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Member States have the power to remove citizenship acquired 'by deception'

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By Leo Gasteen

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has upheld member states' power to remove citizenship from a citizen of the Union, when that person has obtained that nationality by deception.

The ruling follows a request from the Bundesverwaltungsgericht (German federal administrative court) to review the case of an Austrian national Janko Rottman, in Case C-135/08 Janko Rottmann v Freistaat Bayern

After having acquired German nationality via naturalisation, Mr Rottman failed to indicate to the German authorities that he was subject to a judicial investigation in Austria. As a result the German Court withdrew Mr Rottman's naturalisation, on grounds that his German nationality was obtained by deception. 

In accordance with Austrian law, the naturalisation in Germany had the effect of causing him to lose his Austrian nationality. This action left Mr. Rottman in the situation of non citizen of the European Union. 

The ECJ ruled that the resulting situation of Mr Rottman is only acceptable  on condition that the principle of proportionality is observed prior to the withdrawal.  

European Courts of Justice - Justice and Application - Full text


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