On 23 November, the Council of Ministers of the Government of Spain approved a convention which opens the door to dual nationality with France. The aim is to avoid requiring nationals of both countries to renounce their nationality of origin when they acquire the nationality of the other party.
So far, Spain only has agreements on dual nationality with Latin American countries, the Philippines and Equatorial Guinea. It is for this reason that both Spain and France have assessed the measure as exceptional.
"It is a very clear signal to the more than 275,000 Spanish residents in France and a wink to the more than 125,000 French residents in Spain," said the head of Spanish diplomacy, Arancha González Laya, after meeting her French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Minister González Laya also highlighted the "exceptional nature" of this agreement, which will benefit above all French residents in Spain, as France has already been allowing Spaniards who are in their country to share both nationalities. Ministry sources indicated that work is being done to reach similar agreements with other European countries, such as the United Kingdom.
For some decades now, France has accepted an unspoken way of allowing Spanish citizens to hold dual nationality and that is not to require them (as it does for almost all other European nationals) to renounce their nationality of origin when opting for French nationality.
However, under the agreement signed, there is no provision for privileged access to nationality, nor is there any reduction in the time required to obtain Spanish nationality by residence, which, moreover, will remain at 10 years for French citizens.
In any event, an agreement of this magnitude could be said to put an end, from our point of view, to an absurd and unjust situation suffered by the Spanish in France, who generally took root during the exile after the end of the Civil War, and this has been particularly painful for the descendants of the Spanish Republicans.
For its part, France, through Minister Le Drian, considered the agreement to be "a strong symbol" of good relations between the two countries. The fact that France is the first country in Europe with which Spain has signed this type of agreement is significant.
In March 2019, the Spanish authorities proposed to their French counterparts to start negotiations to achieve the signing of a bilateral agreement on nationality and to this end they submitted, through the Spanish Embassy in Paris, the preliminary draft of the dual nationality agreement.
All indications are that the negotiations were rather difficult because they took quite a long time.
It was only in September 2020 that a consensus was reached between the Spanish-French authorities on the drafting of the final text for the aforementioned agreement on dual nationality.
At present, Spain has signed agreements on dual nationality with Chile (1958), Peru (1959), Paraguay (1959), Nicaragua (1961), Guatemala (1961), Bolivia (1961), Ecuador (1964), Costa Rica (1964), Honduras (1966), Dominican Republic (1968), Argentina (1969), Colombia (1979), Equatorial Guinea, Philippines, Andorra, Portugal, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Uruguay and Venezuela.
According to the Spanish Constitution (article 11.3) it is established that: "the State may enter into treaties of dual nationality with Latin American countries or with those that have had or have a particular link with Spain. In these same countries, even if they do not recognise a reciprocal right for their citizens, Spaniards may naturalise without losing their nationality of origin".
I would like to stress that an agreement between France and Spain is very important. Its importance, both economic and cultural and human, is historic for both countries.
Moreover, it is above all a very significant step forward in the development of Spain's European identity.
The good news is that dual nationality agreements are spreading and proliferating between European countries for professional reasons, as well as for the necessary process of building a shared European citizenship, which adds to - but does not replace - one's own nationality.
With decisions such as this I believe that Spain and France, as the French Foreign Minister, Mr Le Drian, rightly says, will be able to "write a new page in a particularly rich and dense relationship".
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