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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

Belgians start to see correlation between naturalisation and integration

MPG’s recent research on naturalisation policies and outcomes has been prominently used in the 2013 Annual Migration Report of Belgium’s new Federal Centre for the analysis of migration flows, the protection of fundamental rights of foreigners and the fight against human trafficking. Citing the MIPEX and MPG’s recent project with EUDO-Citizenship (known as ACIT), the report tries to analyse the impact of the 2012 Nationality restriction on the integration of immigrants. The report endorses the use of the ACIT indicators to evaluate the impact of the new law and cites Huddleston and Vink’s ACIT paper showing the strong positive correlation between integration and naturalisation policies across Europe. The report summarises MIPEX assessment of the 2000 legal liberalisation leading to a ‘simple, short, and free’ procedure, the discretionary nature of the Parliament’s Naturalisation Committee, and the the prospective impact assessment of the 2012 restriction on the MIPEX blog.

Drawing on MPG’s analysis, the Centre recommends that public authorities create the conditions for foreigners to still be able and interested to become citizens. The Centre also calls for the new naturalisation law and procedures to be regularly evaluated based on their impact on integration: Will there be a major decrease in the number of naturalisations? Does being a foreign rather than Belgian citizen make it harder for immigrants to integrate on the labour market and in other areas of public life?

MPG’s joint ACIT project presented at 20th birthday party of Hungary’s citizenship law

The Hungarian researchers involved in the Access to Citizenship and its Impact on Immigrant Integration (ACIT) project and roundtable hold a Birthday Party to celebrate the 20th Birthday of Hungary’s Citizenship Law.

The event included 120 participants from the academic and practitioner world. The results of the MPG joint ACIT project were widely distributed through the project’s Handbook for Hungary, available in English and in Hungarian.

In the last 20 years, more than 200,000 immigrants have been naturalised in Hungary. Since 2010, with the amendments to the Citizenship Act, another 400,000 people have become Hungarian citizens – most of them without leaving their place of residence abroad. What concepts of state and nation are reflected in the citizenship law, and in the process of naturalisation? Who are the new Hungarian citizens and what strata of the Hungarian society are they integrating into? What is the role of acquiring hungarian citizenship among ethnic Hungarian communities across the borders, and among immigrants in Hungary? Among others, these are the questions for which the conference organised by the Institute for Minority Studies of the Centre for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences sought to answer.

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

MPG partner digs deeper into discriminatory effects of Spanish naturalisation laws

Migrants' Telephone Call Centre, Roquetas de Mar, Almería, January 2004. Credits: John Perivolaris | flickr

Migrants’ Telephone Call Centre, Roquetas de Mar, Almería, January 2004. Credits: John Perivolaris | flickr

Building on the ACIT (http://eudo-citizenship.eu/about/acit) project, MPG’s Spanish partner CIDOB (link) will conduct focus groups and in-depth interviews to analyse the discriminatory effect of Spain’s different naturalisation procedures for immigrants coming from countries with historical ties to Spain (largely Spanish-speaking countries) and for immigrants coming from the rest of the world. The different legal procedures and the administrative difficulties for immigrants from the rest of the world were analysed in the ACIT project, leading to a Handbook for Spain available in English and in Spanish. Also the Spanish results of the Immigrant Citizens Survey (www.immigrantsurvey.org) launched in Spain by CIDOB, suggest that immigrants from the rest of the world are less likely to naturalise (http://www.immigrantsurvey.org/downloads/Immigrant%20citizens%20survey%20-%20Questionnaire%20-%20Online%20Version.pdf), even after 20 years’ residence in Spain, and twice as likely to report administrative problems during the naturalisation procedure

Read more…

Administrative change in Italian citizenship law

The internal office of the Italian Ministry of the Interior has announced that it is working on an administrative reform that opens the provisions of ius soli to the Italian-born children of beneficiaries of international protection. This would give them equivalent rights to the children of stateless people as per Law 91 of 1992 which says that “Italian citizenship is bestowed to the child born in the Italian national territory when his/her parents are unknown, stateless or they do not transmit their citizenship to the child in accordance with their nationality’s legislation” (Italian Consulate). This means that children born in Italy to refugees who have been granted asylum could become Italian citizens once this change is put into place.

l'italia sono anch'ioAlthough the numbers that will be affected by this change seem to be minimal (there is mention of about 200 cases), these provisions are a favourable model for extending ius soli to all other legally resident children born in the country, as exists in most other EU15 countries. As the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) explains, young people born and raised in Italy can only declare themselves Italian after the age of 18 presuming they are legally registered and have uninterrupted residence. This means that they face inevitable administrative problems. Knowing no other country but Italy as their own, Italian-born students are removed from classes according to new 30% non-citizens’ quota. Their residence is easily interrupted by spending too long with family abroad.

Further information on access to citizenship and the modes of acquisition of citizenship in Italy are highlighted on the EUDO Citizenship website and the Handbook for Italy which were developed as part of the Access to Citizenship and its impact on integration (ACIT) project.

CITI-sOne of MPG’s interested partners on citizenship campaigns, Rete G2, welcomes this new interpretation of the Italian citizenship law by the Ministry of Interior and makes a strong call to the Chamber of Deputies to implement, by the end of 2014, a comprehensive reform of the citizenship law by recognizing the right to citizenship of those born in Italy to foreign parents or who have migrated to Italy as a child. In May 2014, the Commission on Constitutional Affairs at the Chamber of Deputies resumed the debate on the reform of the citizenship law. G2 have been campaigning for a change in this law for quite some time through its Italia Sono Anch’io campaign. This is one example that MPG is using to develop a common model for citizenship and voter mobilisation campaigns across Europe. Having consulted European and US practitioners on the issues of naturalization, political mobilization and electoral participation, MPG is developing a best practice model that can be used and adapted by practitioners across Europe as they develop their own campaigns. The objective is to:

  • facilitate campaigns that directly support immigrants in becoming citizens, assist with voter registration and increase election turnouts;
  • address the lack of comprehensive approaches to citizenship acquisition on a national level;
  • lay the foundations for future campaigns on a national level;
  • raise awareness about immigrant disenfranchisement as a major democratic deficit in Europe;
  • in the long run, increase the political participation of immigrant citizens


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