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The Council of State of the Netherlands sends a preliminary ruling request to the CJEU

By David de Groot, GLOBALCIT collaborator

On 19 April, the Council of State sent a case for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union. It concerns the automatic loss of the Dutch nationality (thus including EU citizenship) if one is residing abroad for 10 years and has next to the Dutch nationality also another nationality (one is considering extending this period to 15 years due to the fact that the Dutch passport nowadays has an expiry period of 10 years instead of 5 years). This rule does not apply to residence abroad in another EU MS.   

The question referred is the following:

Must Artt. 20 and 21 TFEU, in the light of Art. 7 Charter, be interpreted, due to the absence of an individual assessment in light of the principle of proportionality with regard to the consequences of the loss of nationality for the situation of the person concerned from the point of view of Union law, precludes legislation, such as those at issue in this main proceedings, which determine that:

a.An adult who is also a national of a third country loses the nationality of his or her Member State and hence the citizenship of the Union, because he has his principal residence for a continuous period of ten years abroad and outside the European Union, while there are possibilities to stop this ten-year period?

b.Under certain circumstances, a minor loses the nationality of his Member State and, consequently, the citizenship of the Union, as a result of the loss of the nationality of the parent as mentioned under a.

Two of the applicants live in Switzerland and although they also have the Swiss nationality, taking away the EU citizenship would also have consequences for their derived rights concerning family reunification under the Bilateral Treaties. Art. 15(1)(c) RWN, like stated before, states that residence abroad in another EU MS does not apply to this rule, but does not extend this to the Bilateral Treaties with Switzerland. One might want to take this into consideration concerning any future relationship with the UK. 

 Other Member States with similar provisions are:

•Belgium 22(1)(5) and 22(3) (lapse, born abroad and lived abroad between the age of 18 and 28) 

•Cyprus 113(4) (withdrawal, person has naturalised and 7 years abroad)

•Denmark 8 (lapse, age 22 and never lived in Denmark or 7 years in Nordic countries)

•Finland 34 (lapse, age 22. Idem DK)

•France 23-6 (withdrawal)

•Ireland 19(1)(c) (withdrawal, person was naturalised in IE and 7 years abroad)

•Malta 14(2)(d) (withdrawal, idem. IE)

•Spain 24(3) (lapse, age 21, born and always resided abroad) 

•Sweden 14(1) and 17 (lapse, idem DK)

Read the Press release (in Dutch), the full case (in Dutch), and the case reference to the CJEU (in English).

For details of current and past citizenship law in the Netherlands check out our country profile pages.

See also: J. Shaw (ed.) (2011), ‘Has the European Court of Justice Challenged Member State Sovereignty in Nationality Law?’, EUI Working Papers RSCAS 2011/62, Florence.