Citizenship is a fundamental right that identifies an individual’s belonging and identity within a nation. In recent years, it has become a matter of utmost importance in the contemporary context of the European Union due to the phenomenon of migration and the tightening of national borders, tested by the dynamics of globalisation and people mobility. For these reasons, the right to citizenship stands at a crossroads between national sovereignty and European solidarity.
The ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union on the Danish case
The recent decision C-689/21 by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on Danish citizenship legislation raised some key questions and offered insights not only on the actual meaning of citizenship, but also on its legal and moral implications.
Far from being a mere set of legal privileges and duties, the right to citizenship also represents a deep link between the individual and the state, thus carrying a meaning of belonging and identity. However, we must consider how in the European context the citizenship of a member State also confers the status of EU citizen: citizenship issues take on a transnational dimension by influencing access to status and rights throughout the EU. Loss of citizenship, therefore, is not an isolated event that only affects an individual’s national status, but has repercussions extending far beyond national borders, affecting his or her position and rights within the entire European Union.
The Danish case of loss of citizenship
The case ruled on by the CJEU concerns Denmark and its intention to make the retention of Danish nationality conditional on the existence of an actual link with the country. However, while recognising that each member State may legislate autonomously on citizenship, the CJEU affirms that any ruling in this regard must not result in the individual losing their status as a citizen of the European Union.
Content of the CJEU ruling on Citizenship
In this context, the CJEU decided that citizenship of a member State must be linked to a number of principles, namely:
- National Connection
For citizens of a member State born abroad, the loss of citizenship can be justified by the absence of an actual connection to the national territory.
- Proportionality and Information
The decision to withdraw citizenship must be proportionate and the person concerned must be properly informed.
- EU Citizenship Status
However, the loss of citizenship of a Member State should not automatically result in the loss of EU citizen status.
- Individual Examination
The possibility of an individual examination of the consequences of the loss of citizenship must be guaranteed.
- Risk of Statelessness
National legislation governing access to or loss of nationality must not create cases of statelessness.
Conditions for the Non-Privation of European Citizenship:
- Existence of another Member State
The person may lose the nationality of one Member State, provided they possess the nationality of another Member State, in order to avoid the loss of EU citizenship status.
- Proportionality Examination
The possibility of having the proportionality of the loss of citizenship and Union citizenship status examined must be guaranteed.
- Information and Notice
The person concerned must be informed of the impending loss of citizenship and its implications, as well as the right to request an examination of the consequences.
- Retention or Retroactive Reacquisition
The option of retroactively retaining or regaining citizenship must be offered, through an application and review process.
- Prevention of Statelessness
Citizenship regulations and decisions must avoid scenarios in which an individual loses all citizenships, becoming stateless.
- The issue of citizenship and EU membership is intrinsically linked to the rights and privileges of European citizens.
- Citizenship decisions have to balance national policies with EU obligations and principles, especially those related to free movement and citizens’ rights.
- The issue of citizenship, especially in transnational contexts, requires careful consideration of legal, social and personal implications.
Get in touch with Damiani&Damiani Law Firm for any issue related to the acquisition of Italian Citizenship