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Linguistic Integration Test and Federalism: A Comparative Analysis

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A good number of European states have introduced legal provisions providing for integration tests for migrants: knowledge of the host state’s language and civic values are required during all stages of a migrant’s stay, either as a precondition for entry or as a criterion for remaining on the state’s territory. In those states where a common nationwide language exists, the choice of the language utilized for the measurement of integration is unproblematic. However, things are different in multinational countries or in countries with national linguistic minorities, where several languages enjoy an official status, according to criteria based upon territorial subdivision. In such cases, subnational units where national minorities are settled may enforce measures with the aim of compelling immigrants to learn the local language rather than the national one. I brand such developments “cultural regional citizenship”. On the basis of a comparative analysis that takes into account the cases of Italy, Spain and Belgium, this article considers how the issue is influenced by intergovernmental relations between national and subnational jurisdictions, on the one hand, and the protection of fundamental rights and the proportionality principle, on the other.

Affiliations: 1: Sociology and Social Science Department, Trento University via Verdi 26, 38122 TrentoItaly


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