Tue. Jun 6th, 2023

Citizenship laws vary widely across Europe. Only a few European countries allow dual citizenship. Germany is debating a plan to reform the country’s dual citizenship.

How European countries regulate citizenship
How European countries regulate citizenship


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Two passports, fast-track naturalization, “golden visas” and dual or multiple citizenships are already part of everyday life in many European countries. Germany is following this trend by reforming its citizenship law. Only a few European countries do not allow dual citizenship. Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Estonia, Bulgaria, Spain, Norway, Latvia and Lithuania have very strict rules regarding exemptions.

Some European nations consider the possibility of additional citizenship as a business model. Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Malta and some other states offer “golden visas” and residency to some people in exchange for investing in real estate, starting a business or investing in a business.

Obstacles in the way of passports

The naturalization route is regulated very differently across Europe. Many European countries have revised their citizenship laws since the 2000s as a result of increased global migration and refugee movements, an increase in transnational marriages and widespread shortages of skilled workers.

Citizenship for children is determined by their ancestry and place of birth, but the rules are different for adult immigrants. Barriers to naturalization are relatively low in France, Great Britain, Portugal, Poland, Sweden, Finland and Belgium. If the immigrant is married to a European citizen, this period is reduced to three years. They may also retain their original citizenship after naturalization.

In Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovenia, immigrants must have legally and permanently resided in a country for at least 10 years to be eligible to apply for naturalization. The process takes eight years in Ireland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, and nine years in Denmark.

‘Activity of multiple citizenships’

If Germany reforms its citizenship legislation, the country will join the ranks of nations advocating low levels of naturalization. According to the Interior Ministry, if the new citizenship law is passed, it will “allow for multiple citizenships and make it easier to obtain German citizenship.”

Under the new law, German citizens living abroad who apply for another citizenship for personal or professional reasons no longer have to apply to renounce or retain their German citizenship. Turkish citizens who have acquired German citizenship will be able to reapply for a Turkish passport.

Onal Ziran, a lawyer and migration expert, says these reforms are overdue. “For me it is important to introduce multiple citizenships because of the principle of equal treatment,” he told DW, adding, “Many Turkish families who have lived in Germany for 40 years and Those who are working feel discriminated against because this option is already available to many people but not to them (Turks).”

In Germany, there are already different ways to acquire citizenship other than German citizenship. For example, EU citizens are allowed to keep their original citizenship. Children born to foreign parents in Germany no longer have to decide on nationality until the age of 22. Many foreigners who obtain German citizenship are able to keep their passports because their country of origin does not allow them to renounce citizenship, including many refugees.

According to the German Interior Ministry, Interior Minister Nancy Fesser’s draft reform of the German citizenship law is still at the internal review stage. It is not yet known when the final draft will go to the Bundestag, the German parliament, for a vote.

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