EDITORIAL: Easing access to Luxembourg nationality is a welcome move, but by seeking consensus politicians have unnecessarily overcomplicated the new law.
Non-Luxembourgers eager to obtain nationality have some cause to celebrate on 1 April when new legislation on obtaining citizenship comes into force.
For too long they were left in limbo as the new law was being drafted and its precise provisions were unknown. But even after the law was published, clarity was missing. Social media was awash with applicants asking questions about whether they had to take a language test, how many hours of civics lessons they would be required to attend, and which language schools were accredited to provide Luxembourgish lessons.
By trying to accommodate a whole range of different groups, the lawmakers have fudged an opportunity and only created confusion. With eleven options to obtain citizenship, the new legislation has resulted in an illogical mess. For instance, residents who have lived in the grand duchy for more than 20 years no longer have to take a language test--which may well suit some people who struggle to learn languages, especially if they are of advancing age.
On the other hand, they are now obliged to sit through 24 hours of language lessons. So those applicants who have made an effort to learn the language without formal lessons are at a disadvantage--they do not have the option of sitting what for them could be a simple test and instead must dedicate a not insignificant amount of time to language lessons that may be superfluous to their needs. And it remains a mystery why those long-term residents are not required to take civics lessons. If they have not had the gumption to learn the language, then one can also assume many will not have bothered to sit down and study Luxembourg’s political system, history or law.
At least the law is doing away with the double standard of allowing access to recovering citizenship. This allowed applicants who may have only visited Luxembourg once to obtain certain papers the possibility of becoming a Luxembourger and therefore voting in national elections, while some residents who are fully engaged with local society were unable to vote because they had not obtained nationality.
Nevertheless, like the politicians who drafted the new law, we hope that as many non-Luxembourgers as possible take advantage of the easing of the requirements. By obtaining nationality, residents can redress the demographic balance and have a say in the way the country is run.
Duncan Roberts is editor-in-chief of Delano magazine