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The Right to a Name Versus National Identity in the Context of EU Law: The Case of Lithuania

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For more content, see Review of Socialist Law.

This article examines national regulations relating to the recognition of names in official documents by focusing on Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, having particular regard to the judgment of the European Court of Justice in the case of Runevič-Vardyn and Wardyn. It also assesses the potential impact that this and other cases before the ECJ and the European Court of Human Rights may exert on national minorities. The recognition of names is not regulated in European Union law; thus, the EU member states may freely determine the usage of names in official documents, as the state language represents a constitutional value and part of the national identity of many EU member states. Therefore, only regulation of names that causes excessive interference with the exercise of freedom of movement or respect for private and family life is unlawful under EU law. This issue will also be discussed in light of Article 4(2) of the Treaty on the European Union, by which the ECJ assesses these types of interference with the EU’s duty to respect the national identities of its member states.

Affiliations: 1: Russian East European Eurasian Studies Centre (REEES), Faculty of Law, University of Graz, Graz, Austria, <>


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