The dual nationality agreement that France and Spain signed in March 2021, whereby citizens of either country will not have to renounce their nationality of origin when acquiring the nationality of the other country, has been in force since April 1, 2022. The agreement was published in the BOE on March 29, 2022. Two days later, it came into force.

The agreement is an exceptional measure for both countries, and seeks to strengthen the historical and social ties existing on both sides of the Pyrenees. Until now, Spain only had agreements of this kind with Ibero-American states, as well as with others with which it has a certain colonial relationship -Philippines, Equatorial Guinea-. In a way, this is the first step in the further Europeanization of the Spanish state.

An exceptional agreement for both parties

In March 2021, when this agreement was agreed and the legal drafting was completed a year later, the then Foreign Minister of the Spanish Government, Arancha González Laya, wanted to highlight the "exceptional nature" of the agreement. "It is a very clear signal to the more than 275,000 Spaniards living in France and a nod to the more than 125,000 French people living in Spain," she said.

For his part, his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, considered the agreement to be "a strong symbol" of the good relations between the two countries. In fact, the fact that France is the first country in Europe with which Spain has signed this type of agreement is significant.

According to Foreign Ministry sources, work is now underway to reach similar agreements with other European countries, such as the United Kingdom.

Impact and historical context

The benefits of the agreement will affect, above all, French residents in Spain, since France, through a tacit agreement, had been allowing Spaniards in their country to share both nationalities.

Thus, the agreement will serve to put an end to what, in our opinion, was an absurd and unjust situation suffered by Spaniards in France. Many of them are descendants of the exile that followed the end of the Civil War among Republican Spaniards, and this agreement will mean that these people will not have to renounce a nationality, Spanish nationality, which was taken from them through war and repression. From now on, they will be able to share it with the nationality of the country that took in their families: France.

Until now, Spain only had dual nationality agreements signed with countries in the Ibero-American sphere or from its colonial past. These were: 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.

The new agreement signed with France is based on Article 11.3 of the Spanish Constitution, according to which "the State may conclude 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 be naturalised without losing their nationality of origin'.

Negotiations

Negotiations to move forward with this agreement between the Spanish authorities and their French counterparts began at the proposal of the former. The first step was the submission in 2019, through the Spanish Embassy in Paris, of a preliminary draft of the dual nationality agreement that has now entered into force.

Given the length of time that the negotiations have taken, it is easy to see that they have been very difficult. In fact, it was not until September 2020 that a consensus was reached between the Spanish-French authorities on the drafting of the final text for the aforementioned dual nationality agreement. This was finally signed in March 2021. It did not enter into force until 1 April 2022, giving both legal teams time to adapt it to their respective jurisprudence.

Implementation

The entry into force of the Convention affects the application of certain articles of the Civil Code, in particular those relating to:

  • Renunciation of previous nationality when acquiring Spanish nationality (Article 23 b) of the Civil Code);
  • The loss of Spanish nationality of emancipated persons who habitually reside abroad due to the voluntary acquisition of another nationality (Article 24.1 of the Civil Code),
  • The exemption of legal residence in Spain for the purpose of regaining Spanish nationality (Article 26.1 a) of the Civil Code) for persons who avail themselves of this Convention.

By virtue of the above, and in accordance with the provisions of Article 26 of Law 20/2011, of 21 July, the Directorate General for Legal Security and Public Faith has issued the Instruction of 31 March 2022, approving the application guidelines and registry procedures that enable the implementation of the Nationality Agreement between Spain and France. These guidelines, included as an annex, will be applied in all Civil Registry Offices and Notaries' Offices as they affect them, both in Spanish territory and in Consular Offices, regardless of whether the DICIREG system has been effectively implemented in them and whether Law 20/2011, of 21 July, is applicable.

Conclusion

In our opinion, the importance of this agreement between France and Spain is paramount, and it is of great significance at all levels: economic, cultural, human and historical. In a way, it is a redemption for the thousands and thousands of people who had to leave their country less than a century ago.

Moreover, the agreement is also a very significant step forward in the development of Spain's European identity. This type of dual nationality agreement is spreading and proliferating among European countries for professional reasons, as well as for the necessary process of building a shared European citizenship. One that adds to, but does not replace, one's own nationality.

We believe that, with decisions such as this one, Spain and France, as the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian rightly says, will be able to "write a new page of a particularly rich and dense relationship".

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