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Document 62008CJ0135

Summary of the Judgment

Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 2 March 2010.
Janko Rottman v Freistaat Bayern.
Reference for a preliminary ruling: Bundesverwaltungsgericht - Germany.
Citizenship of the Union - Article 17 EC - 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.
Case C-135/08.



1. Citizens of the European Union – Provisions of the Treaty – Scope ratione personae

(Art. 17 EC)

2. Citizens of the European Union – Provisions of the Treaty – Nationality of a Member State

(Art. 17 EC)


1. The situation of a citizen of the European Union who is faced with a decision withdrawing his naturalisation, adopted by the authorities of one Member State, and placing him, after he has lost the nationality of another Member State that he originally possessed, in a position capable of causing him to lose the status conferred by Article 17 EC and the rights attaching thereto falls, by reason of its nature and its consequences, within the ambit of European Union law.

(see para. 42)

2. It is not contrary to European Union law, in particular to Article 17 EC, for a Member State to withdraw from a citizen of the Union the nationality of that State acquired by naturalisation when that nationality was obtained by deception, on condition that the decision to withdraw observes the principle of proportionality.

A decision withdrawing naturalisation because of deception corresponds to a reason relating to the public interest. In this regard, it is legitimate for a Member State to wish to protect the special relationship of solidarity and good faith between it and its nationals and also the reciprocity of rights and duties, which form the bedrock of the bond of nationality. That consideration on the legitimacy, in principle, of a decision withdrawing naturalisation on account of deception remains, in theory, valid when the consequence of that withdrawal is that the person in question loses, in addition to the nationality of the Member State of naturalisation, citizenship of the Union.

It is, however, for the national court to ascertain whether the withdrawal decision observes the principle of proportionality so far as concerns the consequences it entails for the situation of the person concerned in the light of European Union law, in addition, where appropriate, to examining the proportionality of the decision in the light of national law. Having regard to the importance which primary law attaches to the status of citizen of the European Union, when examining a decision withdrawing naturalisation it is necessary, therefore, to take into account the consequences that the decision entails for the person concerned and, if relevant, for the members of his family with regard to the loss of the rights enjoyed by every citizen of the Union, and to establish, in particular, whether that loss is justified in relation to the gravity of the offence committed by that person, to the lapse of time between the naturalisation decision and the withdrawal decision and to whether it is possible for that person to recover his original nationality.

(see paras 51, 54-56, operative part)