Member State nationality under EU law: To be or not to be a Union Citizen?

Lorin-Johannes Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The question of who ought to be regarded as Union citizen is a central but not an easily answered
question. Drawing on an analysis of the ECJ’s case-law and the underlying constitutional set up of Union
citizenship, this article argues that the notion of nationality in EU law is based on a jurisdictional
conception that builds on the idea of a genuine link and a territorial link with the EU. Relying on this
understanding the article assesses the peculiar cases of Germany, the UK and Denmark, establishing
not only if and how Member States can reconfigure the meaning of their nationality under EU law but
also highlighting that the notion of nationality as a peremptory marker for Union citizenship is defined
within the constitutional realm of EU law. The understanding that Member States are free to define
their nationality within EU law, hence, is a misplaced overstatement of sovereignty. Against this
backdrop the last part of the article turns to the case of Latvian non-citizens, arguing that Latvian noncitizens, who are generally not regarded as Union citizens, have been Union citizens all along.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-331
Number of pages28
JournalMaastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Union citizenship
  • nationality law
  • German nationality
  • British nationality
  • Danish nationality
  • Latvian non-citizenship
  • nationality for the purpose of EU law
  • Faroe Islands


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