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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.

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Development of Nordic citizenship law in the 21st century – a comparative analysis

From the late 19th century onward, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway collaborated to establish homogeneity in the citizenship legislation prevailing in the Scandinavian region (Brochmann & Seland 2010; Ersbøll 2003; Midtbøen 2015). The main driver of these efforts was the “pan-Scandinavianism” of the time, a cultural movement which, according to Wickström, “conceptualized the nations of Sweden, Denmark (including Iceland) and Norway (at the time in personal union with Sweden) as a family of brothers that shared the same cultural and linguistic heritage; a heritage that needed to be rediscovered and reconstructed in the modern age” (2017: 676–677).

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