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Acquisition and loss of citizenship in EU Member States: Key trends and issues

Written by Maria Margarita Mentzelopoulou and Costica Dumbrava,

Passport control entrance area for EU and other passport holders at Prague Airport, Czech Republic.

© Uskarp / Shutterstock

Access to citizenship status is an important prerequisite for enjoying rights and privileges, such as migration and political rights, as well as for developing a sense of identity and belonging. Since the establishment of Union citizenship, all persons who are nationals or citizens of an EU Member State enjoy the status of EU citizenship, which confers on them a number of additional rights and privileges. However, Member States retain full control over who can be recognised as a citizen.

Although the legal rules on the acquisition and loss of citizenship in the EU Member States remain fairly divergent, one can identify a number of key trends and issues. The need to integrate long-term immigrants has pushed EU countries to amend their citizenship laws. This often resulted in making citizenship both more liberal (lowering residence requirements and tolerating dual citizenship) and more restrictive (introducing integration clauses and citizenship tests). The surge in terrorist activities in the EU, which involve citizens, prompted several Member States to revise or reactivate citizenship provisions allowing for citizenship to be revoked.

Concerns about immigrants’ integration, allegiance and belonging, as well as about the cultural and economic consequences of regional integration and globalisation are at the heart of recent debates about citizenship in Europe. As the Maltese case of investor citizenship shows, the issue of access to citizenship is no longer a matter that concerns Member States alone. The bundling of national and EU citizenship means that Member States have a certain responsibility towards each other when taking decisions over who to accept (or reject) as citizens.

Read this briefing on ‘Acquisition and loss of citizenship in EU Member States: Key trends and issues‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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