Synthesis Report: Pathways to citizenship for third-country nationals in the EU

Integration through acquisition of citizenship has become an important topic in many EU Member States in recent years, as the number of new migrants arriving in the EU has increased in recent years. The EMN study found that citizenship is seen by Member States as either the culmination of the integration process or as facilitating the integration process. However, in most Member States, third-country nationals are not actively encouraged to apply for citizenship.

Trends in the numbers of individuals granted citizenship of an EU-28 Member State showed an overall decline between 2014 and 2018. Policies on the acquisition of citizenship have evolved over time, with Member States reporting trends that render access to citizenship either more liberal or more restrictive. As of 2019, policies have been adopted to facilitate integration and adapt to societal changes, such as the drive to improve gender equality (Sweden, Finland) and social inclusion (Malta), or to address issues relating to historical conditions (Austria) and family ties (Germany, Greece, Portugal, Luxembourg). Conversely, more restrictive measures have been introduced to protect state security for example in Germany, Finland and Portugal.