The German vice chancellor has called on certain EU countries (including Italy and France) to offer young British citizens who live or work in those countries the opportunity to apply for dual nationality. This follows the speculation and confusion after the UK referendum to leave the European Union. This would allow those British citizens a chance to remain EU citizens.
Some countries (EU and otherwise) permit dual nationality, sometimes under limited circumstances, while others do not. France allows naturalization without renouncing foreign citizenship, as does Italy. The UK, US and Germany, on the other hand, generally does not and only fairly recent created an exception that requires German citizens to apply for a waiver before naturalizing in another country.
Recent opinion polls showed that more than 70 percent of UK young citizens voted to remain in the EU and there is increasing concern from UK citizens about their long-term status in other EU countries. Many fear the UK’s exit from the EU will remove the existing free movement of people, or make this ability limited with excessively burdensome and restrictive procedures. Therefore, it is likely that many Britons will want to explore this alternative and hold on to the opportunity to live and work in the other 27 countries that form the EU.
Residents of Germany can apply for citizenship after eights years on the condition that they pass a German language skills test and a naturalization assessment (among other things). Further, German law requires non-EU citizens to give up their existing nationality when applying for German citizenship. However, the German ministry has suggested that it would like to allow British individuals to hold on to their UK citizenship even if they apply for naturalization after the UK subsequently leaves the EU.
For all of the positive aspects of dual nationality giving the right to live and work in an EU country, it is worth pointing out that there are obligations that may accompany taking on another country’s citizenship. Some EU countries have mandatory military service that would probably be more likely to impact the “young” Brits. And while tangential to the topic of dual citizenship, it should be noted that many EU countries have exit taxes on unrealized capital gains that might be imposed if an individual changes their residence for tax purposes or moves taxable assets from one country to another.
For now, while leaders negotiate the exit strategy, the UK remains part of the EU and British citizens still have full rights to work or study in other EU countries. Only time will tell whether they will continue to have this opportunity in the post-Brexit world.