Citizenship and the European Union
The idea and practice of European citizenship is relevant in two main ways
to the recent controversy in Germany over plans by the governing Social-
Democratic Party to reform citizenship law. One of these is that the
concepts of citizenship and nationality continue to be thought of as
synonymous in Germany but are now relatively distinct, both linguistically
and politically, in several other national regimes and in the European Union
(EU). Secondly, on the one hand, new German provisions will be more
similar than before to the nationality laws of other member states by
introducing a right [as opposed to a discretionary possibility] to citizenship
through residence and legal naturalization, as well as ancestry. But, on the
other, the decision on 16 March 1999 to abandon the possibility of dualcitizenship
[or, in my language, nationality] means that, in this respect, the
German approach to citizenship now runs counter to suggestions made by
some specialists about the EU as a site of democratic practice.
This paper will open with a brief discussion of the distinctiveness of
citizenship and nationality. This is necessary so that one can understand the
following section outlining EU provisions. In conclusion, this paper will
discuss some of the arguments about the prospects for EU citizenship, with
special reference to loosening the overlap between the legal label of
national identity and the normative practice of citizenship.
2. Citizenship and Nationality
As I have suggested elsewhere1, there are good grounds for treating the
overlap of citizenship and nationality as a matter of historical contingency
and not as an analytically necessary connection. In short, nationality is a
legal identity from which no rights need arise, though obligations might--
as is obvious when nationals are called 'subjects'. Conversely, citizenship
is a practice, or a form of belonging, resting on a set of legal, social and
participatory entitlements which may be conferred, and sometimes are,
irrespective of nationality--or denied, as in the case of women and some
religious and ethnic minorities, regardless of nationality.
While borders had been porous in the Middle and Late-Middle Ages and
migration normal, the strategic interests of new states lay in impregnability
and control of persons with or without leave to cross frontiers. Nationality
was an obvious criterion and proof of nationality a simple method of
verification. The process of modernization in the new states went hand in
hand with the construction of the nation. This served external and internal
purposes. It created a sense of the 'Otherness' of those who were a threat to
the strategic interests of political elites. And it fostered the loyalty or
allegiance that induced willingness to be taxed to fund the defense of the
state and to be enlisted into military service. Since 1945, allegiance is
relevant less to military purposes than to the legitimacy of redistribution
and the funding of welfare systems.2
The construction of the nation was promoted through the dismantling of
feudal bonds and their replacement by a gradual extension of legal and
political rights. So complete became the overlap between national identity
and citizenship status that, in many political systems, even those with
separate words, 'citizenship' and 'nationality' became interchangeable.
And, according to Raymond Aron, it was a contradiction in terms to see
1 Meehan Elizabeth, Citizenship in the European Union, London: Sage 1993;
Meehan, "European Integration and Citizens´ Rights: A Comparative Perspective",
Publius. The Journal of Federalism 26 (4) Fall 1996.
2 Miller, David, "In Defence of Nationality", Journal of Applied Philosophy 10, 1993,
Citizenship and the European Union
citizenship rights as capable of being guaranteed by anything other than the
state, more particularly the nation-state, and certainly not by a regime--the
EU--that was not a state at all.3
But, using 'citizenship' as a synonym for 'nationality' can result in peculiar
distortions of meaning. In late 19th century America, the Supreme Court
ruled that a woman was, indeed, an American citizen but that being a
citizen did not necessarily carry the right to vote. This empties the classical
conception of 'citizen' of part of its core meaning and the ruling makes
conceptual sense only if we substitute 'national' for 'citizen'. In other
systems, both terms are employed in legislation but as though 'nationality
and citizenship' were all one word in which the first and last components
were interchangeable. For example, except for one Article of the 1922
Constitution, it was not until 1962 that Irish official documents began to be
clear that there was a difference between citizenship as nationality and
citizenship as the capacity to exercise rights. The current British passport
still says 'Nationality: British citizen'.
However, from a longer historical perspective, we can see that citizenship
is not the same as nationality but is about enabling people to participate in
creating, maintaining and enjoying the good society, whether the people
belonging to a society inhabit a citadel, a city-state, a locality, an empire,
the world--and since John Stuart Mill and especially in Germany, the
work-place. In the young United States of America, a century before the
ruling just mentioned, and at the time of the making of the Constitution,
there was no sense of an overarching American national identity and this
did not evolve for a very long time. But there were citizenship rights, even
if undemocratic by today's standards, and the best way of protecting them
was a passionate bone of contention between The Federalists and the Anti-
Federalists. More recently, a survey of eleven European countries shows no
wholly systematic pattern of attaching nationality restrictions to legal and
3 Aron, Raymond, "Is Multinational Citizenship Possible?", Social Research 41 (4),
1974, pp. 638 -56.
social entitlements and rights to participate in politics.4 For example, the
British are aliens under Irish law but British nationals resident in Ireland
now have most of the rights of citizenship. The Irish are neither alien nor
British under United Kingdom (UK) law but, like resident Commonwealth
nationals, have always been able to exercise all the rights of citizenship. In
the EU, rules about who a state's nationals are and how that nationality
may be acquired or lost remain matters for national decision-making. For
those who have been defined as nationals of member states, EU citizenship
is about participation and the enjoyment of 'the good society' in the Union
as a whole. As noted in conclusion, the European 'good society' is
criticized as libertarian--offering private rights to individuals. But, it may
be worth noting that the preambles to its directives on social policy often
echo, if dimly, the classical conception of the 'good society' as a collective
moral order of justice and conviviality.
3. EU Citizenship
Jacques Santer described the Treaty of Amsterdam as 'set[ting] out the rules
of the game Governments will have to observe' and 'establish[ing] rights for
all the citizens'5. Union citizenship, however, came into being formally in
Article 8 of the Maastricht Treaty [agreed in 1991, operational from
November 1993]. As a personal status, it was confirmed in the Amsterdam
Treaty which also consolidates and extends citizens' and human rights--at
3.1 Rights Prior to Amsterdam
The Maastricht Treaty went some way to acknowledging criticism that the
EU did not recognize people as citizens because they were human beings but
only as workers or providers of services who needed not to lose rights when
4 Gardner, J.P.(ed.), Citizenship: The White Paper. London: The Institute for
5 European Commission, A New Treaty for Europe. Citizens´ Guide. Luxembourg
Citizenship and the European Union
moving. Under that Treaty, a citizen of the Union is anyone, worker or not,
who is a national of a member state. The Treaty took another step towards a
more universalistic justification for citizenship by referring to the relevance
to the EU of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms (ECHR). It incorporated rights to information and redress within
the common institutions, and required member states to agree upon
arrangements for certain transnational political rights--the right of a national
of any member state to be protected by the diplomatic and consular services
of another state when outside the Union and the rights to vote and stand for
office in municipal and European elections [not General Elections] wherever
they reside within the union. Though citizenship is often considered an
individualistic concept, it is notable that the Maastricht Treaty
'constitutionalized' a channel for people collectively to influence common
policies through the Committee of the Regions. Though this Committee is
sometimes judged to be a piece of window dressing, the development of
regions in Europe or, at least, 'multi-level governance' has been significant to
the strengthening of demands in parts of the UK for greater 'selfdetermination'.
I shall return to this in conclusion.
Before the notion of citizen acquired a formal political status in the
Maastricht Treaty, elements of common citizenship were already arising from
the 1957 Treaty of Rome; that is, if we accept the view of its best known
modern exponent, T. H. Marshall, that citizenship is only fully realized
through an interlocking triad of civil, political and social rights.
The goal of freedom of movement [Article 118 of the Treaty of Rome] is the
foundation for some equivalents of traditional civil rights, since elucidated in
the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice (ECJ); for example,
relating to residence, the administration of justice and ownership of
immovable property--for economically active migrants within the
Community. Almost from the outset, the ECJ established that the Treaty of
Rome gave a common legal right to individual nationals, migrant or not. This
was their right to expect, and duty to ensure, that states, including their own,
complied with Community law (van Gend en Loos v. Nederlandse
Administratie der Belastingen, Case No 26/62,  ECR 1).
European social rights are not directly redistributive. Rather, the Community
regulates entitlements [mainly for workers] in member states through legal
principles, the most important of which is non-discrimination. The principle
of freedom of movement gave rise to two Regulations outlawing nationalitybased
discrimination against migrant workers' access to insurance-based
social benefits [revised as Regulation 1408/71] and against them and their
families in other social assistance [revised as Regulation 1612/68]. Sex-based
discrimination was made unlawful in Article 119 of the Treaty of Rome
which required equal pay for men and women doing the same work. Between
1975 and the mid-1980s, five Directives followed which: widened the scope
of equal pay; extended the right of equality into other conditions of
employment; applied the principle to statutory and occupational social
security schemes; and gave comparable entitlements to self-employed
women. Another Directive, passed in 1992 under the Health and Safety
Framework, protects pregnant women workers and guarantees levels of
maternity pay and leave. Three others in the 1990s, arising from agreements
concluded through 'social dialogue', cover parental leave and leave for
family reasons, the burden of proof in cases of discrimination, and part-time
Rights not based on the non-discrimination principle include: Directives in
the 1980s on consultation over redundancy plans and protection of
employment conditions when business is transferred to another undertaking;
and others, stemming from the Single European Act of 1987, requiring
consultation and protection in situations of risk and hazard at work. The
latter, and others relating to the young and elderly, were introduced through
the 1989 Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers.
Under the auspices of Social Dialogue and the Maastricht Treaty, further
steps have been, or are being, taken with respect to working conditions [eg,
working hours, part-time contracts] and workers' rights of consultation in
transnational companies, though the latter fall short of the high standards set
Citizenship and the European Union
by the German co-determination model6. These areas are also covered by the
3.2 The Treaty of Amsterdam
The Treaty of Amsterdam does little to enhance transnational or
supranational political rights. But is does contain a number of provisions
relating to human rights and it reflects a growing realization amongst
governments, particularly those recently holding the EU presidency, that the
policy concerns of citizens need to be more systematically addressed.
Prior to the Amsterdam Treaty, there was discussion of whether the EU itself
would subscribe to the ECHR. No agreement on this could be found and a
compromise worked out by the Irish Presidency in 1996 found its way into
the final draft.7 The Treaty, which was agreed upon in June 1997, amends the
general principles of the Union, laid down in Maastricht, to focus upon
'liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and
the rule of law' (Amended Article F of Maastricht). The amended Article
affirms that rights specified in the European Convention will be respected as
principles of Community law. A new paragraph in the Preamble adds
confirmation of respect for the social rights of the 1961 European Social
Charter [an addendum to the Convention] and the Community's own 1989
Charter.8 A new Article 6a amends the Treaty of Rome to enable the EU to
take action, if it wishes, 'to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or
ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.'9
In this connection, two changes in the UK are noteworthy as an indication of
a greater willingness to play a more central role in European integration.
Soon after winning the 1997 General Election, the new Labour Government
announced that it would end the 'opt-out' from further EU social
6 Elizabeth Meehan, Ireland´s Choice to Prioritize Free Movement with the United
Kingdom over Free Movement in the European Union, Blue Paper, The Policy
Institute, Trinity College Dublin (forthcoming).
7 Insitute of European Affairs, IGC Updates, Nos 1-9, esp. no. 9 of 24.6.97, Institute
of European Affairs, Dublin 1997.
8 European Commission 1996, p.9.
9 Ibid, p. 9.
developments that the previous government had secured in the Maastricht
Treaty, thus enabling social policy to be brought into the main body of the
Amsterdam Treaty. Secondly, the government has introduced legislation to
incorporate the ECHR into domestic law--welcomed as a 'step in the right
direction', though also criticized for its limitations.10
The concrete provisions of the Amsterdam Treaty designed to buttress the
principles noted above do not extend Maastricht's primary political rights to
General Elections. But the Treaty does introduce new legal and secondary
political rights which could, depending on implementation, become
New legal and political protection includes: the entitlement of individuals to
take EU institutions to the ECJ over any action which they think breaches
their rights and new Articles [Fa in the Maastricht Treaty and 236 in the
Rome Treaty] which enable the European Council to deal with a member
state in 'serious and persistent breach' of the general principles of rights,
including suspending its voting rights.
The Amsterdam Treaty also covers the ability of citizens to influence or
participate in Union policy. For example, a Protocol on subsidiarity,11 while
mostly about the respective responsibilities of states and common institutions
stresses the need for consultation and a new Article adds openness to the need
for decisions to be taken as closely as possible to the citizen.12 Rights of
access to the documents of the Commission, Council and Parliament are reaffirmed13
and the Council is obliged to make public the record of voting on
legislation.14 Communication with citizens should be in their own language
10 Aziz, Adrienne, "Human Rights: Home at last but still found wanting", in: AUT
Bulletin, No. 211, January 1999.
11 European Commission, 1996, Chapter 9.
12 Duff, Andrew (ed.), The Treaty of Amsterdam: Text and Commentary. London: The
Federal Trust and Sweet and Maxwell 1997, p.100-109.
13 European Commission 1996, p. 94.
14 Ibid, p. 7.
Citizenship and the European Union
[new Article 8d, Maastricht].15 Individuals are protected against the misuse of
personal data [new Article 213b in the Treaty of Rome].
The Treaty aims to improve the capacities of peoples' elected representatives
to act on their behalf through more efficient arrangements for scrutiny of EU
proposals by national parliaments (ibid, Chapter 19) and by the extension,
and simplification, of the European Parliament's co-decision-making powers
vis a vis the Council of Ministers (ibid, Chapter 14). There are additional
obligations on the European Parliament to consult the Economic and Social
Committee and the Committee of the Regions (ibid, Chapter 18).
The civil right of freedom of movement is consolidated by the introduction of
a new Title III (a) into the Treaty of Rome. This lifts controls on persons
crossing borders between member states; aims to establish, over the next five
years, common standards in respect to entry at external borders, visas,
immigration and free movement for lawful residents who are nationals of
third countries, refugees and asylum-seekers; and it deals with judicial cooperation
over civil matters. In effect, this will bring the Schengen acquis and
much of the subject matter of the intergovernmental third pillar of Maastricht
[now left with police and judicial co-operation over criminal matters] into the
ambit of common policy initiation, with some role for the European Court of
Justice.16 Protocols allow derogations for Denmark, the UK and Ireland. All
three may participate in proposed initiatives if they are seen as consistent
with interests. The Danish position does not reflect opposition to the lifting of
checks but arises from its insistence that 'flanking' measures dealing with
immigration and co-operation should remain intergovernmental and be
decided upon, finally, in national parliaments. The UK does resist the lifting
of checks. Again, however, the outcome reflects something of a reorientation
towards the EU. The previous government would have vetoed 'the
communitarization of Schengen' but the new one took the view that it should
not stand in the way of what other states wanted, on the condition that it
could be exempt. The Irish negotiated similar exemptions in order to preserve
15 European Commission 1996, p.76.
16 Government of Ireland, Treaty of Amsterdam White Paper, Pn 4931, Dublin: The
Stationary Office 1998, pp. 42-47, 54-67.
the Common Travel Area between it and the UK but made its distinctive
position clear in the wording of the Protocols.17
Despite controversy prior to agreement over [un]employment and poverty,
the Amsterdam Treaty extends its scope for action in the socio-economic
sphere into two new chapters. One on employment does not intend to expand
citizens' rights but aims to coordinate national policies, under EU guidance
and monitoring, so as to achieve 'a high level of employment' and 'a skilled,
trained and adaptable workforce'.18 Rights at work, excluding pay and
industrial disputes but including consultation over proposals with the 'social
partners', are part of the subject of the chapter on social policy. This promises
further directives to improve consultation, to reduce exclusion from the
labour market [and, therefore, one source of poverty] and to make sex
equality more real. In response to an unfavorable ruling on positive action in
the ECJ (Kalanke v. Freie Hansestadt Bremen, ECJ  Case C-450/93),
the chapter explicitly authorizes measures 'to make it easier for the
underrepresented sex to pursue a vocational activity or to prevent or
compensate for disadvantages in professional careers'. Action is promised--
though mostly subject unanimous voting--on social security, conditions
when contracts are terminated, worker participation in company policy,
employment conditions for 'third country' nationals, and job creation.
Other conditions which affect the lives of citizens are also covered. Proposed
actions include: harmonized and national measures to reduce environmental
risks in general and at work, including impact assessments of all policies; the
overcoming of major health scourges and attention to the health implications
of all other policies; and consumer protection.
4. Assessments of EU Citizenship and its Prospects
Assessments of EU citizenship and its prospects are contradictory, possibly
being determined by divergent general ideological and epistemological
17 Meehan, Elizabeth, Ireland´s Choice, ibid.
18 Duff, Andrew, The Treaty of Amsterdam: Text and Commentary, London: Federal
Trust and Sweet and Maxwell 1997, pp. 59-65.
Citizenship and the European Union
outlooks. Sometimes, they seem guided by whether the commentator favors
or opposes European integration (Meehan, 1996). Sometimes, they seem to
depend on whether the analyst is a positivist who examines only what exists
concretely and compares its slightness to national provisions--but
overlooking the contrast between decades and centuries of evolution in the
EU and national systems respectively (Meehan, 1993). Conversely, other
analysts suggest that what is important is not the size but the dynamics of
change; that is, the fact that established norms have been breached at all
opens the possibility, though not the inevitability, of new paradigms.
The oldest criticism of EU citizenship starts from the limitations of the Treaty
of Rome as a basis for rights. These being restricted to the freedom of
movement of goods, capital, labor and services mean that European rights
were restricted to the 'citizen-as-worker' instead of reflecting the normative
principle that people are citizens because they are human beings. This makes
it particularly defective for women and all those not in regular, conventional
employment. Also, although ECJ jurisprudence tended to expand the scope of
rights and to limit anomalies within and across states, at least until the 1980s,
the legal instruments and enforcement procedures can make it difficult to
realize rights that are, in practice, common across the Community. It is also
argued that the evolution of European citizenship replicates in a larger arena
the physical and social exclusion of people without the right nationality.
['Third country' migrants within the Community, however, do have some
protection under the original Treaty of Rome, if they are members of a
migrant EU family or as a result of agreements between the Community and
Concerns about the narrowness of rights began to be acknowledged in the
mid-1970s, grew with the momentum of discussion of an 'ever closer union'
in the 1980s, and were reflected in the Maastricht Treaty. Though there are
positive assessments of Maastricht and prior developments, the 1991 Treaty
has been criticized for not going far enough.
All critics note that the status and, hence, rights of EU citizens continue to
rest upon nationality of a member state and that this remains a prerogative of
member state governments--though recently, the UK government was taken
to task for denying the right to vote in European elections to Gibraltarians
[British Protected Persons, until full nationality was restored to colonial
citizens earlier this year]. They also note the exclusion of General Elections
and potential derogations from provisions for municipal and European
elections. These are possible where there are specific problems, especially
questions of national identities, as in Luxembourg where the proportion of
residents from other member states is larger than elsewhere.19 O'Leary20
argues that: the pre-existing direct link [van Gend en Loos--see above]
between individuals and the centre is slight, a view reinforced by a German
ruling about the 1991 Treaty [Manfred Brunner and others v. The European
Union Treaty , Cases 2 BvR 2134/92 and 2159/92  1 CMLR 57];21 the
new voting rights are little more than reciprocal arrangements which could
exist, and sometimes do, irrespective of union; and that it will be difficult in
practice to use the right to diplomatic and consular protection by other
member states. Curtin and Meijers22 identify hypocrisy on the part of member
state governments, except Denmark and the Netherlands, in their ostensible
intention to enhance rights to information. Member states' restrictive
applications of these measures to information about border policies reinforce
at a European level the 'closure' effects of citizenship on people from
outside.23 In the social field, the Commission's capacity to expand a
regulatory regime of rights is restricted to what it may opportunistically
19 Closa, Carlos, "Citizenship of the Union and Nationality of Member States", in
Common Market Law Review, no. 32, 1995, pp.487-518.
20 O´Leary, Siofra, "The Relationship between Community Citizenship and the
Fundamental Rights in Community Law", in: Common Market Law Review, no.
32, 1995, pp.519-544.
21 See also Harmsen, Robert, Integration as Adaption: National Courts and the Politics of
Community Law, Paper presented at the Annual Conference of Political Studies
Association of Ireland 1994.
22 Curtin, Deirdre; Meijers, Herman, "The Principle of Open Government in Schengen
and the EU: Democratice Retrogression", in: Common Market Law Review no. 32
1995, pp. 391- 442.
23 See also Kostakopoulou, Dora, "Is there an Alternative for Schengenland ?", in
Political Studies, no. 46 (4), 1998, pp.886-902.
Citizenship and the European Union
introduce in a context of a reluctant Council of Ministers.24 Critics of
Maastricht also stress the limitations of local partnership, regional
subsidiarity and the status, powers and budget of the Committee of the
Regions. Such criticisms would need to be met if the Amsterdam Treaty is,
indeed, to live up to its promise outlined by Jacques Santer.
So far there has been a cautious welcome for the Amsterdam Treaty. Positive
views (eg, Oreja, 18.6.97; IEA, 24.6.97) have been expressed about: the
adoption of strong normative principles of rights; the new basis for
combatting more forms of discrimination; the procedures for dealing with
infringements of rights; the inclusion of the Employment Chapter; the
references to reducing exclusion; and the proposal to set standards for 'third
country' nationals at work and in free movement. The Treaty's references to
national and Union representative bodies goes a little way towards
Chryssochoou's insistence that 'democratic deficits' need to be addressed on
both planes if the experience of citizenship is to be realized in full.25 On the
other hand, the Commission itself reflects some of the concerns of voluntary
organisations by regretting the limitations of social policy. It also notes that
'the institutional system is not yet entirely equal to the challenges' and regrets
the opaqueness of the Treaty's text (Oreja, 18.6.97). Moreover, 'under many
... headings, ... the provisions may be criticized as being general rather than
specific and aspirational rather than tangible' (Institute of European Affairs,
But, as a foil to criticisms of the limitations of Maastricht, there is an
alternative assessment of EU developments which can be applied equally to
Amsterdam. For example, Weiner argues that citizenship, including 'access'
and 'belonging' as well as rights, has never been static or uniform. She
identifies in the history of integration confluences of policy imperatives and
24 Mazey, Sonia, "The Development of EU Policies: Bureaucratic Expansion on
Behalf of Women ?", in Public Administration no. 73 (4) 1996, pp.591-609.
25 Chryssochoou, Dimitris, "Democratic Theory and European Integration: the
Challenge of Conceptual Innovation", in Smith, Hazel (ed.), New Thinking in
Politics and International Relations, Canterbury 1996, pp. 20-33.
the interests of key political actors which have created breaches in nationstate
experiences of citizenship and opportunities for new paradigms and
In her account, the regulation of social rights and relations between
Community institutions and the 'social', local and regional 'partners' [predating
Maastricht] are part of 'access' and 'belonging'. The period of
acceleration towards union is, in Weiner's account, a time of discernible
movement in the paradigm of citizenship, containing the seeds of new
practice in the activation of rights. In particular, markets and migration make
'place', as well as nationality, the conceptual and practical pre-condition for
triggering legal, political and social entitlements. This could become
significant not only for nationals of member states but also for lawfully
resident 'third country' migrants, as seems to be beginning in Amsterdam.
Even if early reactions to the Amsterdam Treaty are guarded, the movement
reflected in it seems to vindicate O'Keefe's view that '[t]he importance of the
TEU [Maastricht] citizenship provisions lies not in their content but rather in
the promise they hold out for the future. The concept is a dynamic one,
capable of being added to or strengthened but not diminished'.27 The same
can be said, in turn, about Amsterdam. Moreover, the EU's ability to sustain
its dual claim of being 'for its citizens' while also 'respect[ing] the national
identities of its Member States' depends upon such dynamism.28
All stories of rights, however, depend on what people make of them. If they
are to result in real redistribution of power or influence, much depends on the
ability of civil society 'to seize the day'. Closa sees more potential, in
principle, in supranational than national arenas for democratic citizenship. In
practice, he suggests however, that European civil society may be too fragile
to transform EU citizenship into an arena for democratic self-determination
26 Weiner, Antje, Building Institutions: The Developing Practice of European
Citizenship, Ottawa: PhD Thesis, Carleton University 1995.
27 Chryssochoou, p. 30.
28 European Commission, 1997, p.5.
Citizenship and the European Union
from what he calls an enhanced set of private rights to make the most of new
market opportunities [or be sheltered a little from its threats].29
His argument rests on a critique of the case that a shared national identity is a
pre-condition for citizenship. For, by insisting that citizenship can be built
only on such bonds, such theories propose that a democratic practice be based
on a commonality that was formed under pre-democratic conditions. In
contrast, a site of democratic citizenship is one in which people live together
under a set of principled bonds, such as those identified by Robert Dahl as
voting equality, effective participation, enlightened understanding, control of
agendas and inclusiveness. In drawing this contrast, Closa suggests that
supranational citizenship is less vulnerable than national citizenship to
charges of exclusion and discrimination because, being unable to draw on
comparable non-principled bonds, its success must depend on democratic and
human rights norms.
Dahl, of course, is a citizen of that country which I mentioned earlier where
democratic norms and ties [albeit defective] preceded national bonding. In
contrast, Britishness was forged by elites, prior to democracy, to make bonds
between peoples who had been enemies of one another. It worked for some
centuries, in the context of different sub-state national identities, as principled
bonds were grafted on to the pre-democratic unifications. But the fragility of
the origins is re-emerging and there are claims, at least in Scotland, and to
some extent, Wales, which support Closa's case; that is, that, from a
democratic basis, a new union of principled norms can be negotiated at the
supranational level--the EU.
The idea that a multi-state supranational union may be preferable to union
with a single neighbour arises from experience among the component peoples
of the UK in trying to make what Closa calls their private EU rights have
public consequences. That is, people--not only nationalists but also
29 Closa, Carlos, "European Citizenship, Mulitculturalism, and the State", in Ulrich
Preuss/Ferran Requejo (eds.), European Citizenship, Multiculturalism, and the
State, Baden-Baden: Nomos-Verl.-Ges. 1998; Closa, "Supranational Citizenship
and Democracy: Normative and empirical Dimensions", in: M. Torre (ed.),
European Citizenship: An International Challenge, Kluver Law International 1998.
advocates for their regions--whose material interests are enhanced by
learning to use EU partnership opportunities are trying to redefine their
relationship to the domestic state in a European context, to bring about new
forms of mobilization and interaction, and to influence agendas. But, again in
line with Closa's theoretical case, unification into the British state left civil
society institutions intact, especially in Scotland and Northern Ireland and,
hence, in a position to try either to improve the principled bonds of the
British state or to negotiate new ones in a different arena.
Closa is guarded about whether there is a strong enough civil society in the
EU to transcend the defects of national citizenship in order to bring about the
benefits of a regime based on principled bonds--without a willingness on the
part of states themselves to agree to stop trying to maintain the impression
that anxieties about national identities are well attended to in EU provisions.
The changes which he suggests are necessary and include the avoidance of
derogations and exemptions which 'offer shelter to communitarian
understandings of the relationship between individuals and the state
premissed on nationality'; 'the full constitutionalization of a European
political status'; greater opportunities for direct citizenship participation in
EU affairs; stronger commonality and reciprocity of rights in different
member states; and willingness by states to respond to 'spill-over' pressures
from EU citizenship status on to varying nationality laws, including greater
willingness to acknowledge dual or multi-nationality.30 Something of the last
is beginning to happen. Some 'spill-over' can be seen in Germany's intention
to proceed with allowing citizenship through naturalization as well as
ancestry, if not in its abandonment of making dual-citizenship legal. The ECJ
is playing a role. The UK and Gibraltarians was mentioned above. Another
case was about a person with dual-nationality--of a member state and a third
country. The ECJ rejected another member state's claim to be free to
recognise only the third country dimension and, hence, to deny rights.
If Closa is right about the weakness of European civil society, as a whole, in
combatting a privatized, liberal or libertarian conception of citizenship, then
30 Closa, Carlos, ibid.
Citizenship and the European Union
enlargement may reinforce the challenge. The prospective member states,
while having to subscribe to principles of liberty, democracy and human
rights as a condition of entry are not well placed to do so in practice--
emerging as they are from totalitarianism which suppressed civil society or
bent it to the will of the state. At a conference during the 1998 UK
presidency, harrowing tales were told of the vulnerability of emergent civil
society associations in the Balkans and of discrimination against minorities in
east and east-central Europe. With or without minority problems, the concept
of liberty--perhaps necessitated by dire economic conditions--is, even more
libertarian than that which Closa sees in the EU. It is the negative one of
'freedom from' restraint--not the 'freedom to' which is implicit in Christian-
and social-democracy and still has some place in the link in the EU model
between social inclusion and economic progress. The point to be drawn here
is not about the addition of more nationalities, either per se or in their further
reduction of the overlap between nationality and citizenship. It is that
growing mismatches amongst sets of principled bonds, not a more complex
collection of pre-democratic identifications, may inhibit the transformation of
EU citizenship along the lines aspired to by Closa.
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