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A Study On The European Citizenship Politics Essay

Info: 5483 words (22 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in Politics

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Citizenship is not an essence but a historical construction. The idea of European Union citizenship was first acknowledged in the Maastricht Treaty, which was signed in 1991 and came into effect in 1993. European patriotism and identity obviously draw on the concept of European citizenship. The complicated nature of European collective identity and the different collective identities of European nations eventually link the process of common identity-building to the legal formation of a European citizenry and the distribution of rights and duties guaranteed for citizens by European law (Von Beyme, 2001). Today, citizenship has moved to the forefront of political debates in many European countries as well as the European Union institutions, and it has become a volatile policy area where change is dynamic and continuous even if the citizenship laws remain robust to major changes mainly due to the friction between the nation state and supranationalism in terms of political sovereignty.

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While Maastricht Treaty establishes Union citizenship for every person holding the nationality of a Member State; the Amsterdam Treaty addresses this issue by adding that “Citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship” (Treaty on European Union Article 8, February 7, 1992). There is a problematical area which the European Charter on Fundamental Rights will not overcome: the citizenship is merely a derived condition of nationality, while certain fundamental rights are based on a mixture of various criteria other than citizenship or nationality alone. Even if the Charter on Fundamental Rights in the European Union adopted as a legally binding instrument with EU law, it will not change anything in this direction and this dilemma will remain to exist. An important problem of the current formulation of European Union citizenship is that it is not defined as an autonomous concept in Community Law at the supranational level, but defined exclusively by the applicable member state legislation for granting of nationality only at the national level. From the perspective of the legal aspects of citizenship, EU citizenship might be characterized as a derived condition of nationality simply because there is no Community competence to set up its own criteria for defining nationality or citizenship, thus the formal European identity.

The conception of European citizenship is one of the mechanisms that the integration process generates for further deepening of the Union. After several rounds of enlargements and accession of more than ten new member states in the last decade, the European integration project must focus its efforts on deepening its structures and organization rather than enlargement especially at a time of fast globalization. Today, Europe is in need of defining the borderlines of European citizenship which cannot be constructed by a model built on the nation state principles. Although the identity building stage for peoples of the European Union is similar to the process of national identity building; the EU citizenship shall be comprehended and structured as a whole different entity than national citizenship. Today, the European society is in trouble because of the unclear definition of the EU citizenship and common European identity, or the unhealthy practice of European citizenship through nation state based models in the integrated Europe of our day.

So far, the prospects of a common European citizenship have been basically failure when it comes to practice and the reason is that European citizenship is incorrectly formulized to serve the aims of national interests rather than the supranational institutions of the European Union. The ultimate attempt of the European Commission to consolidate political integration through a Constitutional Treaty in the year 2005 was rejected by citizens of France and the Netherlands. The public opinion indicates that most citizens in Europe are not eager to become citizens of Europe they are not willing to shift their sovereignty, political allegiance and identities from the national to the supranational level (Bauböck, 2006). The results of successive editions of the Eurobarometer suggests that European political identity is weak and there is a great variation across EU member states, while in most EU countries only a very small percentage of people around five percent declare having an exclusive European identity while up to fifty percent do not have any sense of European identity (Gubernau, 2001: 176). Indeed, Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 makes it clear that “citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship” and that “the Union shall respect the national identities of its member states”. Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty of the European Union: Article 1, October 2, 1997). Therefore, Community law does not recognize any authority of the Union in determining its own citizens (Bauböck, 2006). Instead, the current legislation suggests that the European Union citizenship is simply derived from national member state citizenship, which is highly problematic to serve the jurisdiction of the European Union institutions.

Before the enlargement of 2004 which resulted with ten new member states joining the EU, the European Commission identified three priorities for the EU which highlighted “giving full content to European citizenship” (European Commission, 2004). In 2006, the second phase of the “EU Programme to Promote Active European Citizenship” was launched. The concept of a European citizenship incorporating shared values and a sense of belonging to the European Union in addition to legal rights were officially acknowledged by the Programme. However, today the European Union citizenship is increasingly challenged in domestic politics and may eventually become a source of conflict between member states, if it has not become an important area of intra-tension yet. Recent European experiences suggest that natural and spontaneous convergence among EU member states towards cosmopolitan liberal norms is no longer a reasonable expectation. Almost two decades after creating a citizenship of the Union, it shall be the time that European policy-makers take the initiative of introducing common European standards for the citizenship laws of the member states to create an active and functioning European Union citizenship. Although this does not require imposing a single European citizenship law, the process might start with an open method of coordination and could result in an authority of EU law to regulate those aspects of national legislation that violate principles of European solidarity or result in discrimination and exclusion of third-country nationals (Bauböck, 2006: 6). Furthermore, problems exist at the supranational governance level as the European Parliament is the primary legislative body of the European Union but it is not a sovereign legislative body. …. After all, the EU citizenship has unfortunately remained a metaphor with some added value to it until today. The European Union citizenship in order to practically exist needs direct effect of Community law in order to become e a genuine source of rights for citizens of Europe.

Although Europe gave birth to the nation state system and the Europeans are creators of the idea of citizenship; peoples of the European Union are in desperate need of making an up-to-date definition of the EU citizenship today. The “Classical Model of Citizenship”, also known as the “National-Political Citizenship”, is a product of Europe in the context of the classical European nation state. One major problem in today’s Europe is that this model is crumbling and no more capable of providing a complete comprehension of citizenship in the integrated Europe under our day’s dynamic conditions. The Classical Model applies to two types of nation state formations in Europe: the republican or civic model supported by France or the nationalist or ethnic model supported by Germany and the Eastern European states. Although the French model, also adopted by the Americans, focuses on the political qualities of culture and the German model focuses on the ethnical qualities as major elements; both include the concept of nation, in other words people on a certain territory with certain rights and liberties as their main element. However, the strict attachment to territory when defining citizenship is no more applicable under today’s European Union conditions; as free movement within the Union is established in recent years. On the other hand, the rights and liberties given to the increasing immigrant population and ethnic groups are questioned as the main factors of inconsistency, distress and tension in the socio-political life in Europe today. After all, the European Union is not a nation-state; it entails a whole different type of organization, a supranational entity above the level of member nation-states. If the EU is imagined as a large nation state, then its cultural politics stays on the top-bottom line as elitist discourse “to create Europeans” (Strath, 2000) and do not touch social identities of the people, except Euro-bureaucrats only (Shore, 2000). Nonetheless, today the EU citizenship rights are derivative of national citizenship and currently they do not form a compelling basis for an active European citizenship of participation (Delanty, 2000a: 83, Bauböck, 2006). On the other hand, to what extent EU citizenship departs from the nation-state norms of citizenship remains the question.

The European integration has a positive impact on the decline of nation states as they begin to share their sovereignty for building a supranational entity which entails an economical as a well as a political unification of Europe. However, the “National-Political Citizenship Model” is out of date with the formation of today’s integrationist Europe. European nation states are breaking down as they face with drastic changes driven by diverse outcomes of globalization, such as heterogeneous multicultural structure and free movement within the European Union which challenge the territory principle of the nation state structure. In Scholte’s words, “contemporary governance is multilayered; it includes important local, substate regional, suprastate, regional, and transworld operations alongside and intertwined with national arrangements” (Scholte, 2000: 143). An important consequence of these shifts is that governance has become more fragmented and decentralized. Globalization has accelerated the efforts for building European citizenship by creating gaps in effective governance at national level and refocusing attention on problems best dealt with at the sub-national or supra-national level (Rumford, 2003). Therefore, one can conclude that globalization has opened up the field of European governance. As a result, the new supranational state organization in Europe does not allow powerful nation states of the 20th Century to exist, and therefore the Classical Model of Citizenship which relies on the nation-state structure simply needs to be changed or reconfigured under today’s circumstances.

The present formulation of European Union citizenship has failed to establish a direct connection between the citizenry and the European Union institutions, without ties to the nation state. In the literature of liberal democracy, citizenship is meant to empower citizens of a state to hold governments accountable. In this respect, Union citizenship hardly satisfies democratic aspirations (Bauböck, 2006). Bauböck argues that the true value of being a citizen of the European Union lies not in rights one has towards the institutions of the Union, but in rights towards the other member states as the Union citizenship extensively prohibits national governments from discriminating against the citizens of other EU states (Bauböck, 2006: 1).. After all, there is a broader aspiration to promote relationships between the Union and European people which are to be more direct and substantial than they were in the past and which are less intervened by the member states. Almost a decade after the EU citizenship was introduced, the European Commission had confessed that “EU citizens have little in the way of a European political consciousness and are not given much encouragement nor facility to engage in a consistent political dialogue with European institutions” (European Commission, 2001:7). Therefore, Europeanists also believe that EU citizenship is also important for the future of the Union as it entails an enhanced relationship between the EU and its citizens which in turn will increase effectiveness and efficiency of European institutions, reducing the EU’s democratic deficit while increasing the Union’s political legitimacy.

Meanwhile, the European citizenship has been a rather insignificant area of law and source of rights so far, after nearly two decades it had been introduced into the Community Law. In practice, the concept of EU citizenship has been used with an intention to close up certain gaps of free movement issues within the European land. The legal rights associated with citizenship of the Union are to travel and reside anywhere in the EU; to vote and to stand for election in municipal and European elections in the member state of residence, regardless of nationality; to have consular protection by the consulate of another member state while outside the EU; to petition the European Parliament and apply to the European Ombudsman (Consolidated Treaty of Rome Articles 18-22). Based on general principles of the Community law, specifically the principle of non-discrimination having direct effect, an extension of the substance of citizenship to third-country nationals who have legally lived within the boundaries EU for a long time; and the issues that correlate with the interrelation between rights and duties remain as a question (Reich, 2001).

Deviating from the past trend towards liberalization, there are numbers of countries, such as Greece, Denmark, and Austria, where restrictive citizenship laws have been either retained or further advanced largely due to the growing trend of external migration to the Union. The Netherlands, which used to have a liberal naturalization policy for immigrants, is the most dramatic example of a turnabout of citizenship policy. Furthermore, citizenship tests were introduced in Germany, Denmark, Greece, Austria, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in addition to the widespread requirement of learning the dominant language, these tests include questions about the country’s history, constitution, and everyday culture which almost require university level education for immigrants in order to become citizens (Bauböck, 2006: 5). While language skills are universally accepted as useful for social as well as political integration for immigrants seeking citizenship, the usefulness of the largely implausible questions asked in citizenship tests raise doubts. This new approach in European Union member states to naturalization reminds of exclusionary ethnic conception of citizenship as the new naturalization policies emphasize integration as a precondition for citizenship and they define integration as an individual achievement rather than a structural condition of equal rights and opportunities. Although citizenship is no longer attached to ethnic identities in today’s Europe, it cannot be accepted as a tool for integrating societies which have heterogeneous origins.

Today, the current formulation of the EU citizenship has three main features. First, it is not autonomous and genuine as it is derived from member state citizenship; second, it cannot establish a direct link between the European Union and its citizens without ties to the national level; and third, in practice it only gives free access to other member states for European citizens within the boundaries of the Union, and does not provide more. Moreover, it is a source of inequality and exclusion for Europeans. Some European Union member states may give national citizenship to immigrants in three years while another state can call for ten years of residence; thus there is no standards for becoming a European Union citizen for immigrants as the Union citizenship is merely connected to national citizenship. On the other hand, current policies do not serve as a unifying factor at the supranational level but remain merely connected to the national level as immigrants who move frequently between different member states of the EU while staying within the territories of the Union for an overall long period of time cannot become European Union citizens, because citizenship policies still operate at national level which does not only harm the unity of European society but also embarrass European Union by proving it as an ineffective political entity. In fact, nearly all European states require a certain period of continuous residence in their national territory rather than the territory of the European Union as a condition for naturalization according to their natural laws. Theoretically, the EU citizens have the right of free access to employment in other member states of the Union. However, this right has been temporarily suspended in some member states for the citizens of countries that have recently joined the EU which introduced a “temporary form of second-class citizenship” within the Union that is hard to reconcile with the basic commitment to free movement and non-discrimination on grounds of nationality among the European Union citizens (Bauböck, 2007: 459).Therefore, one may conclude that there is a great inconsistency between the aims of the European Union citizenship and its current formulation due to the tension between national and supranational levels and the fact the EU citizenship is not genuine and remain merely a derivation from natural citizenship policies.

There are different ways of responding to these problems and all entail a new formulization of European Union citizenship. A radical solution would be to turn the relation between supranational and national citizenship upside down, so that the former determines the latter (Bauböck, 2006). This would propose a federation for the European Union and there is not much political support among European citizens as well as governments for building such a European federation. The alternative remains to be to hope for a spontaneous convergence of national citizenship policies from below; which experience suggests that is not realistic to expect anytime soon. Many national reforms have moved in similar directions over the past decades, but it would be rather optimistic to believe that member states are willing to change their laws in order to avoid burdening other states with immigration problems or in order to secure roughly equal conditions for access to citizenship across Europe (Bauböck, 2006).

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Rainer Bauböck (2007) summarizes three major approaches to future European Union citizenship: The statist approach, the unionist approach and the pluralist approach. The statist approach view the European Union in as progressing towards a federal state, and suggests federal norms of citizenship such as the example of the United States for the EU citizenship. The unionist approach aims to strengthen citizenship of the Union by making it more inclusionary for the Europeans. It is different from the federal modal in terms that it seeks to emancipate EU citizenship from member-state citizenship rather than integrate the latter into the former. The pluralist approach seeks to apply general norms of democratic legitimacy at both supranational and national levels and to balance these concerns where they may coincide or conflict. Although this approach is not primarily committed to strengthening the EU citizenship by weakening member state citizenships; it is reformist in promoting a more consistent conception of multilevel citizenship which can be applied to the EU under today’s conditions. The statist, in other words Federal approach has only few advocates and involves substantial departure from the path the European Union has been following until today which makes it a non-feasible solution. The Unionist approach has many advocates among Europeanists and immigrant populations; but in larger civil society it still remains a marginal proposition for European politics. Finally, the pluralist approach is the most feasible solution for European Union citizenship, but still it is too ambitious to have any chance of adaptation in the near future (Bauböck, 2007). After all, all three approaches propose different paths for European citizenship but they share a commitment to Union citizenship and they are opposed to Euroskeptic nationalist or intergovernmental perspectives on EU citizenship.

In the general literature, In the general literature, there are several alternative formulations other than the Classical Model of Citizenship which may serve as basis for a common European Union citizenry.Revised National Citizenship Model is a new approach to citizenship; it is basically a version of the national-political model of citizenship which is arguably updated to today’s conditions in Europe. Indeed, this model is probably the most commonly practiced citizenship model by the European states today, which simply took place of the classical model or mixed with the classical model due to change of the environment in Europe. Although this model supports openness in terms of a potential of citizenship for resident non-citizens, political rights are not given to the non-citizen residents which is central to discussion to overcome the potential problems in Europe centered in minority issues. Therefore, this model does not seem to provide a solution for the European Union citizenship in today’s circumstances as it has already been largely practiced in parts of Europe. Finally, although the revised model makes it easier for non-citizen residents to earn citizenship rights while it simultaneously closes the doors for newcomers by establishing effective control over borders. The model makes it even harder to migrate into a country in any legal status which would decrease the non-citizen resident population. Most states in Europe such as England and Germany which are regarded as the hardest countries to earn citizenship; empower this model rather than the classical model today, to create a solution for their migration problems.

The Post National Citizenship Model is the most complex, revolutionary and appropriate model for the future of European integration. Habermas, as a well-known European constitutionalist and pro-integrationist who comes from a republican nation state tradition, puts a lot of emphasis on civil rights and liberties while his arguments center on the idea of constitutional patriotism. The main argument is that Europe needs a public sphere, a public opinion and a political culture to create a common identity but the values used in creation of this singular European identity should not be ethnic or nationalist values and solely political elements of culture (Habermas, 1994). Ratification of a European Constitution would provide the easiest way to achieve these values to create a single European identity, which definitely cannot be created with ethnic or nationalist elements, which should remain as secondary identities. On the other hand, Habermas argues that further enlargement of the EU will make integration even more difficult and the deepening of European Union is more important than its widening policies under today’s conditions (Habermas, 2005). Finally, the newcomers are seen as a risk for the model of citizenship and the future of Europe because they must adapt to the European political culture or they will surely pose a threat to the democratic system of the state. Habermas concludes that a resident non-citizen should be entitled as a citizen only when being a part of the European political culture by building positive relations with the majority of the society and by being schooled in the educational system of the host country to for full adaptation (Habermas, 1994).

On the contrary, Yasemin Soysal uses a different perspective while discussing the Post National Citizenship Model. The main argument which lies at the heart of the debate is that the human rights are more important than political rights because citizens are individuals which raise the importance of human rights (Soysal, 2000). The key point here is the fact that, although political rights are highly related to the nation state structure, the human rights are not related to the development of nation-state thus they are independent from a nation-state based citizenship model. Massive decolonization, the rise of transnational agencies, the emergence of multilevel politics and most importantly, increasing immigration after the Second World War are four developments that created the historical background for the rise of human rights in Europe in last fifty years. In Today’s Europe, boundaries of citizenship are fluid, multiplicity of membership and universal personhood exist which are basic characteristics of the Post-National Citizenship Model. As a result, the post-national citizenship model is compatible with today’s European Union, as it does not count on national borders and only universal characteristics rather than national ones. Therefore, post national citizenship model suits well with the concept of a European citizenship, not created by ethnic, national or religious elements of culture but the political culture, as it was also argued by Habermas (1994, 2003).

On the other hand, there is a counter-argument about the possible success of the Post-National Model application in Europe. The critical argument made by Soysal is that the rising trend of human rights creates a paradox, which lays as the main reason behind the increasing minority violence events across Europe. Soysal asks in today’s environment of emphasized civil rights and post national individualism, how are particularistic identities affected, given the rise of human rights, particularistic identities such as ethnical, religious and national identities rise simultaneously (Soysal, 2000). The conclusion is that the Post National Citizenship Model sits on top of the paradox; civil rights and particularistic identities rise simultaneously as increasing liberties prepare grounds for expressing these identities. Although human rights are rising for the privileged citizens, not each and every individual in a society such as immigrant minorities in France has full access to human rights because they remain as non-citizen residents, outsiders to the culture and this causes the creation of socio-economical inequality. On the other hand, when these groups are given cultural rights under today’s conditions without the establishment of necessary economic and social integration; the outcomes may be further expression of particularistic identities which will again create a threat to the social system.

The rise of cultural rights is a crucial issue in the post national debate. Cultural rights are defined as an issue of human rights; the issue is related to group rights rather than individual rights in the post-national context (Taylor, 1999). For example the minority violence events on European streets can be understood by observing the rights of these groups of people who are all resident non-citizens and who all don’t have national political rights; and it is important that all are group actions instead of individual actions. Cultural rights of these groups are crucial in a multicultural post-national Europe, and most of the social tension centers on the issue that how much cultural rights should the minority groups have in the context of an integrated Europe rather than a nation state structure. What makes these people different than European Union citizens in the cradle of democracy is the fact that majority rules in democracies and minorities are excluded from the system as a sacrifice simply because democracy is a majority system.

On the other hand, in democracies, minorities have belief in the system because they have hopes to be a part of the majority and thus the ruling class one day and that’s how the mechanism of democracy works. However, these minority groups in EU member states seemed to lose their hopes of having political rights, or becoming citizens in other words; thus they pose a threat for the democratic system under today’s national-political citizenship model as Habermas also argues (1994). As these minority groups were left outside by segregation in Europe, and they have no political rights as resident non-citizens; the expression of their adaptation problems turned out to be attacks against the social and democratic structure in the country. These are all problems caused by the crumbling model of classical citizenship and post-national citizenship idea would bring solutions to most of these problematic areas. Immigrant minority groups in Europe would have citizenship rights that would integrate them into the democratic system and give them the chance to be represented, which will provide these groups hope and trust in democracy. As a result, violence on streets would be prevented because these groups would have the chance to fight for their rights in the democratic arena rather than the streets. The integration of non-citizen minority groups will give pace to the deepening process of Europe and it should be achieved before further widening which would slow down the integration in Europe by adding more complexities (Habermas, 2000).

Cultural rights and cultural policy is another important area of tension in the debate of a European Union citizenship. In the Classical Nation state, or Liberal Model in other words, which is exercised by most European states today, public and private are two distinct and clearly separated realms (Habermas, 2003). Cultural rights can be exercised in the private area of life while public area is kept neutral and ethnic or cultural signs are kept out strictly. In France, people are asked not to wear even cross as a symbol of Christianity in the public area, however one can see women wearing headscarf in public in Paris; so the picture is mixed and complex. Taylor argues that this clear separation of public and private spaces aimed by the Liberal model cannot be achieved in a multicultural environment (Taylor, 1999), such as today’s Europe. However, under a multicultural model suggested by Taylor which means the end of the Liberal model, all citizens will not be equal but groups of citizens will have different rights in practice. If such a system will be designed for Europe it would be problematic to govern multicultural societies in European Union, more rights will be asked from the state to overcome the inequalities between the groups and it is questionable how much cultural rights a European state can give as a reply to the enormous demand by different groups. Such a system will lead to chaos in both governance and the society thus keeping the public sphere neutral as it is in the liberal model still is a better proposition for Europe while increasing the cultural rights homogenously to an extent supported by the Post National Citizenship Model.

As a result, one may conclude that citizenship is increasingly post-national, rather than national, and the rights and benefits of citizenship frequently accumulate to resident non-citizens. Equally, the spaces within which citizenship is enacted and contestation and claims-making take place do not necessarily coincide with either the nation-state or the EU (Soysal, 2000). In short, there exists “a proliferation of new forms of participation, and multiple arenas and levels on which individuals and groups enact their citizenship” (Soysal, 2001: 160). The bond between citizenship and civil society can no longer be assumed, and “nationally coded public spheres do not hold” (Soysal, 2001: 172). The application of civil society to a transnational context has attracted criticism; particularly that such a move represents an attempt to reproduce on the supranational level a model that has reached its limits on the national level (Delanty, 1998). There is also

 

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