The impact of Union citizenship on national citizenship policies

Karolina Rostek, Gareth Davies


It is well known that EU citizenship is parasitic upon national citizenship. To become an EU citizen it is necessary to be a citizen of one of the Member States, and the states have exclusive competence to decide who their own citizens are. They therefore function as gatekeepers, and jealously guard this role. However, in practice national citizenship and nationality laws are influenced by EU membership. Firstly, this influence comes from other Member States, who recognise that the decision on citizenship taken by their neighbours have, as a result of rights of free movement and non-discrimination a direct impact upon themselves. Secondly, there is an influence from the EU institutions and EU legislation, for example by granting rights to long-term third country national residents. Since periods of residence are often a central criterion for gaining nationality, EU residence rights effectively amount to EU support for national citizenship for these residents. These points are made using the examples of Spain, Ireland and Germany, all of which have made changes to nationality laws, or exercised nationality decisions, in a way where the influences above can be demonstrated. The long-term residents directive is used to show the influence of the EU itself. These empirical findings are placed in the context of current debates on the nature of citizenship, and on methods of harmonisation, in particular the increasing use of soft and reflexive methods.


European identity, identity, nationality, Nation-state, European citizenship, harmonisation, mutual adjustment, competences, European law, immigration policy

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