. Shaw (ed.) (2011), ‘Has the European Court of Justice Challenged Member State Sovereignty in Nationality Law?’, EUI Working Papers RSCAS 2011/62, Florence. 

 

New Luxembourg Nationality Law came into force on 1 April

By Denis Scuto (GLOBALCIT expert, Luxembourg Center for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg)

After the Luxembourg nationality law of 23 October 2008 (from now on called LNL), which introduced double ius soli and the toleration of dual or multiple citizenship, the vote of a new nationality law by parliament on 9th February 2017 appears to be a further milestone  in the history of Luxembourgish citizenship. 

It has been voted at the end of a reform process of the 2008 LNL that started in 2012 [1] under the former government (composed of CSV, Christian Social Party and LSAP, Socialist Party) and Minister of Justice François Biltgen (CSV) and continued and was completed now by the new government (composed of DP - Democratic Liberal Party, LSAP and Green Party) and Minister of Justice Felix Braz (Green Party). The coalition programme of the new government in December 2013 promised a facilitation of ways to acquire Luxembourgish citizenship. 

Born in Luxembourg from Portuguese parents who immigrated to Luxembourg in the 1960s, Felix Braz was very active in the political field of citizenship legislation since his election as a Member of Parliament in 2004. During the final debate about LNL in parliament, Felix Braz stated on 15 October 2008: “This law (…) no doubt opens some doors, but this law doesn’t open arms to welcome people. When shall we do that?” As a minister, he stuck to his commitment to openness and managed to convince even opposition parties like the right-wing CSV and left wing Déi Lénk (The Left) to further liberalise the LNL. Only the right-wing populist party ADR did not join this coalition. Their three MPs voted against the law in February 2017, whereas the other 57 MPs voted in favour.

What are the main changes? 

1. The law of 8 March 2017 (from now on called the New Luxembourg Nationality Law, NLNL) [2], that came into force on 1 April, introduces conditional ius soli at the age of majority. Persons born in Luxembourg to foreign nationals obtain Luxembourgish nationality when they turn 18 on the condition that 1) they are resident in Luxembourg for at least five consecutive years before their 18th birthday, and 2) one of their parents who is non-Luxembourgish has lived in Luxembourg for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the child's birth (art. 6). The LNL of 23 October 2008 already had introduced double ius soli: Children born to foreign national parents automatically receive Luxembourgish nationality at birth if one parent was also born in Luxembourg. 

2. The compulsory residence period before naturalisation has been lowered from seven to five years (art. 14). A new flexibility has been introduced as only the last year of residence prior to the application has to be without interruption.

3. Taking into account the critiques addressed to the LNL of 2008, NLNL reintroduces optional rights for the spouse and for children born in Luxembourg of foreign parents who are not born in Luxembourg. (These rights had been abolished by LNL of 2008.) Under NLNL spouses can opt for citizenship under the condition that they have passed the compulsory Luxembourgish language test and have attended the course “Living together in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg” or have passed the test of this course (Art. 25). Children born in Luxembourg to parents who are not Luxembourgish can apply for nationality from the age of 12 on the condition that 1) the child has lived in Luxembourg for the five preceding years and 2) one of the parents lived in Luxembourg for a minimum of one year prior to the child's birth (art. 26). Adult foreign nationals who have completed seven years of schooling in Luxembourg (public education curricula) can also opt for citizenship (art. 27). Foreigners who in live in Luxembourg since at least twenty years and have attended a Luxembourgish language course of 24 hours enjoy the option right too (art. 28). In harmony with the proposal of the European Convention on Nationality, signed by Luxembourg on 26 May 2008, to facilitate acquisition of citizenship for certain categories of persons, NLNL introduces also the possibility of option for stateless persons and refugees (art. 31) [3].

4. Another important issue touched by the NLNL is the question of the oral evaluation test in the Luxembourgish language. Proposals made by NGOs, labour unions and economic stakeholders to replace the language test with a certificate confirming attendance at Luxembourgish language courses or to lower the levels of competence required in the language evaluation test in Luxembourgish or to introduce dispensation clauses were only partly integrated into the NLNL. Applicants must still pass a language test at level A2 in oral expression and B1 in comprehension (art. 15). The level of competence has thus not be lowered despite promises in the governmental program. However, passing the oral expression part (A2) is sufficient to pass the whole language test. Moreover, an insufficient score in oral expression (A2) can be compensated  with a higher score in comprehension (B1). Whereas a dispensation clause for elderly applicants has not been introduced, a period of residence of 20 years provides  them with the possibility, as already mentioned, to opt for citizenship without passing a language test after merely attending a 24-hours-course.

5. Applicants will be refused Luxembourgish citizenship if they have been sentenced for a criminal offence or received a custodial sentence of one year or more or – and this is a new measure –  a suspended sentence of two years or more (art. 14).

6. Another change deserves to be highlighted, even if it is more symbolic. NLNL has removed the notion ‘Luxembourgers by origin’ which gave the impression that there are two kinds of Luxembourgers, those having the nationality over several generations and those who acquired it more recently (art. 7).

7. Finally, NLNL will put an end to the problem of double standards raised by the ‘re-ethnicising’ art. 29 of LNL of 2008. Compensating for double ius soli, a new ground for re-acquisition based on ius sanguinis was introduced by LNL of 2008: A person can re-acquire Luxembourgish citizenship provided he or she has a male or female ancestor who possessed Luxembourgish citizenship on 1 January 1900. Thus, persons with distant blood ties alone can acquire citizenship without passing language tests and, as most of them live abroad, without any residence clause. They can even vote in national elections while foreigners living in Luxembourg for many years cannot. According to NLNL, no more application for this re-acquisition can be made after 31 December 2018 and the declaration of re-acquisition must be made before a civil registrar by 31 December 2020 at the latest (art. 89).

The NLNL can thus be considered as a further major and necessary step in liberalising citizenship legislation in a country where nearly 47 per cent of the resident population do not have Luxembourgish citizenship.

 

Notes:

[1] See herefore the updated Luxembourg country report: http://eudo-citizenship.eu/admin/?p=file&appl=countryProfiles&f=Luxembourg.pdf

[2] http://legilux.public.lu/eli/etat/leg/loi/2017/03/08/a289/jo

[3] For all the conditions to acquire Luxembourgish by option : http://www.guichet.public.lu/entreprises/en/ressources-humaines/recrutement/nationalite/option/index.html

 

 

Campaign for ‘Votes for Life’ ahead of the UK general election

The UK-based civil rights organisation New Europeans has started a campaign to pass the ‘Votes for Life’ legislation before the next General Election. The legislation would enable the UK citizens resident abroad for over 15 years to vote in the general election. At present, citizens who have lived outside the UK for over 15 years are disenfranchised. Previously, the UK government had announced that it will amend electoral rules to ensure lifelong voting rights for the country’s citizens.

Read more here and check out our country profile pages for details of past and present electoral legislation in the UK.

For a comparison of inclusion in the electoral franchise in Europe and the Americas, check out our Conditions for Electoral Rights 2015 database and our ELECLAW indicators.