Third Country Nationals as Euro Citizens: The Case Defended

This paper discusses the social and political rights of third-country nationals in EU countries. Whereas the European Citizenship clause introduced by the Amsterdam Treaty excludes this group, this arguably violates basic democratic rights of participation.

ARENA Working Paper 9/1998 (html)

Andreas Føllesdal

The Amsterdam Treaty bolsters European Citizenship, and thereby inadvertently increases the social and political exclusion of (semi-)permanent third country residents in the EU, who fall outside the scope of Euro Citizenship. Plausible normative political theories deem this a blatant violation of the basic democratic principle that those affected by social institutions should also enjoy political levers of influence. The paper first briefly sketches a Liberal Contractualist defense for awarding this group full citizenship in the relevant Member State, supporting three somewhat contested claims:

  • Third country nationals should not only enjoy Euro Citizenship, but also be given national citizenship in the Member State of residence.
  • Member states may impose conditions, oaths etc. on such prospective citizens.
  • Member States may withhold some privileges from those resident third country nationals who refuse to be naturalized.

The paper goes on to present and discuss, only to dismiss, the most plausible arguments offered in defense of current practice within the context of a Europe of open borders for Member State citizens. These arguments seek to deny citizenship to third country residents in order

  • To protect national and locally endorsed values ensuring social homogeneity of the community;
  • To exclude people with non-liberal values;
  • To ensure commitment to shared future which warrants democratic rights in the first place;
  • To avoid instability caused by citizens with conflicting multiple loyalties;
  • To ensure and foster the ideal of active political participation, impossible for dual citizens;
  • To avoid backlash problems among current EU citizens which threaten the stability of welfare policies of Member States and the EU.

A later version of this paper was published in D. Smith and s. Wright (eds) (1999) Whose Europe? The turn towards democracy, Blackwell Publishers.

Tags: normative political theory, fundamental/human rights, immigration policy, European citizenship
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM - Last modified Apr. 26, 2011 2:38 PM