Belgium to end dual nationality? Author: CDC

Belga
Wed 19/04/2017 - 10:28 CDC Following the Turkish referendum and strong support in Belgium for President Erdogan's presidential system among Belgian Turks a Flemish Christian democrat lawmaker suggested ending the state of affairs that allows Belgians to hold two nationalities. Coalition partners in Flanders have welcomed the idea (Flemish nationalists) or at least not rejected it (Flemish liberals). However a change in the law could be some time in coming. Practical difficulties are cited as the biggest obstacle.

It is conceivable that parliament could legislate to ban Belgians from holding two or more nationalities. People with an international background, who often acquired Belgian nationality as a second nationality, could be obliged to give up their foreign passport if they wish to stay Belgians. Belgians who prefer to acquire a foreign nationality could be obliged to relinquish their Belgian nationality as was previously the case.

But there are practical obstacles. Some countries and these include nations from which many Belgian immigrants hail, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Turkey, don't allow nationals to lose their nationality. Several experts believe the juridical objections are so strong that the measure will never be introduced.

However, Belgian asylum secretary Francken insists that Belgium can sort the matter without reference to the EU. Most at risk of being obliged to choose one single nationality are citizens from outside the EU: people from Africa, the Americas and soon also the UK.

There are no clear figures to show how many people enjoy dual nationality. The only precise figure concerns the number of foreigners who have acquired Belgian nationality as an adult. It's also debatable that Belgium could retroactively withdraw Belgian nationality after it had been acquired.

What do the parties think?

The Flemish nationalists are enthusiastic. N-VA leader Bart De Wever believes in a sunset scenario and thinks the obstacles can be surmounted. The Flemish liberals' Ann Brusseel seems quite amenable suggesting there is a growing feeling that dual nationality can lead to some particularly nasty consequences.

Christian democrat leader Wouter Beke doesn't think the proposal is feasible - because of the juridical obstacles - though he concedes that it's logical that people only have one nationality.

The opposition socialists say that abolishing dual nationality won't help at all.