Dr Alexander Kornezov
Part I of this Article examined the compatibility with EU law of relevant Bulgarian legislative acts transposing Directive 2004/38/EC, Directive 93/109/EC and Directive 94/80/EC into national law. Part II focuses on the case law of Bulgarian courts on Union citizenship matters. It will first delve into the application, by Bulgarian courts, of Article 27 of Directives 2004/38/EC, in particular with regard to the interpretation of the concept of ”public policy” and the principle of proportionality. These issues have generated a very substantial body of case law which has ultimately resulted in a number of preliminary references to the Court of Justice of the EU. In parallel, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has also had to assess the compatibilty of the relevant provision of national law and jurisprudence with the Convention. These matters will be discussed in Section 2. The article will then briefly examine, in Section 3, how Article 28 of Directives 2004/38/EC has been construed by the national legislature and case law. In Section 4, the interpretation and application of EU primary law – namely, Articles 20 and 21 TFEU – will be critically appraised, with a particular emphasis on the rights that static EU citizens have, or should have, as opposed to the rights of mobile EU citizens. Finally, the article will assess the repercussions of EU law on the rules governing the acquisition and loss of Bulgarian citizenship (Section 5).
The main purpose of the analysis that follows is to identify the possible inconsistencies in the case law of Bulgarian courts in order to assist both judges and other legal practitioners in their daily work. It thus intentionally steers away from the academic and theoretical debate surrounding EU citizenship matters.
- Restrictions on free movement on grounds of public policy
Article 27 of Directive 2004/38/EC allows Member States to restrict the freedom of movement and residence of Union citizens and their family members, irrespective of nationality, on grounds of “public policy, public security or public health”. Nonetheless, paragraph 1 expressly provides that these grounds shall not be invoked to serve economic ends. Moreover, by virtue of Article 27(2) of the Directive, any restriction imposed on grounds of public policy or public security, must comply with the principle of proportionality and must be based ”exclusively on the personal conduct of the individual concerned”. In particular, previous criminal convictions shall not in themselves constitute grounds for taking such measures. This provision also stipulates that the personal conduct of the individual concerned must represent a “genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society”. It further specifies that justifications that are isolated from the particulars of the case or that rely on considerations of general prevention are not accepted. Thus, while Article 27 of the Directive allows the imposition of restrictions on the freedom of movement, it also significantly circumscribes the Member States’ margin of appreciation in that regard by subordinating the latter to a number of strict conditions of justification, necessity and proportionality.
In Bulgaria, the concept of “public policy” and the application of the principle of proportionality within the context of Article 27 of the Directive has already generated a substantial body of case law. Most of it concerns Bulgarian citizens who were banned from leaving the country on one of the following grounds:
- the person concerned had committed an offence, while residing in another State; or
- the person concerned had a tax or a social security liability of more than 5000 BGN; or
- the person concerned had a private debt of the same amount.
The legality of these grounds for banning a Bulgarian citizen from leaving the country has been challenged as being contrary to the Bulgarian Constitution, to the ECHR and to EU law, in particular to Article 27 of Directive 2004/38.
It is noteworthy that the right to free movement is not guaranteed in identical terms under these three instruments. In particular:
- According to the Bulgarian Constitution, the freedom of movement may be restricted ”for the protection of constitutionally recognised values, such as national security, public health and the rights and freedoms of other citizens” (Article 35);
- Pursuant to Article 2 of Protocol 4 of the ECHR, which Bulgaria has signed and ratified, “no restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are in accordance with law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the maintenance of ordre public, for the prevention of crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”.
It follows, first, that unlike Article 27 of the Directive, Article 35 of the Constitution makes no mention of “public policy” but instead allows restrictions for the protection of the ”rights and freedoms of other citizens”. The interesting query here is whether the two concepts overlap or whether they are different. Secondly, Article 27 of the Directive expressly provides that the grounds mentioned in that Article cannot be invoked ‘to serve economic ends’. Such a condition is absent from the Constitution. Thirdly, the list of grounds on which the freedom of movement may be restricted under Article 35 of the Constitution, seems not to be exhaustive, which is illustrated by the use of ”such as”. The contrast here with Article 27 of the Directive, where the list of the abovementioned three grounds is exhaustive, is manifest. Similarly, Article 2 of Protocol 4 of the ECHR provides, like the Constitution, that the freedom of movement may be restricted for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others, and adds as possible grounds the prevention of crime and the protection of morals. There is no equivalent of the prohibition to restrict the freedom of movement on economic grounds either.
Bulgarian courts thus had the difficult task of distinguishing between, or as the case may be, conciliating these different legal instruments and their subtle differences. The matter was eventually brought before the Supreme Administrative Court, the Constitutional Court, the European Court of Human Rights (“ECtHR”) and the Court of Justice of the EU.
2.1 Is Article 27 of Directive 2004/38/EC applicable to a Member State’s own nationals?
The first query that had to be resolved was whether EU law and, in particular, Article 27 of the Directive, was applicable to nationals in respect of their own State of origin. The query gave rise to the preliminary reference in Gaydarov, which concerned a ban from leaving the country imposed on a Bulgarian citizen following an offence committed in a third state. The Court of Justice of the EU pointed out, first, that, as a Bulgarian national, Mr Gaydarov enjoyed the status of a citizen of the Union under Articleicle 20 TFEU and could therefore rely on the rights pertaining to that status, including against his Member State of origin, and in particular the right conferred by Article 21 TFEU to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States. It then added, secondly, that the right of freedom of movement includes both the right for EU citizens to enter a Member State other than the one of origin and the right to leave the State of origin. As the Court has already had occasion to state, in relation of a Romanian national who was also banned from leaving the country, the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the TFEU would be rendered meaningless if the Member State of origin could, without valid justification, prohibit its own nationals from leaving its territory in order to enter the territory of another Member State. Moreover, Article 4(1) of Directive 2004/38 expressly provides that all Union citizens with a valid identity card or passport have the right to leave the territory of a Member State to travel to another Member State. On this basis, the Court concluded that a ban to leave the country imposed by a Member State with respect to its own citizens is covered by the right of EU citizens to move and reside freely in the Member States and therefore falls within the scope of Directive 2004/38.
2.2. Is the failure to pay a public or a private debt a valid ground for restricting the right to free movement?
National courts were also confronted on numerous occasions with the question of whether the failure to pay a public or a private debt could serve as a ground to restrict the right to free movement of Union citizens. After national courts had initially confirmed the legality of such bans, the matter was brought to the ECtHR in Riener v. Bulgaria. The Strasbourg court held that a ban on leaving the country as a consequence of a failure to pay a public debt of 5000 BGN or more (tax or social security liabilities) pursued a legitimate aim, namely, maintaining the ordre public and the protection of the rights of others within the meaning of Article 2 of Protocol 4 of the ECHR, without further elaborating on the matter. Later, in Ignatov v. Bulgaria, the ECtHR held that banning a person who had failed to pay a private debt from leaving the country also pursued a legitimate aim, namely, the protection of the rights of others. In both cases, the ban was found to be disproportionate, given that it did not provide for periodic reassessment in the light of factors such as whether or not reasonable efforts to collect the debt had been made and whether the debtor’s leaving the country was likely to undermine the chances to collect the money. The ECtHR also pointed out that the ban had an automatic character and could thus remain in force over lengthy periods of time without taking into consideration the debtor’s personal conduct.
The matter was also considered by the Bulgarian Constitutional Court. It found that a ban on leaving the country as a consequence of a failure to pay a public debt was, in principle, justified on grounds pertaining to the ”protection of the rights and freedoms of other citizens” within the meaning of Article 35 of the Constitution. It pointed out that such a failure ”undermines the economic foundations of the State, creates a risk for the timely and effective payments and services, necessary for guaranteeing some constitutionally recognised fundamental rights, such as the right to social security and social assistance, medical insurance and free medical care, education, healthy and favourable environment, etc.” A ban on leaving the country on grounds of a failure to pay a private debt was, according to the Constitutional Court, also justified in the name of the ”protection of the rights and freedoms of other citizens”, since such a failure breached the creditor’s right to private property. Nevertheless, the Constitutional Court declared both bans unconstitutional, because, in substance, they took no account of the debtor’s personal behaviour (e.g. whether he or she cooperated with the authorities or obstructed the reimbursemnt of the debt), nor did they conform with the principle of proportionality, given that, according to the Bulgarian penal code, only certain serious and intentional failures to pay a public liability, amounting to a criminal offence, may be punished by a ban on leaving the country. It is noteworthy that the Constitutional Court reasoned exclusively on the basis of Article 35 of the Constitution. It did mention, in a sort of an obiter dicta, some of the differences between the wording of that provision and Article 27 of the Directive, but drew no conclusion from this, other than a statement that the declaration of unconstitutionality would “facilitate” the transposition of Article 27. In a dissenting opinion, three of the judges added that the bans in question should not be considered as serving economic ends within the meaning of Article 27(1) of the Directive, because they contributed to the ”stability of the public order and legal certainty, given that they are based on a final national judgement or a definitve injunction to pay”.
It was therefore because of their failure to respect the principle of proportionality that these bans were found to violate the ECHR and the Bulgarian Constitution. The case-law discussed above did not however address the question of whether the imposition of such bans is compatible with EU law and, in particular, whether they can be justified on grounds of ”public policy” within the meaning of Article 27 of the Directive. That question remained relevant since, if the bans could not be justified on that ground, they were illegal per se. By contrast, if they were only disproportionate, they could be maintained as such, subject to certain legislative amendments allowing for the particularities of each case to be taken into consideration.
In that regard, national courts considered that a ban following a failure to pay a public debt pursued a ”just objective”, underlining the public interest involved in the responsibility of the authorities to ensure budgetary revenue. The question was eventually referred to the Court of Justice of the EU in Aladzhov. The Court pointed out that “the possibility cannot be ruled out as a matter of principle” that non‑recovery of tax liabilities may fall within the scope of ”public policy” within the meaning of Article 27(1) of the Directive and that the resulting ban cannot be considered, as a matter of principle, to serve exclusively economic ends. The Court however emphasised that he concept of public policy presupposes the existence, in addition to the perturbation of the social order which any infringement of the law involves, of a ”genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society”, related, for example, to the amount of the sums at stake or to what is required to combat tax fraud. The Court also addressed the issue of the differences between Article 27(1) of the Directive and Article 35 of the Constitution, pointing out that these differences were “of no relevance” since ”all that matters” was whether the ban was based on a ground which could be regarded as within the scope oof public policy, within the meaning of EU law. As regards the proportionaility of the measure, the Court noted that such measures are founded solely on the existence of the tax liability without any specific assessment of the personal conduct of the person concerned and with no reference to any threat of any kind which he represents to public policy. It also invited the national court to verify whether there existed other less intrusive measures, suggesting strongly that, even if the ban at issue were to be considered as adopted on one of the grounds laid down in Article 27(1) of the Directive, it looked like it failed to satisfy the conditions of the second paragraph thereof.
With regard to bans imposed as a consequence of a failure to pay a private debt however, national courts were much more hesitant. Part of the case-law considered that such bans cannot be justified on grounds of public policy within the meaning of Article 27(1) of the Directive but served purely economic ends. In one case, such a ban was even held to be of a sufficiently serious nature as to give rise to State liability. Another part of the case-law however seems to suggest that a failure to pay a private debt can, in principle, constitute a ground of public policy, “if the financial interest at issue amounts to a fundamental interest of society”. The contradictions in the case-law gave rise to an interpretative judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court, where it held that such a ban was contrary to the Directive, because of the automatic and disproportionate character of the measure. The judgment however did not address the issue of whether such a ban was to be considered as pursuing one of the grounds spelled out in Article 27 of the Directive. This was noted in two dissenting opinions, one of which argued that the matter should have been referred to the Court of Justice of the EU in order for the latter to assess whether a ban for a failure to pay a private debt can be justified on grounds of public policy.
The matter was indeed eventually brought to the attention of the Court of Justice of the EU by a lower court in Byankov. The Court appeared rather sceptical about whether a failure to pay a private debt was a matter of public policy, noting that ”even if the view could reasonably be taken that some notion of safeguarding the requirements of public policy underlies such an objective, it cannot be ruled out (…), that the prohibition on leaving the territory at issue in the main proceedings pursues an exclusively economic objective, (which) Article 27(1) of Directive 2004/38 expressly excludes (…)”. As regards the requirement of taking into consideration the personal conduct and the proportionality of the measure, the Court’s considerations were analogous to those spelled out in Aladzhov, mentioned above.
What conclusions can be drawn from the different currents of case-law outlined above? Whereas the assessment of the principle of proportionality carried out by the Supreme Administrative Court, the Constitutional Court, the ECtHR and the Court of Justice of the EU was not dissimilar, this was not necessarily the case with regard to the notion of “public policy”. While the Constitutional Court and the ECtHR had no problem concluding that a ban on leaving the country in the event of a failure to pay a public and/or a private debt of a certain amount can be justified on grounds of maintaining the public order (ECtHR) or of protecting the rights and freedoms of others (ECtHR and the CC), the Court of Justice of the EU was much less affirmative and manifestly dubious in that regard. This question however remains important, even after the declaration of unconstitutionality by the Constitutional Court. Indeed, even if, as a result, the unconstitutional provisions of national law are no longer applicable, they have not yet been formally repealed by the legislator. If we were to assume, as did the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Administrative Court and the ECtHR, that the restrictions in question can in principle be justified, the legislator could maintain those restrictions, provided that due account is taken of the principle of proportionality, by instructing, for example, the competent authorities to take into consideration the personal behaviour of the individual concerned. By contrast, if these restrictions cannot be justified on grounds of public policy, as the Court of Justice of the EU strongly suggested with regard to bans on leaving the country following a failure to pay a private debt, then the national legislator should simply scrap them altogether. It remains to be seen what action – long overdue – will the Bulgarian Parliament undertake in that regard.
More generally, national courts seemed confused as to the respective scope of application of the Constitution, the ECtHR and EU law and their underlying principles and rationale. Given the importance of free movement in Union law, it is only logical that the Directive be less permissive of restrictions on the freedom of movement than international treaties, or, as the case may be, national constitutions. Indeed, free movement is at the core of European integration. The possible restrictions thereof are therefore few and narrowly framed within the context of the EU. By contrast, free movement is far less of a core interest to the Council of Europe and the ECtHR. The latter includes also non-EU states, with regard to which the Convention has not established any EU-like free movement of persons. To the contrary, various restrictions on free movement applicable to nationals of non-EU states have been in place perfectly legally for many decades. It is thus only natural that the yardsticks used respectively by Strasbourg and by Luxembourg are substantially different. The same is true for the Bulgarian Constitution. Indeed, Article 35 is broadly worded – and rightly so – being thus permissive of restrictions on free movement going beyond what EU law allows. This constitutional provision should thus be interpreted in two distinctive ways: on the one hand, in the light of EU law as far as free movement within the EU is concerned, and, on the other hand, as far as non-EU freedom of movement is concerned, an interpretation more permissive of restrictions may be tolerated. Both the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Administrative Court have however failed to take account of these subtleties.
- Protection against expulsion
Article 28 of the Directive provides that, before taking an expulsion decision on grounds of public policy or public security, the host Member State shall take account of considerations such as how long the individual concerned has resided on its territory, his/her age, state of health, family and economic situation, social and cultural integration into the host Member State and the extent of his/her links with the country of origin. However, the host Member State is precluded from taking an expulsion decision against Union citizens or their family members, irrespective of nationality, who have the right of permanent residence on its territory, except on “serious grounds of public policy or public security”. In addition, under Article 28(3) of the Directive, if a Union citizen (a) has resided in the host Member State for the previous 10 years; or (b) is a minor, except if the expulsion is necessary for the best interests of the child, as provided for in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989, an expulsion decision may not be taken against him or her, except if the decision is based on ”imperative grounds of public security, as defined by Member States”.
When transposing Article 28 into national law, the Bulgarian legislator has taken a somewhat different approach from that of the Directive. Article 25 of the Union Citizens Act distinguishes only between two categories of Union citizens – those who have resided in Bulgaria for 10 or more years and all other Union citizens, irrespective of whether they have acquired the right of permanent residence or not. With regard to the first category, expulsion may be ordered “only in exceptional circumstances on grounds of national security”. This wording seems to reflect, albeit in different terms, the “imperative grounds of public security” of Article 28(3) of the Directive. With regard to the second category, expulsion is allowed where the Union citizen “represents a genuine, present and serious threat to national security or public order”. Thus, under national law, the same – higher – threshold pertaining to the serious character of the threat to public order or national security is applicable to all Union citizens having resided in the country for less than 10 years, irrespective of whether they have acquired the right of permanent residence or not. It therefore appears that the Union Citizens Acts lays down a framework ensuring a higher level of protection against expulsion with regard to Union citizens who have not yet acquired the right of permanent residence. By virtue of Article 37 of the Directive, the latter does not affect more favorable national provisions.
There is little domestic case law on expulsion of Union citizens or their family members. In one case however, the Supreme Administrative Court undertook to interprete the notions of serious and “imperative” grounds of public policy and public security. Confronted with difficulties in establishing the precise length of time of the person’s residence in the country, that court decided to examine whether the facts of the case amounted both to “serious” and “imperative” grounds of public policy and public security capable of justifying his expulsion. In that regard, it took into consideration the following circumstances: the person was sentenced to more than 5 years in prison for drug trafficking as part of an organised group, has been presenting himself with a false identity over a long period of time, has resided illegally in the country and has not culturally and socially integrated into Bulgarian society. The Supreme Administrative Court concluded, after quoting the Court’s judgment in Tsakouridis, that the abovementioned facts sufficed to consider that the grounds on which the expulsion decision had been taken amount both to serious and imperative grounds of national security.
One could hardly draw specific conclusions from this one judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court. While it is obvious that no distinction was drawn between the two sets of conditions laid down in Article 28 of the Directive, this could be attributed to a certain extent to the many factual ambiguities of the case, namely the difficulties in identifying the person concerned and in determining the exact length of time he had spent in the country. It thus remains to be seen how the national courts will in practice distinguish between the “serious” grounds of public policy or public security and the “imperative” grounds of public security.
The indications given by the Court of Justice of the EU in Tsakouridis may be particularly useful in that regard. The Court noted that, by subjecting all expulsion measures in the cases referred to in Article 28(3) of the Directive to the existence of ‘imperative grounds’ of public security, a concept which is considerably stricter than that of ‘serious grounds’ within the meaning of Article 28(2), the EU legislature clearly intended to limit measures based on Article 28(3) to ‘exceptional circumstances’. The Court emphasised that the concept of ‘imperative grounds of public security’ presupposes not only the existence of a threat to public security, but also that such a threat is of a ”particularly high degree of seriousness”, as is reflected by the use of the words ‘imperative reasons’. The Court also noted that, unlike Article 28(2), a Union citizen to whom Article 28(3) applies, may be expulsed only on grounds pertaining to ”public security” and not to public order. In that regard, the Court clarified that, since drug addiction represents a serious evil for the individual and is fraught with social and economic danger to mankind, ”trafficking in narcotics as part of an organised group” could reach a level of intensity that might directly threaten the calm and physical security of the population as a whole or a large part of it. Nonetheless, the Court underscored the importance of striking a balance between the exceptional nature of the threat to public security as a result of the personal conduct of the individual concerned, by reference in particular to the possible penalties and the sentences imposed, the degree of involvement in the criminal activity, and the risk of reoffending, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the risk of compromising the social rehabilitation of the Union citizen in the State in which he has become genuinely integrated. Thus, the sentence passed must be taken into account as one element in that complex of factors. In particular, a sentence of five years’ imprisonment cannot lead to an expulsion decision without all the relevant factors being taken into account, which is for the national court to verify. In that assessment, account must be taken of the fundamental rights of the person concerned, in particular the right to respect for private and family life as set forth in Article 7 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. To assess whether the interference contemplated is proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued, in this case the protection of public security, account must be taken in particular of the nature and seriousness of the offence committed, the duration of residence of the person concerned in the host Member State, the period which has passed since the offence was committed and the conduct of the person concerned during that period, and the solidity of the social, cultural and family ties with the host Member State. In the case of a Union citizen who has lawfully spent most or even all of his childhood and youth in the host Member State, very good reasons would have to be put forward to justify the expulsion measure.
- Interpretation and application of Articles 20 and 21 TFEU by Bulgarian courts
Directive 2004/38 harmonises the conditions for exercising the right of EU citizens and their family members to move and reside freely in a Member State other than their own Member State. This is clear from the wording of Art 3 of the Directive, by virtue of which the Directive applies to all Union citizens who move to or reside in a “Member State other than that of which they are a national”, and to their family members who accompany or join them. As mentioned above, the Directive also applies to Union citizens with regard to their own Member States in respect of their right of exit.
There could however be situations which fall outside of the scope of application of the Directive. One obvious example pertains to members of the family of a Union citizen who do not come within the ambit of Article 3 of the Directive. Another example can be found in a situation where a EU citizen’s own Member State imposes restrictions to free movement on those of its own citizens who have exercised their right to free movement. In such instances the Directive does not apply either. In these two types of situations, however, EU primary law – in particular Article 21 TFEU – may apply. The interpretation and application of Article 21 TFEU follows, grosso modo, the classical test, known from the Court’s constant case law on free movement. This test implies verifying whether the national measure at hand restricts free movement, whether the restriction is justified, necessary and proportionate. Numerous examples of how this test is applied in practice can be found in the case law of the Court of Justice of the EU. For this reason, this test will not be discussed in further detail in the present analysis.
There is however one further – and much more controversial – hypothesis where primary EU law may apply. These are the so-called “purely internal situations”, whereby the Union citizen has not exercised his or her right to free movement. It is clear that the Directive does not apply to static EU citizens. The crucial question here is whether EU primary law – in particular, Article 20 TFEU – applies and, if yes, under what conditions. This question has sparked significant controversy in academia and among legal practitioners. This is very much due to the obvious tension that exists between, on the hand, the overarching paradigm according to which EU free movement law does not apply in purely internal situations, and, on the other hand, the constitutional status that EU citizenship is supposed to have and which, as such, should be capable of applying in all sort of situations, regardless of whether the EU citizen has or has not exercised his or her right to free movement. The present article will not address this debate. It will rather focus on the case law of the Court of Justice of the EU concerning the application of Article 20 TFEU in purely internal situations and how this case law has been applied by the Bulgarian judicature.
4.1. Overview of the case law of the Court of Justice of the EU
A short overview – which is only illustrative and certainly far from exhaustive – of the Court of Justice’s case law in order. The celebrated judgment in Zambrano is the first one where the Court ruled that Article 20 TFEU did apply in a purely internal situation. The case concerned a Colombian couple living in Belgium, whose two minor children had in the meantime acquired Belgian, and hence EU citizenship. The EU citizens (the children) had never exercised their right to move across the EU. Despite this, the Court ruled that Article 20 TFEU precluded national measures which had the “effect of depriving citizens of the Union of the genuine enjoyment of the substance of the rights conferred by virtue of their status as citizens of the Union”. A refusal to grant a right of residence to a third country national with dependent minor children in the Member State where those children are nationals and reside would lead to a situation where those children, citizens of the Union, would have to leave the territory of the Union in order to accompany their parents. The Court concluded that, in such circumstances, those citizens of the Union would, in fact, be unable to exercise the substance of the rights conferred on them by virtue of their status as citizens of the Union.
In Dereci, a case which also concerned a purely internal situation, the Court explained that the criterion relating to the “denial of the genuine enjoyment of the substance of the rights conferred by virtue of EU citizen status” referred to situations in which the Union citizen had, in fact, to leave not only the territory of the Member State of which he was a national but also the territory of the Union as a whole. Consequently, the mere fact that it might appear desirable to a national of a Member State, for economic reasons or in order to keep his family together in the territory of the Union, for the members of his family who do not have the nationality of a Member State to be able to reside with him in the territory of the Union, is not sufficient in itself to support the view that the Union citizen will be forced to leave Union territory if such a right is not granted. In such situations, national law, and eventually the ECHR apply, not EU law.
The Court’s judgments in Carpenter and Zhu and Chen are often cited as examples of the application of EU law in purely internal situations. However, this is incorrect. Although the facts of these cases are not straightforward, a transnational link could nonetheless be established. In Carpenter, Mrs. Carpenter, a national of the Philippines, had been staying illegally in the UK, while marrying in the meantime a UK national who ran a business selling advertising space in medical and scientific journals and offering various administrative and publishing services to the editors of those journals. While his business was established in the UK, a significant proportion thereof was conducted with advertisers established in other EU Member States, to which Mr. Carpenter travelled regularly for the purpose of his business. This was enough for the Court to apply Article 49 EC (freedom to provide services), concluding that that provision, “read in the light of the fundamental right to respect for family life”, precluded a refusal, by the Member State of origin of a provider of services established in that Member State who provides services to recipients established in other Member States, of the right to reside in its territory to that provider’s spouse, who is a national of a third country.
In Zhu and Chen, a trans-border link was also present, since the case concerned a Chinese national residing in the UK who had given birth to a child, who had acquired, by virtue of her being born in Northern Ireland, Irish nationality. Thus, although strictly speaking the EU citizen had not exercised her right to free movement, at the end of the day, the case was about an Irish national residing the UK, which distinguished this case from a purely internal situation stricto sensu. That explained the application of Article 21 TFEU and Directive 2003/48 in this case and not the Zambrano criterion relating to the “denial of the genuine enjoyment of the substance of the rights conferred by virtue of EU citizen status”, which applied only in purely internal situations. In particular, the Court found that the child could stay in the UK, since she fulfilled the requirements of Article 7 of the Directive (there was no doubt that she, through her mother, had sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the UK during their period of residence and had comprehensive sickness insurance cover in the host Member State). With regard to the mother, Chinese citizen, who did not qualify as a ”family member” within the meaning of the Directive, the Court pointed out that the refusal to allow the parent, who is the carer of a child having, by virtue of Article 21 TFEU and the Directive, the right of residence in the UK, would deprive of any useful effect that right. The Court held that enjoyment by a young child of a right of residence necessarily implied that the child was entitled to be accompanied by the person who was his or her primary carer and accordingly that the carer must be in a position to reside with the child in the host Member State for the duration of such residence. For that reason alone, where Article 21 TFEU and the Directive grant a right to reside for an indefinite period in the host Member State to a young minor who is a national of another Member State, those same provisions allow a parent who is that minor’s primary carer to reside with the child in the host Member State.
The recent judgment in Alokpa provides a good example of the interaction between Articles 20 and 21 TFEU and the Directive. It concerned a citizen of Togo who had given birth in Luxembourg of twins, whose father, a French national, has subsequently recognized them. On this basis, the twins had acquired French citizenship. Thus, there was also a trans-border element in this case. Since Mrs Alokpa was residing illegally in Luxembourg, the question was raised of whether she could rely on her children’s EU citizenship and oppose, by virtue of Articles 20 and/or 21 TFEU and/or the Directive, her expulsion from Luxembourg. The Directive was applicable to the situation of the twins (French nationals residing in Luxembourg); they could thus remain in Luxembourg, if they fulfilled, through the intermediary of their mother, the requirements of Article 7 of the Directive (i.e. have sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State during their period of residence and have comprehensive sickness insurance cover in the host Member State). Therefore, while Article 21 TFEU and Directive 2004/38 grant a right to reside in the host Member State to a minor child who is a national of another Member State and who satisfies the conditions of Article 7 of that directive, the same provisions allow a parent who is that minor’s primary carer to reside with the child in the host Member State (a situation analogous to Zhu and Chen). If, however, the conditions of Article 7 of the directive are not met, Article 21 TFEU does not preclude Mrs Alokpa from being refused a right of residence in Luxembourg. As far as Article 20 TFEU is concerned, the Court emphasised that there were very specific situations in which, despite the fact that EU secondary law on the right of residence of third-country nationals does not apply and the Union citizen concerned has not made use of his freedom of movement, a right of residence cannot, exceptionally, be refused to a third-country national who is a family member of his if, as a consequence, that citizen would be obliged in practice to leave the territory of the EU altogether, thus denying him the genuine enjoyment of the substance of the rights conferred by virtue of the status of citizen of the European Union. In that regard, the Court pointed out that Mrs Alokpa, as the mother and as sole carer of her children, could benefit of a derived right to reside in France. Consequently, the refusal by the Luxembourg authorities to grant Mrs Alokpa a right of residence could not result in her children being obliged to leave the territory of the Union altogether.
4.2. Overview of the case law of Bulgarian courts
The analysis of the existent case-law of Bulgarian courts suggests, first, that national courts do not distinguish clearly between rights acquired under Directive 2004/38 and under Articles 20 and/or 21 TFEU; secondly, that they do not fully apprehend the Court’s case-law; thirdly, that there is a general unease when having to address “purely internal situations”: national courts either make no mention of Articles 20 and/or 21 TFEU at all, or, conversely, refer quasi-automatically to these provisions without however fully taking into account the conditions for their application as spelled out by the Court of Justice in its case-law.
The following examples illustrate this. In Nalbandian, an Armenian adult, legally residing in Bulgaria for many years, was ordered to leave the country, because of the expiry of the duration of his residence permit. Mr. Nalbandian’s mother, who was suffering from a serious disease which required daily care, had in the meantime acquired Bulgarian citizenship. Mr. Nalbandian challenged the order before the administrative court in Dobrich. The latter rejected the action, pointing out that the applicant’s right to family life within the meaning of Article 8 ECHR was not breached since the contested order was imposed by law, was justified by the “need to protect the rights and freedoms of the others” and was proportionate in that Mr. Nalbandian’s father was residing in Bulgaria and could therefore take care of his wife. In its judgment the administrative court made no mention of EU law whatsoever. On appeal, the Supreme Administrative Court annulled that judgment on a number of grounds, one of which concerned the failure of the lower court to take account of the applicable Union law. It noted that the applicant had a continuous link with Bulgaria, where his parents live, had property in the country, had had recourse to medical services in the context of his mother’s treatment, was culturally and socially integrated and was unlikely to become a burden for the Bulgarian social assistance system. The Supreme Administrative Court also mentioned that the applicant’s father had been suffering from a heart disease. Further, it held that although the applicant’s mother, a Union citizen, had never exercised her freedom of movement, that circumstance “had no bearing on the applicability of Directive 2004/38 and Articles 20 and 21 TFEU”, a conclusion it supported by referring to the Court’s judgments in Zhu and Chen and Carpenter. In its view, by virtue of Article 3(2)(a) of the Directive, “as interpreted in the light of para. 45 of the Court’s judgment in Chen”, the Directive was applicable to Mr. Nalbandian’s situation. After mentioning that Mr. Nalbandian’s expulsion would affect “unfavourably” his mother’s family relations with her son and would also “interfere” with her right to a life of dignity and independence within the meaning of Article 25 of the Charter, the Supreme Administrative Court concluded that Mr. Nalbandian’s removal would deprive his mother of the “genuine enjoyment of the substance” of her rights as Union citizen. On the basis of these considerations, the Supreme Administrative Court found that the contested order breached Article 7 of the Charter, Articles 20 and 21 TFEU, Directive 2004/38 and Article 8 ECHR and, consequently, annulled it.
The Supreme Administrative Court’s judgment in Nalbandian is a good example of the difficulties national courts have experienced in the application of EU rules on citizenship, in particular in a purely internal situation. First, it shows a general misunderstanding of the scope of application of Directive 2004/38. Contrary to what was held in that judgment, the Directive is not applicable to a third country national who is a family member of a Union citizen that has never exercised his or her right to free movement and that has always resided in the Member State of which he or she is a national. Secondly, the judgment in Nalbandian demonstrates the practical difficulties in understanding and applying the “denial of the genuine enjoyment of the substance of a Union citizen’s rights” test. In particular, the Supreme Administrative Court did not examine the question of whether Mr. Nalbandian’s removal would lead to a situation where his mother – a Union citizen – would have to leave the territory of the Union. In that respect, the Supreme Administrative Court did not examine, for instance, whether Mr. Nalbandian was personally taking care of his sick mother, whether she was economically dependent on him, etc. Thirdly, the judgment in Nalbandian also shows the difficulties national courts face when having to apply the Court of Justice’s citizenship case-law. The Supreme Administrative Court’s referral to Zhu and Chen and Carpenter appears ill-placed. Indeed, the Nalbandian case was about a third country national member of the family of a Bulgarian national who has never exercised his right to free movement. This was thus a purely internal situation with no cross-border element whatsoever. This distinguishes this case from Zhu and Chen (which was about a national of a MS residing in another MS) and Carpenter (where there was cross-border provision of services). The Supreme Administrative Court should have rather relied on cases such as Zambrano, Dereci, Ymeraga, etc. Last but not least, it is unclear what relevance the Supreme Administrative Court attached to Mr. Nalbandian’s degree of integration into Bulgarian society or to the fact that he was unlikely to become a burden to the social assistance system. These circumstances are generally relevant in the context of Directive 2004/38 but not for the purposes of applying Article 20 TFEU in a purely internal situation.
Another example of the national courts’ misapprehension of the Court of Justice’s citizenship case-law can be found in the Singh case. Mr. Singh, an Indian national, was ordered to leave the national territory and was banned from re-entering for a period of 5 years on the ground that he was illegally residing in the country. Mr. Singh argued that he had a durable relationship with a Bulgarian citizen for over four years and had a son, who was a Bulgarian citizen himself. Mr. Singh successfully sought the annulment of the order in front of the Administrative court in the region of Sofia, which pointed out, referring to the Court’s judgment in Zambrano, that the contested order was not sufficiently motivated in that it failed to take account of the applicable Union law. It did not however discuss further the exact application of Union law in the situation at hand. The judgment was however subsequently quashed on appeal by the Supreme Administrative Court, which pointed out, first, that the Court’s judgment in Zambrano was irrelevant, since, unlike Mr. Singh, the third country national in Zambrano had entered legally the territory of the Union. Secondly, it held that Mr. Singh cannot be considered as a member of a Union citizen’s family since there was no evidence of his relationship with a Bulgarian citizen, nor did it credit the mother’s notary declaration that Mr. Singh was the father of her son since the said declaration did not respect the form required by law. Putting aside the question of whether there was sufficient evidence of Mr. Singh being a Union citizen’s family member, the interesting aspect of this judgment is the way the Supreme Administrative Court interpreted the Court’s judgment in Zambrano. That court seemed to suggest that what was decisive in that case was the fact that Mr. Zambrano had legally entered the territory of the Union and that therefore, the Court’s solution would be inapplicable in a situation where the third country national had illegally entered the EU. This understanding does not however find support in the Court’s subsequent case-law.
There is also evidence of cases where national courts did not at all discuss whether Article 20 TFEU was applicable in a “purely internal situation”. The Shishich case concerned a Bosnian national who had been living in Bulgaria for about 15 years, had a durable relationship with a Bulgarian citizen and was the father of a Bulgarian citizen. Mr. Shishich, whose family members had not apparently exercised their rights of free movement, was ordered to leave the country because he was found to be residing there illegally. The Hashani case concerned another “purely internal situation” where a Kosovo national was ordered to leave the country, despite the fact that he had a durable relationship with a Bulgarian citizen, with whom he had three minor children, also Bulgarian citizens. In neither of these cases did the Supreme Administrative Court refer to primary EU law. Instead, in Shishich it relied exclusively on Directive 2008/115 and annulled, on that ground, the contested order. In Hashani, it annulled the order on the basis of Article 8 ECHR, because it failed to take into account all the relevant circumstances of the case and was, in any event, disproportionate. Yet, in all these case the national courts should have, first and foremost, discussed the application of Article 20 TFUE and its underlying test of “denial of the genuine enjoyment of the substance of a Union citizen’s rights”.
These cases clearly illustrate that the application, at the national level, of EU primary law on citizenship, in particular in purely internal situations, is problematic. While it is true that the Court of Justice’s case law is not entirely straightforward and probably somewhat difficult to apply in practice, the failures of national courts to take due account thereof are evident.
- Acquisition and loss of Bulgarian citizenship
There could hardly be any doubt that it is for each Member State – and not for the Union – to lay down the conditions for the acquisition and loss of nationality. Nevertheless, the fact that a matter falls within the competence of the Member States does not alter the fact that, in situations covered by EU law, the national rules concerned must have due regard to the latter. Such can be the situation where an individual who had acquired the nationality of a Member State by birth, later on acquires by naturalisation the nationality of another Member State, as a result of which he loses his original nationality by reason of that naturalisation. In such a situation, if the naturalisation decision is later withdrawn with retroactive effect, that person would become stateless, which would in turn lead to his losing the status of citizen of the European Union.
This was precisely the situation in Rottmann. The applicant in the main proceedings was born in Graz (Austria) and was originally, by birth, a national of the Republic of Austria. After being heard by a criminal court in Graz in an investigation concerning him, opened on account of suspected serious fraud on an occupational basis in the exercise of his profession, which he denies, the applicant transferred his residence to Munich (Germany). Subsequently, the Austrian court issued a national warrant for the arrest of the applicant. He later applied for German nationality. However, during the naturalisation procedure he failed to mention the proceedings against him in Austria. Thus, he acquired German nationality by naturalization. This had the effect, in accordance with Austrian law, of causing him to lose his Austrian nationality. Several months later, the German authorities were informed by their Austrian counterparts of the warrant issued against the applicant. In the light of those circumstances, and after hearing the applicant, the German authorities withdrew the naturalisation with retroactive effect, on the grounds that the applicant had not disclosed the fact that he was the subject of judicial investigation in Austria and that he had, in consequence, obtained German nationality by deception. The applicant brought an action for annulment of that decision, which resulted in a preliminary reference to the Court of Justice. The latter was asked to clarify whether it is contrary to EU law, in particular to Article 20 TFUE (then 17 EC), for a Member State to withdraw from a citizen of the Union the nationality of that State acquired by naturalisation and obtained by deception inasmuch as that withdrawal deprives the person concerned of the status of citizen of the Union and of the benefit of the rights attaching thereto by rendering him stateless, acquisition of that nationality having caused that person to lose the nationality of his Member State of origin.
The Court of Justice started by noting that the Member States must, when exercising their powers in the sphere of nationality, have due regard to EU law. That proviso does not compromise the principle of international law that the Member States have the power to lay down the conditions for the acquisition and loss of nationality, but rather enshrines the principle that, in respect of citizens of the Union, the exercise of that power, in so far as it affects the rights conferred and protected by the legal order of the Union, is amenable to judicial review carried out in the light of EU law. The Court then observed that it is legitimate for a Member State to wish to protect the special relationship of solidarity and good faith between it and its nationals and also the reciprocity of rights and duties, which form the bedrock of the bond of nationality. That conclusion is also in line with the relevant provisions of the Convention on the reduction of statelessness, Article 8(2) of which provides that a person may be deprived of the nationality of a Contracting State if he has acquired that nationality by means of misrepresentation or by any other act of fraud. Likewise, Article 7(1) and (3) of the European Convention on nationality does not prohibit a State Party from depriving a person of his nationality, even if he thus becomes stateless, when that nationality was acquired by means of fraudulent conduct, false information or concealment of any relevant fact attributable to that person. That conclusion is, moreover, in keeping with the general principle of international law that no one is arbitrarily to be deprived of his nationality, that principle being reproduced in Article 15(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in Article 4(c) of the European Convention on nationality. When a State deprives a person of his nationality because of his acts of deception, legally established, that deprivation cannot be considered to be an arbitrary act. Therefore, the legitimacy, in principle, of a decision withdrawing naturalisation on account of deception remain, in theory, valid when the consequence of that withdrawal is that the person in question loses, in addition to the nationality of the Member State of naturalisation, citizenship of the Union.
However, the Court noted that the national court should ascertain whether the withdrawal decision at issue in the main proceedings observed the principle of proportionality. In that regard, and taking account of the importance which primary law attaches to the status of citizen of the Union, it is necessary to establish, in particular, whether the loss of nationality is justified in relation to the gravity of the offence committed by that person, to the lapse of time between the naturalisation decision and the withdrawal decision and to whether it is possible for that person to recover his original nationality. With regard, in particular, to that last aspect, a Member State whose nationality has been acquired by deception cannot be considered bound, pursuant to Article 20 TFUE, to refrain from withdrawing naturalisation merely because the person concerned has not recovered the nationality of his Member State of origin. It is, nevertheless, necessary to determine whether, before such a decision withdrawing naturalisation takes effect, having regard to all the relevant circumstances, observance of the principle of proportionality requires the person concerned to be afforded a reasonable period of time in order to try to recover the nationality of his Member State of origin. The Court thus concluded that it is not contrary to EU law for a Member State to withdraw from a citizen of the Union the nationality of that State acquired by naturalisation when that nationality has been obtained by deception, ”on condition that the decision to withdraw observes the principle of proportionality”.
In the context of the judgment in Rottmann, it is important to assess to what extent the rules on the acquisition and/or loss of Bulgarian citizenship reflect the implications of the particular requirements of EU citizenship. In that regard, and pursuant to the Bulgarian Citizenship Act, where Bulgarian citizenship has been acquired by naturalisation, it may be revoked if, in particular, the naturalised person has withheld any data or facts which, had they been known, would have served as grounds to refuse acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship. However, the decision to grant Bulgarian citizenship can be revoked no later than ten years after it has been granted and only if the person does not, as a result of the revocation, become stateless. The latter condition was added in February 2012, i.e. after the Court’s judgment in Rottmann. It is however unclear whether this amendment sought to give effect to the Court’s judgment. In addition, Article 24 of the Bulgarian Citizenship Act stipulates that any person who has acquired Bulgarian citizenship by naturalisation may be deprived thereof, if sentenced by an enforceable conviction for a serious offence against the Republic, subject to the condition that the said person is abroad and does not become stateless.
It thus seems that a situation like the one in Rottmann cannot arise under Bulgarian law. Moreover, by making the withdrawal of a naturalisation decision conditional upon the concerned person not becoming stateless, Bulgarian law is, in any event, in line with the principle of proportionality, as outlined in the Court of Justice’s judgment in Rottmann.
It might be premature at this stage to draw general conclusions about the state of the case law of domestic courts concerning Union citizenship. Indeed, the existing jurisprudence is patchy: it concerns only a few aspects of Union citizenship. The number of relevant cases is also unimpressive, probably due to the fact that Bulgaria has so far been spared from mass EU immigration inflows. Thus, the majority of the relevant case law concerns either the right of Bulgarian citizens to free movement, or purely internal situations.
Nevertheless, the existing case law clearly shows that Bulgarian courts are struggling to come to terms with EU citizenship law. Generally speaking, at least four groups of problems can be identified. The first one concerns the difficulties Bulgarian courts have in identifying – and distinguishing, where necessary – the scope of application of Articles 20 and 21 TFUE and that of Directive 2004/38. This is crucial, because the legal analysis that underpins each of these instruments and provisions is different. Second, Bulgarian courts have not fully apprehended the Court of Justice’s case-law on Union citizenship. This is a serious shortcoming since the interpretation given by the Court of Justice of the relevant provisions of EU primary and secondary law shed new – substantive – light on these provisions. Third, there has been widespread discomfort in domestic courts when having to tackle “purely internal situations”: Bulgarian courts have either failed to take account of Article 20 TFEU altogether, or, conversely, have referred quasi-automatically thereto without fully apprehending the conditions for its application. Last but not least, national courts seem confused as to the respective scope of application of the ECtHR and EU law and their underlying principles and rationale.
 Référendaire at the Court of Justice of the EU. The views expressed are personal. This paper is partly based on the national report submitted in the context of the XIV Congress of FIDE.
 Directive 2004/38/EC, on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States,  OJ L 158/77.
 Directive 93/109/EC, laying down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals,  OJ L 329/34.
 Directive 94/80/EC, laying down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in municipal elections by citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals,  OJ L 368/38.
 See vol. VIII (2014).
 Article 76(5) ZBLD. This article arguably applies for all types of ”offence” – criminal, administrative or other.
 Approx. 2500 EUR; Article 75(5) ZBLD, read in conjunction with Article 182, paragraph 2, point 2, а) and Article 221, paragraph 6, point 1, а) and b) of the Code of taxation and social insurance procedure.
 Article 76(3) ZBLD, later replaced by Article 75(6) of the same law, read in conjunction with §1(5) of its additional provisions.
 For a comprehensive overview of these developments, see Н. Ангелова, „Свободата на движение на българските граждани като граждани на Европейския съюз и мерките за ограничаването й (Решения на Съда на ЕС по дела С-430/10, Гайдаров и С-434/10, Аладжов, решение №2/2011 на КС и тълкувателно решение № 2/2011 на ВАС), том II (2012), стр. 163-193 и том III (2012), стр. 178-199.
 Case C-430/10  ECR I‑11637.
 Case C‑33/07 Jipa  ECR I‑5157, para 18.
 Gaydarov, paras. 24 – 27. On the substance, the Court of Justice held that national law seemed to allow the imposition of such bans solely on the basis of a previous offence without further evaluating whether the person concerned represented a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting a fundamental interest of society, which it found to be contrary to Article 27 of the directive.
 Appl. n° 46343/99.
 Appl. n° 50/02.
 Judgment n° 2 in case n° 2/2011.
 See also the opinion of judges P. Kirov and S. Stoeva, who underline the automatic character of the ban.
 See the dissenting opinion of judges D. Tokushev, K. Stoichev and V. Angusheva.
 E.g. judgment n° 15760 in case n° 9700/2012 of the Supreme Administrative Court; judgment n° 15087 in case n° 12509/2011 of the Supreme Administrative Court.
 Paras 37 and 38, ibid.
 Paras. 35 and 37, ibid.
 Para 33, ibid.
 E.g. judgment n° 7776 in case n° 8814/2012 of the Supreme Administrative Court.
 Judgment n° 11100 in case n° 4890/2011 of the Supreme Administrative Court.
 Interpretative judgment n° 2/2011 of the Supreme Administrative Court.
 Case C-249/11.
 Para. 39.
 Only Art 76(5) ZBLD, concerning bans imposed on a person who has committed an offence, while residing in another State, has been repealed.
 Article 25(2) of the Union Citizens Act.
 Article 25(1) of the Union Citizens Act.
 Judgment n° 13042 in case n° 6600/2012 of the Supreme Administrative Court. Interestingly, the person whose expulsion was ordered was a Turkish national and it was not alleged that he was a family member of a Union citizen. Yet, probably because there were doubts about his true identity, the court decided to examine, in any event, whether the requirements of the Directive were met.
 Case C-145/09  ECR I-11979.
 Eg Case C-503/09 Stewart  ECR I-6497; Case C-391/09 Runevič-Vardyn et Wardyn  ECR I-3787; Case C‑544/07 Rüffler  ECR I‑3389; Case C‑192/05 Tas-Hagen and Tas  ECR I‑10451; Case C‑224/02 Pusa  ECR I‑5763; Case C-148/02 Garcia Avello  ECR I-11613; Case C‑224/98 D’Hoop  ECR I‑6191; Case C‑184/99 Grzelczyk  ECR I‑619.
 Case C-256/11  ECR I-11315.
 Case C-60/00  ECR I-6279.
 Case C-200/02  ECR I-9925.
 Case C-86/12 , nyr.
 Judgment n° 210 from 08.12.2009 in case n° 447/2009.
 Judgment n° 15906 from 23.12.2010 in case n° 3284/2010.
 E.g. case C-256/11, Dereci, paras. 50 – 58.
 Ibid., para 66.
 Case C-87/12 , nyr.
 Case C-34/09  ECR I-1177.
 Judgment n° 56 from 27.01.2012 in case n° 1152/2011.
 Judgment n° 5699 from 20.04.2012 in case n° 2713/2012.
 See for example, the judgment in Dereci, cited at note 34 supra, para. 23 read in conjunction with paras. 59 – 69.
 Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals, OJ L 348, 24.12.2008, p. 98–107.
 Judgment n° 11056 from 05.08.2011 in case n° 13868/2010.
 Judgment n° 13422 from 19.10.2011 in case n° 14875/2010.
 Eg Case C‑179/98 Mesbah  ECR I‑7955, para 29; and Case C‑200/02 Zhu and Chen  ECR I‑9925, para 37.
 See, to that effect, Case C‑274/96 Bickel and Franz  ECR I‑7637, para 17 (as regards national provisions in the sphere of criminal legislation and the rules of criminal procedure); Case C‑148/02 Garcia Avello  ECR I‑11613, para 25 (as regards national rules governing a person’s name); Case C‑403/03 Schempp  ECR I‑6421, para 19 (as regards national rules relating to direct taxation); Case C‑145/04 Spain v United Kingdom  ECR I‑7917, para 78 (as regards national rules determining the persons entitled to vote and to stand as candidates in elections to the European Parliament).
 Case C‑135/08  ECR I‑1449.
 Article 22 of the Bulgarian Citizenship Act [Закон за българското гражданство (ДВ, бр. 136, 18.11.1998, последно изм. бр. 68, 02.08.2013)].
 ДВ, бр. 11, 07.02.2012.
 Case C-135/08, ECR I-1449.
Линк към резюмето на български език: ДОСТИГНА ЛИ ЕВРОПЕЙСКОТО ГРАЖДАНСТВО БЪЛГАРИЯ? КРИТИЧЕН ПРЕГЛЕД НА НАЦИОНАЛНОТО ЗАКОНОДАТЕЛСТВО И СЪДЕБНА ПРАКТИКА