New CJEU judgment (C-118/20) on preventing statelessness in renunciation of nationality

18 Jan 2022 / Austria / European Union / Prevention and reduction
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In the case before the CJEU, JY applied for Austrian nationality and renounced her Estonian nationality, after receiving an assurance that she would be granted Austrian nationality if she renounced all others. Austria adopts a 'single nationality' approach, therefore until it is evidenced that the person has renounced all other nationalities (or is unable to do so), only an assurance is issued and it may be revoked in certain circumstances.

As a result of her renunciation, JY became stateless and lost her EU citizenship. Later, the competent authority revoked the assurance and refused to grant her Austrian nationality, on the grounds that JY had committed road traffic offences.

In its judgment of 18 January 2022, the CJEU confirms that the situation of JY falls within the scope of EU law, in line with previous case law including Rottman and Tjebbes. The CJEU also concluded that the national authorities must ascertain whether the decision to revoke an assurance to grant nationality is compatible with the principle of proportionality. Particularly considering that the decision to not grant Austrian nationality to JY led to the permanent loss of EU citizenship and was based on administrative traffic offences, the decision is not proportionate.

The judgment is a step forward in the prevention and reduction of statelessness and reinforces Member States’ obligations throughout Europe. It also reminds Austria that it must implement safeguards against statelessness in the provisions governing voluntary renunciation and acquisition of Austrian nationality, which currently fall below its international obligations.


For an analysis of how other countries perform against international norms and good practice in this area, as well as recommendations for action, see our Statelessness INDEX Thematic Briefing on Deprivation of nationality and the prevention of statelessness in Europe.

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