Supervisors: prof Kalle Merusk ja prof Rait Maruste
Opponents: Euroopa Liidu Kohtu kohtunik PhD Uno Lõhmus ja riigikohtunik PhD Jüri Põld.
In Europe, arguably moving towards a "federation of nation States", citizenship is an extremely topical subject. The ultimate aim of this dissertation has been to determine whether, and to what extent the contemporary European Union Member States - with special emphasis on Estonia - have lost their exclusive power to make decisions regarding citizenship. In other words, it has examined whether the discretion of the nation States in this field - traditionally associated with statehood - has been preserved, narrowed or disappeared altogether. To achieve this aim, an examination has been made of the restrictions imposed by different layers of public law, i.e., classical international law, regional law of the Council of Europe, and supranational European Union law. The research undertaken has shown that, although as late as 2008, it was possible to conclude that citizenship matters constituted one of the very last bulwarks of State sovereignty - an area in which the impact of non-domestic law on domestic law was rather modest - the latest developments in this regard give one reasons to retreat from this assertion. Thus, contemporary European Union Member States are limited in their citizenship-related choices - to an ever-growing extent - by the restraints imposed by international human rights bodies, the review body of the European Convention on Human Rights (the European Court of Human Rights) as well as - or rather, above all - by the European Court of Justice as the guardian of European Union law. Among other things, it has been concluded at the end of this research that - in addition to the direct imposition of restrictions upon the right of States to shape their national citizenship rules - there has been an indirect narrowing of state discretion, i.e., by way of eliminating differences among the status of State citizens on the one hand and that of foreigners on the other, especially long-term residents who are not citizens of the State. This aspect of citizenship thus far, in the author's opinion, has been seriously underestimated. The hypothesis of the narrowing of State discretion especially seems to hold true in relation to the legal order of the European Union as a source of limitations on State discretion in this field. Furthermore, in the author's view, decisions rendered by the European Court of Justice in the realm of citizenship in 2010-2012 allow one to conclude - at least in terms of citizenship matters - that the European Union stands in the course of (further) federalisation. The developments analyzed in this study, therefore, should seriously be considered in the ongoing discussions on Europeanisation.