European citizenship, an unhappy misunderstanding?

Agustín J. Menéndez and Espen D. H. Olsen have published a chapter entitled 'European citizenship, an unhappy misunderstanding?' in the collective work Droits subjectifs et citoyenneté. The article deals with European citizenship and European law, and brings forth a new understanding of citizenship practice and its implications. 

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The key question that his chapter poses is whether European citizenship is a form of citizenship; in short, whether it makes sense to say that ‘European citizenship’ is a citizenship status. This may seem a redundant question. What could European citizenship be but citizenship? Actually, the chapter argues that, far from being banal, this question goes to the heart of the matter of the ongoing existential crisis of the European Union; in particular because it opens up the rather black box of the authority of the European Union and of European law. The chapter starts by considering what citizenship is by means of reconstructing the concept in European democratic constitutional law. The focus is particularly on the connection between the regulatory ideal of the Social and Democratic Rechtsstaat and citizenship, while adding some reflections on the way in which the relationship between citizenship and other personal statuses should be conceptualised.

The chapter then analyses the evolution of personal status in European law not since 1992 (when the formal status European citizenship was introduced in the Treaties) but since the very creation of the Communities. Setting European citizenship in a longer temporal perspective leads the authors to question the transcendence of the formal enshrinement of citizenship. In particular, they show that the present shape of European citizenship was actually more influenced by the new understanding of the internal market and by asymmetric economic and monetary union that by the enshrinement of citizenship in the Treaty of Maastricht.

Moroever, the chapter considers both the substantive content of what the authors call proto-citizenship from the first decades of integration and formal European citizenship after Maastricht, paying special attention to the interplay of civic, political and socio-economic rights, and the implications this has for collective rights and collective goods. This highlights actual implications of European citizenship practice, going beyond a purely formalistic analysis which addresses only the literal tenor of the law and of the rulings of the European Court of Justice. In particular, this allows the authors  to argue that while proto-European citizenship was largely in line with the understanding of citizenship in postwar democratic constitutional law, formal European citizenship contributed to lock in a rather different understanding of membership, resulting from the redefinition of the goal and purpose of the European Union and of European integration. In other words, we claim that proto-European-citizenship was a personal status that complemented, without aiming at substituting national citizenships; while European citizenship not only facilitates the prevalence of European over national law but also redefines what citizenship (political subjectivity) is and what it entails.

Full info 

European citizenship, an unhappy misunderstanding?

Agustín J. Menéndez and Espen D. H. Olsen 

In: Droits subjectifs et citoyenneté 

O. Beaud, C. Colliot-Thélène and J. F. Kervégan (eds)

Classiques Garnier Numérique, 2019

doi: 10.15122/isbn.978-2-406-09138-7.p.0293

Published Dec. 9, 2019 9:39 AM - Last modified Feb. 2, 2022 5:07 AM