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
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
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