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The Lithuanian citizenship law was recently adopted to be in accord with a Lithuanian Constitutional Court decision which is ever more clearly completely unfounded. Among its effects, some of which are covert – that is, they are apparently intentionally hidden from view and only materialize if one grasps how the statute is meant to work  (which is rather typical of Lithuanian statutes) – is the loss of citizenship effected upon a Lithuanian citizen’s acquiring of another (second) citizenship.

There is a tension between the lamentable Lithuanian law, EU citizenship, and the EU bedrock policy “freedom of movement,” which means the right to move to another EU state. In order to encourage such mobility, the policy is that member states such as Lithuania must allow a citizen of another member state to become its citizen after some reasonable period of residency (such as three to five years). This was famously expressed in the The Tampere European Council of 1999.

Thus, one can go to another state, and as a matter of EU policy, receive the citizenship of that state. Obviously, if by doing so the person in question loses the citizenship of his original EU member state, tension is generated between this fact and the EU principles outlined above.

Can the member state take away the citizenship of a natural born (not naturalized) citizen in this way without violating EU law?

It appears that the answer well may be no. “The European Court of Justice has recently pointed out in its judgment in the Rottmann case on 2
March 2010 that in exercising their powers to withdraw nationality, Member States must apply a principle of proportionality and have due regard to European Union law.” (The quote is from a handy bulletin:

The Rottmann case may be read in its entirety (it is short) here.

The ECJ case in question involves a person who may be rendered stateless … The Lithuanian citizenship law regarding a second citizenship does not really render them stateless, obviously.
One unfortunately cannot with complete assurance state that the ECJ caselaw holds that citizenship cannot be withdrawn wholesale because of the acquisition of a second Member State’s citizenship. The argument here would be that EU citizenship is not lost in such a case. Yet an argument of equality can be made; why is long-term residence in the second state ok, even if coupled with election to a local municipal council … A better argument would be that the lost original citizenship was stronger: naturalized citizens are usually at greater risk to lose their citizenship for various reasons.
The moral argument is, nevertheless, the strongest: why should any sanction be had against a person who did what was lawful and, indeed, encouraged? Why must he deny his father and all those he left behind?
But an even stronger argument could be made that deprivation of EU citizenship for a person who acquires U.S. citizenship violates EU law. U.S. citizenship can be acquired BY BIRTH in a foreign country (if one parent is an American citizen). If one deprives this person of their LT citizenship because of this, he loses the right to reside ANYWHERE in the EU. That is to say, he loses his EU citizenship – without ever having resided anywhere other than in Europe; indeed, without ever having resided anywhere other than, perhaps, in Lithuania.
Note that in certain EU countries this person would not lose the citizenship of the EU country concerned. The Lithuanian law would therefore be a type of discrimination against certain EU citizens.

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