There are several different ways to acquire dual citizenship, one of which is descent from a parent or grandparent. In a separate article, I delved into the principle of citizenship by descent, also known as jus sanguinis (law of blood), focusing on Italy and Ireland. For the purposes of this article, I will be focusing on those EU countries, other than Ireland and Italy, which allow dual citizenship based on descent – in particular, those countries with the least amount of requirements. Latvian citizenship by descent
The U.S. and Canada, and to a certain extent, France, still adhere to the principle of jus soli (territorial birthright); whereas, the 27 countries of the European Union (EU) are united in their policy of birthright by blood/descent (jus sanguinis). Since 2004 when Ireland amended its constitution, the EU presents a solid front for its policy of jus sanguinis, and no longer allows citizenship based unconditionally on territorial birthright. However, while the countries agree on this particular principle, they each separately recognize a myriad of different citizenship provisions.
The following EU countries allow dual citizenship based on descent, with the least amount of requirements.
Belgium is a fairly new addition to this list. Since 2008 Belgium has allowed dual citizenship based on descent. In the summer of 2012, the country proposed a new Belgian Nationality Law stipulating that applicants should be living in Belgium as long-term residents and be linguistically, socially, and economically integrated before they apply. If you become a citizen of Belgium, you do not have to renounce your other citizenship. The new Belgian Nationality Law, if passed in Fall 2012, will go into effect in early 2013.
France has recognized dual citizenship since 1973. A child, whether born abroad or in country, is considered French if he/she has at least one parent who was also born in France. While the country is the one hold-out in the EU that still recognizes jus soli to a certain extent, France no longer confers French nationality purely based purely on territorial birthright.
For the most part, Europe adhered to the principle of jus soli until the 19th Century. Playing a ping-pong match between the two citizenship principles, France recognized territorial birthright until the French Revolution, which caused revolutionaries to view the law of soil as a legacy of feudalism, linking people to land, which was held by a land lord. In 1803 it created the French civil code based on jus sanguinis. While France leaned more toward citizenship by descent in the 19th Century, Britain stayed fixed to the principle of jus soli, passing it along to its colonies in North America.