The principle of recognition as the cornerstone of European neighbourhood policies: waiting for Godot? Who is you, human being?

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by Daniela Cardoso, Collaborating Member of CEDU
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Due to the widely-acknowledged vulnerabilities that characterise the current European neighbourhood policies and external relations, the European Union has sought to encourage a renewed political dialogue. To a large extent, these new efforts are grounded on the need to face the current humanitarian and social crisis involving migrants and refugees and encountering two leading actors: Germany and Turkey.

The underlying issue is border management in order to polish and consolidate a more realistic answer to different needs. On one hand, attention must be drawn to the internal organisation of countries endowed with the geo-political profile, as the one that can be pointed out to Turkey, and their inabilities to handle the massive incoming of refugees in a solitary confinement. On the other hand, one is confronted with another issue concerning identities in transit. Giving the uncountable number of identities crossing geographical, social and cultural borders, is there any moral obligation on the part of the States to open their borders? At the core of what can be regarded as the management of political borders we encounter two chess pieces. The first thrives on cooperation and stability, sustaining that borders do have a peculiar moral meaning with its own sense of justice at the “local” level, regardless of shared views with political communities on distributive justice. The second one insists on a more plural argument placing the moral significance both in geopolitics and on people, which would be shyly seen in the possible accession of Turkey to the European Union – a topic which was recently re-placed on the table.

In short, there is one map with different languages: the tonic placed on the enlargement of the European Union and the emphasis on shared global governance.

Continue reading “The principle of recognition as the cornerstone of European neighbourhood policies: waiting for Godot? Who is you, human being?”

Editorial of January 2016

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by Mariana Canotilho, Editor
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‘The inclusion of the other and the fall of the Empire’

The word of the year 2015 was ‘refugee’. It is quite amazing how seven letters can actually encompass the sea of problems the European Union is facing, which will almost certainly be prevalent throughout 2016.

Aylan Kurdi died at our doorstep in the beginning of September. Before him, thousands of other migrants had already drowned in the Mediterranean, but it took the powerful image of a dead child lying on the sand for the Europeans to address the problem. Hundreds of volunteers mobilized to help their fellow humans, who ran away from war and misery. But although individuals acted, according to their possibilities, the EU institutions seem helpless, almost paralyzed. The Union struggled to reach an agreement about the reception and support to the refugees; some Member states refused the proposed quotas’ system. Hungary’s parliament voted to deploy troops to repel refugees from its border, deepening divisions with the rest of the EU. The common mechanisms negotiated have proven almost useless until now. Very few refugees have been resettled. 2016 began with yet another picture of a dead child, while trying to reach safety and peace, and with the alert from the former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres: the EU has failed, and only traffickers are managing the migrants’ influx.

There is a growing and worrying incapacity, within the Union, to “include the other”, to use a classical expression of J. Habermas. In fact, the refugees’ crisis is only the worst, more serious symptom, of a larger problem: the loss of the European social project, the abandonment of an idea of Europe as an inclusive and plural community of equals. With this phenomenon comes the loss of hope in the Union’s institutions, trapped between the unwillingness of some and the incapacity of others to find reasonable political solutions to people’s problems.

Under this scenario, citizens are turning to other, quite unsettling, options. Extreme right-wing parties are gaining followers and votes all over Europe (France, Hungary and Poland are good examples of this), without a decisive institutional reaction from the EU, even in common matters, and in a striking contrast with the way the Greek crisis was handled.

Nationalism and separatism are rising. No later than 2017, the UK will hold an in-out referendum about the Union. An “out” vote will have unpredictable consequences and may be the end of the European project as we knew it: the “fall of the Empire”. Therefore, the biggest challenge for the time to come is to reinvent the EU. To build European politics based on hope and on values such as solidarity, diversity and rule of law, rather than fear and exclusion. Only Europe can save itself. Will it succeed?

Picture credits: Michael Gubi

[We also invite you to take a look at the Portuguese elections aftermath as commented by Sérgio Maia Tavares Marques, here.]

Summary of Rottmann – Case C-135/08

by Daniela Cardoso, Jurist and Collaborating Member of CEDU 

Keywords: Citizenship of the Union; nationality of one Member State acquired by birth; nationality of another Member State acquired by naturalisation; loss of original nationality by reason of that naturalisation; loss with retroactive effect of nationality acquired by naturalisation on account of deception practised in that acquisition;  statelessness leading to loss of the status of citizen of the Union.

Court: ECJ | Date: March 2 2010 | Case: C-135/08 | Applicants: Janko Rottmann v. Freistadt Bayern

Summary: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) was referred for a preliminary ruling on proceedings that concerned a decision withdrawing the nationality, granted by way of naturalisation that, in turn, would result in the loss of the status of citizen of the Union.

Rottmann, an Austrian citizen, had acquired the German nationality through a naturalisation process from which, in accordance with the Austrian legislation, he automatically would lose his nationality of origin. The German authorities later found out that Rottmann had omitted the fact of being previously involved in serious criminal proceedings, and of being the main target of an arrest warrant. Due to this predicament, the German authorities decided to withdrew the German naturalisation with retroactive effect, on the grounds that the applicant had obtained German nationality by deception. Since these proceedings would result in the loss of the German nationality and, therefore, the citizen of the Union status as well, leaving him stateless, Rottmann challenged the decision from the German authorities.

The analysis made by the ECJ started to consider that, according to international law, it is within the competence of Member States to establish the conditions in which there is acquisition or loss of nationality. However, it also acknowledged that the exercise of this power can be subjected to further judicial control, when it affects rights and guarantees covered by EU law.

In fact, it is in the legitimate interest of the Member States to protect and foment the solidarity and good-faith relations among the State and their nationals, guaranteeing their loyalty, relation in which the concession of nationality is based. Accordingly, the ECJ states that EU law does not oppose to a decision of a Member State decision withdrawing the nationality, granted by way of naturalisation, when it was obtained by fraud, and as long as that decision goes through the proportionality test in regard to its consequences and effects in terms of EU law.

It is also relevant to highlight the opinion of the Advocate General which defended that there is a relation of reciprocity between the acquisition of nationality and the exercise of the rights that arise from the Treaty. Accordingly, the imposition of loyalty and good-faith in the process of acquisition of nationality, demanded by Germany, does not violate any EU law provision. Moreover, international law does not prohibit the loss of nationality even when the result is the statelessness.

The decision can be accessed here and the conclusions here.

Continue reading “Summary of Rottmann – Case C-135/08”