What's the current status of Germany's new citizenship law?
The law was headed for its first reading in the Bundestag on November 9, but was scratched from the agenda at short notice. Now there is a new prospective date for the law to enter the final stage of the legislative process.
Citizenship law likely to have Bundestag reading by December
Set to give millions of non-natives more rights and security than many have known since moving to Germany, the country’s new citizenship law has been eagerly awaited for a while now.
But in the final legislative stages, it was struck from the November 9 Bundestag agenda, due to FDP concerns that the current version of the law is not solid enough to prevent people with antisemitic views from gaining German citizenship.
Now, in an interview with The Local, FDP MP Stephan Thomae has said that despite the stall, the law will likely be on the agenda again for the Bundestag sitting planned for November 30, though this is yet to be confirmed and some see the date as too optimistic a timeline.
How might the law change before it goes to the Bundestag reading?
Between now and the prospective late-November date, there may be some amendments made to the law due to the FDP’s concerns that the current version does not adequately vet whether passport applicants explicitly acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, that is according to SPD MP Hakan Demir.
During the drafting stages of the law, amendments were already made to explicitly name certain crimes that would exclude applicants from attaining citizenship, such as proven cases of antisemitic, racist, xenophobic or inhuman acts.
At the moment, anyone who takes a naturalisation test while applying for a German passport does have to officially state that they accept the existence of all foreign states recognised by the federal republic, but the test does not explicitly name Israel. The idea, which was also proposed by CDU politician Friedrich Merz shortly after the Hamas attacks of October 7, could then be a possible amendment to the citizenship law before it reaches the first reading at the end of November.
CDU’s stance on expanding citizenship law is not new
One of the reasons that Germany’s citizenship law is only being updated now, under the traffic light coalition, is because Angela Merkel and the CDU have historically opposed granting dual citizenship to people with a residence permit.
Speaking to The Local, Demir said that he thought the right-leaning parties’ move to bring the current law’s rigour against antisemitism into question was founded in opportunism and assumptions about German Muslims’ politics. "The CDU and CSU don't need any focussing events like protests on the streets of Neukölln or Berlin to be against this law. They have been against it for 20, 30 years, but now they are using new arguments," he said.
"We have [over] 10 million people in Germany with a migration background. And they are working here they are living here, their children going to schools or studying. They have a big value here in Germany, and we have to see that as well," Demir said, adding that he hoped it wasn’t too late for the law to have its first reading before the new year.
Thumb image credit: M.Nergiz / Shutterstock.com