Rottmann (CJEU) C-135/08

Updated: Jan 8

(2010)

NATIONALITY: EXCLUSIVE COMPETENCE

EU-CITIZENSHIP


WHAT DOES THIS CASE MEAN FOR ME?

States are free to determine the rules applicable in granting their nationality. Normally the EU does not interfere in this area.


However, if you are a not a European citizen, who has received the nationality of a MS, let’s say Germany, and have lost your former nationality then it is possible that EU law interferes.

For example, if for whatever reason, Germany decides to retreat their nationality then you would become stateless. Stateless means that you will no longer have any nationality since you have already lost your original nationality, this is a very legally insecure position.


But it would also mean that you would lose European citizenship. European citizenship automatically accompanies the nationality of a MS but it is a separate identity. Therefore, the German decision can be reviewed by the Courts under EU law, this entails that the German measure must be at least necessary and proportionate. Overall, you will have a much greater protection to keep your nationality thanks to European law.


LEGAL ANALYSIS

An Austrian citizenn, Rottmann (Not EU) faces a fraud investigation and moves to Germany. Once arrived in Germany he applied for German nationality without mentioning the ongoing investigation in Austria, as one of the German conditions for nationality is the absence of investigations. Germany decides to grant him the German nationality losing the Austrian one.

After a while, German authorities uncover the investigation and issue a ministerial decision to take away German nationality. As he has already lost the Austrian one, it would make Rottmann stateless. Rottmann claims before the CJEU that the loss of German nationality would also strip him from his European citizenship.



CJEU:

→ Recognizes that the issue falls under EU law, and thus judicial review is possible (§48). Although Nationality is an exclusive competence of the MS, its exercise is limited as it cannot affect the exercise of European rights, like Eu-citizenship (§42).


→ NATIONALITY laws of MS need to have DUE REGARD TO PRINCIPLES OF EU LAW.


Ex. The general principle of proportionality: To what extent did Rottmann misrepresent this investigation, to what extent does he risk statelessness?


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