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The JOKK predicament

Access to Citizenship and Limits to EU Member States’ Power: The Case of Estonia
PhD ceremony:Mr V. (Vadim) Polestsuk
When:May 17, 2021
Start:18:00
Supervisors:prof. dr. A.L.B. (Aurelia) Colombi Ciacchi, prof. dr. D. Kochenov
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Law

The principal objective of this research is to audit the limits set by international and EU law in the context of EU Member States’ exclusive competence to deal with citizenship/nationality issues, especially how they address the most important problems related to access to and loss of citizenship, statelessness, minority rights and non-discrimination. The adequacy of existing regulations was tested with the example of Estonia, an EU Member State with a diverse population and a persistent mass statelessness problem. The study demonstrates that the rules that exist at the international level are clearly insufficient: the contemporary concepts of citizenship does not on its own imply adequate access to the ‘right to have rights’; international law does not offer a comprehensive solution to the problem of access to citizenship for vulnerable groups in the population, including stateless people; and the principle of proportionality required by EU law in matters of EU citizenship at the national level can only be implemented with great difficulty. As for Estonia, contrary to the official, legalist rhetoric and references to the principle of state continuity, the problem of statelessness is nothing more than the result of political decisions made in the early 1990s. Naturalisation requirements in Estonia adversely affect the huge indigenised Russian-speaking community and even amount to the ethnic or language discrimination of its members.