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Taking exercise

How much control do member states really have in decisions concerning citizenship, asks Paul Stanley QC

23 March 2010

The ECJ’s judgment in Case C-135/08 Rottmann (Grand Chamber, 2 March 2010) clarifies the powers of member states to make decisions about nationality. The difficulty in this area arises from the fact that the status of citizenship of the European Union is not independently defined, but depends on citizenship of a member state. Article 20 TFEU (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, formerly article 17 EC) provides that: “Every person holding the nationality of a member state shall be a citizen of the Union.” The decision to confer or withdraw nationality rests with each state. And the member states have made it clear that the creation of citizenship of the Union was not intended to detract from this power. Questions of nationality (and thereby of Union citizenship) should be settled, as it was put in a declaration annexed to the Treaty on European Union, “solely by reference to the national law of the member state concerned”. Rottman is the lates...

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