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Access to citizenship and its impact on immigrant integration


Access to citizenship and its impact on immigrant integration (ACIT) was financed by European Fund for the Integration of Third-country Nationals (administered by DG Home Affairs). The main goals of the research project were to explore the links between acquisition of nationality and the integration processes and to encourage effective measures for facilitating immigrants’ access to citizenship in the EU. In its 18-month programme, ACIT developed four sets of citizenship indicators on:

  • Citizenship laws
  • The implementation of citizenship laws
  • Rates of citizenship acquisition
  • The impact of rates of citizenship acquisition on integration
  • The research will take place in all 27 EU Member States and accession candidate and EEA countries (Croatia, Iceland, FYROM Macedonia, Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey)


ACIT has dedicated pages on our partner’s website, where you can download all reports and play with the data.

10 EU Member States (Austria, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom) were selected for in-depth case studies because of their large immigrant and foreign populations, diverse citizenship laws and high or low acquisition rates.

National stakeholder dialogues were organised by subcontracted NGO/think-tank partners in these 10 countries (in Vienna, Tallinn, Paris, Berlin, Budapest, Dublin, Rome, Lisbon, Barcelona, London).

ACIT collected and compareed available national and international evidence on how acquiring citizenship enhances immigrants’ participation in society and the democratic process. It analysed indicators to reveal the hidden links between citizenship and integration policies within EU competence, including anti-discrimination, family reunion and long-term residence.

ACIT made a first-ever impact assessment of citizenship law in each country and across Europe. The findings revealed the effects of recent reforms and compared the impact of legal rules with that of societal factors such as origin, residence duration, gender, age and social status. Research results were disseminated in 10 national handbooks, 4 comparative reports based on the indicators and a final European-level report.

ACIT also highlighted changes in citizenship laws and implementation that have improved integration in practice and it provided policy recommendations to reinforce EU indicators on active citizenship and to develop an EU module on “Citizenship and Integration.” Academic researchers, government and civil society can obtain data, comparative analyses and practical guidelines on how to evaluate policy outcomes, set targets and good governance standards, and assess the prospective impact of policy changes.

ACIT contributed to more effective policies and practices for integration and citizenship acquisition by creating authoritative, comprehensive and easy-to-use databases which will foster European information exchange and cooperation. The project was conducted in partnership with the European University Institute’s EU Democracy Observatory on Citizenship (EUDO) and was sponsored by the European Integration Fund.


Access to citizenship and its impact on immigrant integration WORK IN USE

French press refers to ACIT project in the context of ius soli debate

FR_natFollowing a proposal from the opposition party UMP, France is debating limitations to to its current ius soli-based nationality law. In this context, the French press is looking at how other European countries enable migrants to access nationality and cite findings from the Access to Citizenship and its Impact on Immigrant Integration (ACIT) project.

By the end of the year, the UMP will present a private bill for the end of automatic citizenship acquisition. If the bill is successful, children born in France from foreign parents will have to make a formal demand for obtaining French citizenship.

The ACIT Country Report for France concluded that:

1 On average, citizenship laws are more inclusive in France than in most EU-15 countries with the exception of demanding language and integration requirements for ordinary naturalisation.
2 Providing documentation required for ordinary naturalisation is a greater practical obstacle in France than in most other EU countries. Applicants have to obtain more documents from their country of origin, including on criminal record. They have to provide extensive proof of employment over several years and particular vulnerable groups are not exempt from criminal record or economic requirements.
3 The transparency of the requirements and ‘decentralisation’ were raised by stakeholders as the major citizenship issues in France today. Local authorities apply laws differently which leads to unequal treatment of applicants. Exemptions for the language requirements are often not transparent. Conditions for refusal are not always clear and internal guidelines are not public.

ACIT findings presented to EESC for its new opinion on access to citizenship

500px-EESC_logo.svgResults of the Access to Citizenship and its Impact on Immigrant Integration (ACIT) project, including the proposed European Standard on Access to Citizenship, have been presented to the European Economic and Social Committee for its new opinion on A more inclusive citizenship open to immigrants which was published on 17 October.

In its conclusions, the Committee states that “the right to Member State nationality and European citizenship must include all people of immigrant origin, who bring great national, ethnic, religious and cultural diversity“; calls member states to “adopt more flexible legislation and administrative procedures, in order to enable third-country nationals with long-term resident status  to acquire nationality” and urges them to “conclude agreements with immigrants’ countries of origin to enable them to hold dual nationality“.

Access to citizenship and its impact on immigrant integration WORK IN CONTEXT

Germany: Dual Citizenship is Non-negotiable

Germany_Turkey_by_Mohamed-YahyaNegotiations between Germany’s Christian Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party must be concluded by 26 November if they are to succeed in forming a coalition Government before Christmas.  The right to dual nationality is one of the Social Democrats non-negotiable demands and, with the Christian Democrats holding fast to the status quo, the working group assigned to immigration has so far been unable to find a compromise.  The current situation requires children born to non-EU nationals to choose between German citizenship and that of their parents upon turning 23 and non-EU immigrants who want to naturalise are required to give up their original nationality.

The German results of MPG’s joint ACIT project shows that Germany’s refusal to recognise dual citizenship is a deterrent to naturalisation for many national groups, in particular people of Turkish origin.  And the requirement for 23 year-olds to choose will inevitably result in children born in Germany losing their status as German citizens when it takes affect this year.  The Christian Democrat’s election slogan on this topic was “Yes to our country”, a statement which supposes negative integration results among holders of dual citizenship.

Yet, according to the ACIT project’s European Summary and Standards, hardly any evidence exists that dual citizenship is related to problems of integration in the country of residence.  On the contrary, dual citizenship facilitates naturalisation (and would prevent young Germans with a migrant background from losing their nationality) which, in turn, has a positive impact on economic, social and civic integration.

Promote integration through naturalisation or ius soli? Malta prefers to sell its citizenship

malta_passportThe Maltese media have frequently cited the Maltese results of MPG’s joint ACIT project to demonstrate the unchecked discretionary powers on citizenship of the island’s home affairs minister. The report, by citizenship expert Daniela DeBono, reveals the problems associated with this discretion in the implementation of the naturalisation procedure for immigrants on the island. Only 2,401 people have acquired citizenship through naturalisation in Malta since 1991. The Home Affairs minister even stated to parliament that not a single refugee or humanitarian migrant has been naturalised. MPG’s comparative indicators and report points to less discretionary procedures in similar countries, such as Greece and Portugal, which reformed and facilitated naturalisation for immigrants and their descendants. Interestingly, a relative majority of surveyed Maltese citizens would support an automatic rights-based citizenship for foreign children raised in the country. Instead the new IIP citizenship scheme augments the discretionary power of the home minister, who can now grant naturalisations for the price of 650,000€ to wealthy foreigners. So far, the EU institutions have responded that they have no competence to interfere with Member States’ policies on the granting of national (and, by extension, EU) citizenship.


Are you looking for past news and events related to the Access to citizenship and its impact on immigrant integration project?

News and events prior to 2012 are available in our archive.

In Partnership with:

  • University of Edinburgh
  • European Commission Home affairs
  • eudo
  • Maastricht University
  • ucd
  • European University Institute