Citizenship in the Nordic Countries

Past, Present, Future

image of Citizenship in the Nordic Countries

The Nordic countries have a century-long tradition for cooperation within the area of citizenship law. Since the mid-1970s, however, the Nordic countries have moved in different directions. Today, the Nordic countries represent the entire continuum in European citizenship policies – from liberal Sweden to restrictive Denmark, with the other Nordic neighbors in between. This report reviews the historical development and the current citizenship regime in the five Nordic countries, it provides statistics on the acquisition and loss of citizenship in each country over the past 10-15 years, and it offers a comparative analysis of the divergent development of citizenship law in the 2000s. The concluding chapter discusses possible consequences of the different citizenship regimes and the prospects for strengthened cooperation between the Nordic countries in the area of citizenship law.



Historical background: Citizenship in the Nordic region 1880–2017

In the 2000s, citizenship legislation in the Nordic countries has evolved in very different directions. Admittedly, all the countries have retained ius sanguinis – the principle of descent – as the basic rule for the acquisition of citizenship by birth, but they differ in their views on dual citizenship; whether ceremonies and oaths of allegiance are to be included; and on the requirements for time of residence, financial self-sufficiency, language proficiency, and knowledge of society and culture for the acquisition of citizenship through naturalization. This variation stands in sharp contrast to the historical efforts of creating a uniform citizenship regime in the Nordic region.


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