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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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Germany: denial of naturalisation on grounds of ideological orientation

By EUDO CITIZENSHIP expert Anuscheh Farahat

A member of the German Left Party (Die Linke) has recently been denied naturalisation due to her membership in this left-wing party. Jannine Menger-Hamilton is Member of the regional parliament (Landtag) of Schleswig-Holstein functioning as spokesperson of the parliamentary group of her party. Mrs. Menger-Hamilton has been born in Germany; her mother is an Italian national, her father a British national.


ECJ judgment in the Rottmann case: member states can withdraw nationality acquired by fraud if the principle of proportionality is observed

The European Court of Justice issued its judgment in the case Janko Rottmann v Freistaat of Bayern Case C-135/08 on 2 March 2010.

The judgement confirms that a Member State of the European Union may withdraw its nationality, granted by way of naturalisation, from a citizen of the Union, when that person has obtained it by deception, even if as a consequence the person concerned loses his citizenship of the Union because he no longer possesses the nationality of any Member State. In such a case, however, the withdrawal decision must observe the principle of proportionality.

Dr. Janko Rottmann was born in Graz (Austria) as a national of Austria. In 1995 he took up residence in Munich after an investigation about suspected serious fraud had been initiated against him in Graz. In February 1997 the Landesgericht für Strafsachen Graz issued a national warrant for his arrest. Rottmann applied for German nationality in February 1998 and was naturalized a year later. During the naturalisation procedure he failed to mention the proceedings against him in Austria. His naturalisation in Germany had the effect, in accordance with Austrian law, of causing him to lose his Austrian nationality. In August 1999 the city of Munich was informed by the muncipal authorities of Graz that a warrant for Dr Rottmann’s arrest had been issued in Graz. After hearing the applicant the Freistaat Bayern withdrew the German naturalisation by decision of 4 July 2000 with retroactive effect, on the grounds that the applicant had obtained German nationality by deception. The withdrawal of his naturalisation obtained in Germany has not yet become definitive because it was appealed by Rottmann. The decision to withdraw Rottmann’s naturalisation was upheld by the Bayerischer Verwaltungsgerichtshof (administrative court of the Land of Bavaria) on 25 October 2005 even though it implied that Rottmann would become stateless. Rottmann appealed again to the German Bundesverwaltungsgerichtshof (Federal Administrative Court), which decided to refer the following questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling:


1) Is it contrary to Community law for Union citizenship (and the rights and fundamental freedoms attaching thereto) to be lost as the legal consequence of the fact that the withdrawal in one Member State (the Federal Republic of Germany), lawful as such under national (German) law, of a naturalisation acquired by intentional deception, has the effect of causing the person concerned to become stateless because, as in the case of the applicant [in the main proceedings], he does not recover the nationality of another Member State (the Republic of Austria) which he originally possessed, by reason of the applicable provisions of the law of that other Member State?


(2) [If so,] must the Member State … which has naturalised a citizen of the Union and now intends to withdraw the naturalisation obtained by deception, having due regard to Community law, refrain altogether or temporarily from withdrawing the naturalisation if or so long as that withdrawal would have the legal consequence of loss of citizenship of the Union (and of the associated rights and fundamental freedoms) …, or is the Member State … of the former nationality obliged, having due regard to Community law, to interpret and apply, or even adjust, its national law so as to avoid that legal consequence?’


The judgment issued by the ECJ on 2 March answers as follows: “It is not contrary to European Union law, in particular to Article 17 EC, for a Member State to withdraw from a citizen of the Union the nationality of that State acquired by naturalisation when that nationality was obtained by deception, on condition that the decision to withdraw observes the principle of proportionality.” The ECJ has decided not address the question whether Austria is obliged to restore Rottmann’s original citizenship as this question must first be decided by Austrian courts.


Read the press release on the decision of the ECJ.

Click here for the full text of the Court judgment.

Read the opinion of the Advocate General in French or German.


Malta: Most acquisitions of Maltese citizenship by naturalisation occur through ties of marriage or parentage

By EUDO CITIZENSHIP expert Eugene Buttigieg

Among those who acquire citizenship by naturalisation, only a minority do so without any ties of marriage or parentage, according to statistics by the Maltese Parliament.

According to an article by the local newspaper Malta Today on Sunday, “few people get citizenship in Malta unless they marry a Maltese or have a Maltese parent'. Over 2,000 of the 2,817 new Maltese citizens in the last four years became Maltese citizens either by marriage or from birth to a Maltese parent.

Statistics show that since 2004, over 1,000 men and women married foreigners, who after five years of marriage became Maltese citizens. Foreign wives who gained citizenship mainly hailed from Britain (157), Australia (83), and Russia (55). Husbands mainly were of British (107), Australian (78), but also Italian (56) and Libyan origin (49). 'The statistics presented in Parliament show that there is a significant gender imbalance in the acquisition of a Maltese citizenship. For example, just one of 16 Nigerians granted Maltese citizenship was a woman.


Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina sign agreement to prevent abuse of dual citizenship

By EUDO CITIZENSHIP/CITSEE expert Ljubica Spaskovska

On 10 February 2010 the Ministers of Justice of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina signed an agreement to prevent the abuse of dual citizenship in extradition processes of convicted criminals.

The decision, amending an agreement signed in 1996 on the mutual enforcement of final court rulings in criminal matters, will allow the arrest and extradition of people who have evaded justice as a result of holding dual citizenship. Convicts will no longer need to give consent to serve the sentence in the country to which they fled.

In a press release the Croatian Ministry of Justice said that this agreement will finally halt the practice of abuse of dual citizenship by convicts who, in possession of both Bosnian and Croatian passports, could escape justice when sentenced in one of these countries by fleeing to the other. They were also protected by each state’s prohibition of extraditing its own citizens.

“We need dual citizenships, they are useful for our citizens, but they must not be compromised by such examples of abuse,” said Croatian Minister of Justice Ivan Simonovic.

The media reported that so far an estimated 200 convicted individuals have been able to move freely between Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia, including among others also many war criminals. It has been announced that Bosnia will soon sign a similar agreement with Serbia.

Read more:

“Bosnia, Croatia Agree to Recognition of Verdicts” (in English)

“Balkan Extradition Treaties – Better Late Than Never” (in English)

http://www.pravosudje.hr/default.asp?ru=1&gl=201002100000001&sid=&jezik=1 (in Croatian)

http://www.vijeceministara.gov.ba/saopstenja/ministri/Default.aspx?id=9900 (in Bosnian)

Austria changes its Nationality Law

by EUDO CITIZENSHIP Expert Dilek Çinar

In October 2009, the Austrian Parliament approved a bill amending the Asylum Law, the Aliens’ Police Law, the Settlement Law as well as the Nationality Law. The new regulations have entered into force on January 1, 2010. The most significant changes are as follows:

• Requirement of sufficient income: Acquisition of Austrian nationality depends on proof of regular and sufficient income. In addition, applicants must not have received social welfare assistance for the last three years preceding the application for naturalisation. Since 2010, regular expenditures for rent, loan repayment, garnishment or alimony payment have to be taken into account when calculating an applicant’s income level. Thus, the amendment raises the level of disposable personal income necessary for naturalisation.