Justice Minister: "We will not abolish dual nationality" Author: Michaël Torfs

Belga
Thu 20/04/2017 - 17:37 Michaël Torfs Justice Minister Koen Geens said in Federal Parliament that he does not support the idea of abolishing dual nationality for Belgians. Minister Geens (Christian democrat) is trying to put an end to a recent debate that started after the Turkish referendum.

The idea was first put forward by Christian democrat lawmaker Hendrik Bogaert, who added that it would only apply for those outside the EU. The idea behind it was that European identity is something precious that you either have or not have, something you choose for, and also that double nationality is not good for one's integration process.

Bogaert argued that Turks living in Belgium and holding a double passport are busier with following Turkish politics than Belgian issues. Ironically, Koen Geens is now arguing exactly the opposite (see below).

Bogaert soon received the support from Belgium's biggest political player, the Flemish nationalist N-VA. Chairman Bart De Wever, who despite lacking a position in the government is one of Belgium's most influential politicians, said he wants to abolish it slowly but surely in a sunset scenario.

The Flemish liberals were also in favour, but Koen Geens is now trying to put an end to the debate.

Unfair and not logical, says Geens

Koen Geens said the issue is too complicated and that it would be unfair: "Belgium cannot decide that if a citizen from a certain country also gets a Belgian passport, he loses his original passport."

"But we would be able to say that a Belgian acquiring a foreign nationality, loses his Belgian passport. Taking this into account, it seems difficult for me to consider abolishing the dual nationality for Belgians abroad. If you turn this around, the same goes for people from abroad, for their integration in Belgium."

Geens concluded: "Abolishing dual nationality would hamper the integration of foreigners in Belgium, and also the integration of Belgians in countries abroad." The minister referred to 2006, when Belgian legislation was adapted: "We won't turn back the clock to the situation as it was before 2006. We are now living in a European context, and a lot of countries allow dual nationality."

It is not clear whether this is the end of it, but the federal MP's have other hot potatoes, such as a capital gains tax, on the table.