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German Bundesrat set to approve dual citizenship law Friday

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
German Bundesrat set to approve dual citizenship law Friday
The exterior of the German Bundesrat. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

After the German Bundestag passed a draft law allowing dual citizenship on January 19th, the Bundesrat (upper chamber) - which represents the federal states - looks likely to pass the law Friday.

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Even though the draft law - which would also reduce the amount of time someone needs to have been resident in Germany in order to naturalise from eight years to five - has cleared the Bundestag, the Bundesrat must still nominally agree to it.

The upper chamber is scheduled to deliberate it during its current session, starting Friday at 9:30 am, and is expected to pass it.

Although Bavaria, currently led by a conservative coalition between the Christian Social Union (CSU) and Free Voters (FW), has announced they will vote against citizenship reform in the Bundesrat - parliamentarians working on the law within the governing coalition say German conservatives have neither the power nor votes to block it.

READ ALSO: Can conservatives in Germany's Bundesrat still block dual citizenship?

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This is because, for one, citizenship is largely a federal competence that doesn't affect either the German constitution, state finances, or state administration - meaning the Bundesrat has a largely consultative role on citizenship reform.

Secondly, the parties of the current traffic light governing coalition - the Social Democrats, Greens, and liberal Free Democrats - have enough votes to in the Bundesrat to get around conservatives in the upper chamber.

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Why is the Bundesrat vote important here?

However, the law must still formally pass the Bundesrat. And the date that it does so is currently the biggest factor deciding when exactly the new law comes into effect.

This is because the law reads that new nationality rules, including allowing dual citizenship, can only come into effect three months after it is officially certified - in order to give the German civil service time to implement the new rules.

This official certification comes from the German President. While certification is essentially a ceremonial requirement, it can't be given until the Bundesrat passes the law.

Once it does, the President is likely to certify it after a constitutional review period, allowing the three-month implementation period to start. The office of the Federal President tells The Local it's difficult to say just how long that review period could last this time - but that it usually takes around two weeks.

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So when is the new law going to come into effect?

With the Bundesrat scheduled to debate the citizenship reform law on February 2nd and certification likely to happen soon after, the new rules on citizenship - including allowing dual citizenship - are likely to take effect in mid to late May.

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