An Austrian national by birth transferred his residence to Germany and naturalised as a German national. The naturalisation in Germany had the effect, in accordance with Austrian law, of causing him to lose his Austrian nationality. The German authorities later withdrew the naturalisation with retroactive effect, on the grounds that the applicant had not disclosed that he was the subject of a criminal investigation in Austria on account of suspected serious fraud, and that he had thus obtained German nationality by deception. The Court held that it is not contrary to EU law for a Member State to withdraw nationality obtained by deception, even if it results in losing EU citizenship, so long as the decision observes the principle of proportionality. Observance of the principle of proportionality requires the person concerned to be afforded a reasonable period of time in order to try to recover the nationality of their Member State of origin.
The appellant is a former USSR national, living in Latvia. The case is concerned with whether Latvia’s refusal of citizenship to a person who had criticised the Government, constituted a punitive measure in violation of that individual’s rights to freedom of expression under Article 10 and freedom of assembly and association under Article 11. The Court found no violation of articles 10 and 11 as the denial of citizenship did not affect the appellant’s relevant rights. Contrary, it highlighted that there is no “right to a nationality” under the Convention, and no provision of Latvian law indicates the appellant’s right to Latvian citizenship.