A lovely vacation in Spain and a surprise call from a former work colleague got me thinking:  How difficult is it to obtain EU citizenship?  I investigated and got some good news.  I needn’t spend time learning a member country language, in my case:  Italian.  Heck, I could even forego the tedious task of filling out all those bureaucratic forms.

Italy and the EU are not interested.

First let me recount that surprise call.  My friend, “Joe”, phoned to say that he was traveling to Ireland on a genealogical expedition.  His goals?  To prove that his grandmother was born there and to find the documentation to back it up.  With such proof in hand, not to mention with the help of his many EU business and family connections, Joe planned to apply for Irish citizenship.  I asked him how this was possible and Joe pointed me to that font of all information:  Google.

Said repository-of-all-knowledge suggested I visit various sites, all, coincidentally, with better than average SEO.  To summarize my findings, there appear to be four basic ways of obtaining EU citizenship:

  1. Citizenship by Descent– If one has a parent or grandparent who was a citizen of an EU country and meets certain conditions one may become a citizen of that country.
  2. Naturalization– One must obtain a residence permit (“green card”) in an EU country and meet the time and other requirements needed to become a citizen by naturalization.
  3. Citizenship by Investment–  One makes a qualified investment in an EU country and, in return, the country grants the investor citizenship.
  4. Citizenship by Exception– An EU member country government body (parliament, the Prime Minister, the President, etc.) has the power to grant a person citizenship, often based on exceptional merits.

Options 2-4 were out of the question.  That left only Option 1.  Since my grandfather was born in Italy and because Italy allows descendants of Italian born grandparents to submit citizenship claims, I thought I might find the EU citizenship door to be slightly ajar.

I thought so, that is, until King Victor Emmanuel III slammed it in my face.

Who knew that my great uncle, Victor may have been named after a king?  Heck, I had no idea that early twentieth century Italy was still a monarchy.  Unfortunately, Uncle Sam knew, and he required that my grandfather (and other Italian immigrants of the time) renounce all allegiance to VE III.  Gramp had formally relinquished his Italian citizenship . . . and, with it, my dream of owning a small retirement villa by the seaside in O Grove, Galicia. His pledge of allegiance to the United States of America and his later work for its government were deal killers as far as Italy was concerned.

Oh well.  EU never know until you try.

Peter Dragone - Co-founder of Keurig.