French Nationality ranks top

BANGKOK, 23 April 2018: France is the top country for ‘Quality of Nationality’ according to the third edition of the Henley & Partners’  Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index (QNI), which was announced last Friday in London.

French nationality earned a score of 81.7%, out of a possible 100%, fractionally ahead of Germany, which was knocked off the top spot for the first time in seven years, with a score of 81.6%.

While the difference in the result  between France and Germany results is relatively small, France’s comparative advantage was attributed to its greater Settlement Freedom (mainly due to the country’s former colonial empire).

Iceland and Denmark were third and fourth in the index.

Henley & Partners claims the report is the only one of its kind that objectively measures and ranks all the world’s nationalities as legal statuses through which to develop talents and business.

The UK dropped to 13th place, again failing to secure a spot in the top 10, while the US increases its position by two ranks, to reach 27th place.  The country’s relatively poor standing on the Index is primarily due to its low Settlement Freedom compared to EU member states.

China climbs two places to rank 59th, and Russia maintains its position at 63rd place on the Index. This year, the UAE has for the first time ever overtaken Israel on the QNI, now ranking 46th, with Israel in 48th position.

The Emirati nationality has climbed 13 positions over the past five years, making a significant leap forward when its holders received visa-free travel access to the Schengen Area in 2016.

Prof Dr Dimitry Kochenov, a leading constitutional and citizenship law professor and co-creator of the Index, says the key premise of the QNI is that it is possible to compare the relative worth of nationalities as opposed to simply that of states.

“In today’s globalised world, the legal status of millions of nationals extends their opportunities and desires far beyond their countries of origin: the confines of the state are simply not the limit of their ambitions and expectations.”

Based on quantifiable data derived from leading international institutions and experts, including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Air Transport Association, the QNI measures the internal value of nationality, which refers to the quality of life and opportunities for personal growth within the country of origin.

“It also measures the external value of nationality, which identifies the diversity and quality of opportunities that our nationality allows us to pursue outside our country of origin,” said Kochenov.

Its co-creator added: “ The QNI proves that one cannot possibly be correct in stating that all nationalities and passports are equally good. Some nationalities are radically better than others: being born French gives one a huge advantage over the liability brought about by a Somalian nationality, for example. With the QNI, illustrating this discrepancy becomes simple.”

The QNI shows  that it is not true that the most prosperous and economically important countries endow their citizens with the best nationalities.

“For example, China is an economic giant, its nationality has a very modest objective value, and while Liechtenstein has a micro-economy compared to that of China, its nationality is world-leading. Some nationalities are great, while others are quite simply terrible. Now, we can see which is which,” he noted.

The 3rd edition of the QNI continues to interrogate the quality of British nationality against the looming spectre of Brexit.

A ‘hard Brexit’ would see the UK losing its settlement and work rights in 30 of the world’s leading states, overwhelmingly impairing the quality of its nationality. But it could also increase tension and competition between the UK and the rest of Europe and potentially destabilize the nationalities of EU member states that had hitherto enjoyed close ties to the UK.

He argued that “both the value of European nationality overall and the value of UK nationality in particular are in gradual decline, especially in relation to faster-growing economies such as China, the UAE, and the US, whose nationalities continue to increase in value each year.”

However, the index shows Europe remains the undisputed global leader in terms of nationality quality, and emerging economies would need an entire century of unchecked success to unseat it from this position.

Notable QNI changes

Year-on-year, Georgia and Ukraine are the biggest climbers globally, rising 20 and 19 positions, respectively. The ascent of both nations can largely be attributed to the visa-waivers they signed with the Schengen Area in 2017, which significantly increased their Travel Freedom scores.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Iraqi nationality fell 15 positions — one of the biggest declines on the QNI. The nationality fell in value after visa restrictions were introduced by a large number of countries.

Examining the results of the QNI over the past five years of measurement reveals some interesting shifts. Overall, Colombia has been the highest climber since 2013, rising 50 positions and improving its value by 14.6%. By contrast, the Qatari nationality has dropped massively as a result of regional diplomatic conflicts. In fact, despite a relatively strong starting point (56th place in 2013), the Qatari nationality has dropped more significantly over time than war-torn and unstable Libya, Syria, and Iraq. Its free-fall to 87th place in 2017 represents a 31-position decrease in total since 2013.