Citoyens

I don’t know if we have a lot of crossover readers from Tapped, but in the context of otherwise mostly reasonable remarks in two posts about the London bombings, they missed something important.

Writes Garance Franke-Ruta:

“Reading Sarah Wildman’s post on ‘the difficulty European Muslims have had in being considered “European,” and the unease that white Europeans have with those they consider foreign,’ reminds me, sadly, of just how intractable a problem the European definition of nationhood is. And it is really a problem to define nationality by bloodlines, rather than by birth, and at the same time have national policies that lead to substantial and rapidly growing immigrant populations. It is a very big problem, because it creates an entire second-tier caste of national residents who are non-citizens, and unable to become citizens, rather than integrating new immigrants into social and cultural life and assimilating them within a generation or three…” (Emphasis added.)

She goes on to cite Germany as one of the countries with a particular problem.

And Sarah Wildman’s post also mentions the German case in the context of larger questions:

“the largely unemployed, undereducated, masses of Muslims — les jeunes de banlieues — living in the suburban ghettos that ring major French cities, who may in fact have been born in Europe but exist in a peculiar citizenship limbo. (France, for example, like Germany, does not automatically grant citizenship to those born on her soil.)”

The issues surrounding the integration of Muslim immigrants are important ones. But the question of citizenship as posed here isn’t true for Germany, and it hasn’t been true since before George W. Bush became president of the United States. And getting that fact wrong undermines a major part of the posts’ argument.

Since 1 January 2000, children born to non-German parents who have been legal residents of the country for at least eight years are automatically entitled to German citizenship. Clearly this is not as generous as the American approach, but it is a significant step. (Australia, for example, appears in 1986 to have moved away from granting citizenship to everyone born there.)

Further, the conditions for acquiring German citizenship were also eased, and over the last five years, approximately 800,000 people (equal to two-thirds of the population of metro Munich) have taken on German citizenship. Children born in Germany to these new citizens are automatically citizens as well. This provision has made 200,000 children into citizens over the same period.

I wrote to the authors, but who knows if they even read the e-mail, since Tapped almost never posts corrections. So I mention it here. I’m also curious about citizenship in other European countries. Have there been recent changes?

6 thoughts on “Citoyens

  1. Spain hasn’t changed, and seems to be a more or less hybrid system. Birth does not, as in the UK or the US give citizenship. Children born in Spain to parents with residence rights do not automatically themselves have residence rights. These need to be applied for specifically. They are not normally denied, but there can be long delays. At the same time people with longstanding residence can apply for Spanish nationality (this is obviously attracting notoriety in the case of famous footballers) and again there are not special problems with this other than bureaucratic paperwork. Curiously Spanish nationals outside Spain *are* still subject to Spanish law, regardless of the legal position in the country where they live or go about their business.

  2. ?the largely unemployed, undereducated, masses of Muslims — les jeunes de banlieues — living in the suburban ghettos that ring major French cities, who may in fact have been born in Europe but exist in a peculiar citizenship limbo. (France, for example, like Germany, does not automatically grant citizenship to those born on her soil.)?

    That is incorrect, if you are born in France or any of it’s overseas departments you are a french citizen.

  3. I had always thought that two, but French law isn’t my area of expertise. Can you give any chapter and verse, Don Q? I’ll pass it along to the authors at Tapped.

  4. Well I found this link Doug. The relevant piece of legislation seems to be the French immigration Act 1998, which gave children the right to choose at the age of majority.

    Now there is an important proviso:

    “This event is subject to the children residing in France for longer than five years and this five year period only begins after the age of eleven.”

    So what our Cervantes lover says isn’t quite true. This is not automatic and it is not at birth. My impression is that what we have are a lot of hybrid systems in a gradual transition from blood to earth.

    BTW the kind lady from Ecuador who looks after my Altzheimer-riddled mother in law, and sometimes makes me lunch, calls me Don Eduardo these days, so, from one Don to another, “hi”.

  5. IIRC, Until 1993 citizenship was automatical for children born in France.

    In this moment, from:

    http://www.ambafrance-us.org/atoz/immigration.asp

    “Acquiring French nationality

    The rules on nationality are set out in the basic order of 19 October 1945 (amended in 1973, 1984, 1993 and 1998). They are based on the jus soli (droit du sol) ? people are French because of their place of birth and residence (France) even if their parents are foreign ? and on the jus sanguinis (droit du sang [blood right]) ? people are French whatever their place of birth and residence provided that their parents are French.

    The three main ways in which French nationality can be gained are:

    # naturalization, i.e. the granting of nationality to people who have reached their majority (18 years) and have lived in France for at least five years;
    # acquisition, in the case of 18-year-old children of foreigners born in France and resident there for at least five years between the ages of 11 and 18 (under Article 44). Although between 1993 (Act of 22 July) and 1998 (Act of 16 March) applicants had to “manifest a desire” to become French in order to enjoy this right, this is no longer required.
    # declaration, following marriage to a French man or woman (the marriage must have lasted at least one year). ”

    DSW

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