Union Citizenship: Unpacking the Beast of Burden

This paper puts the ambitious concept of Union citizenship under scrutiny; it is argued that far from being a panacea for popular compliance, 'citizenship' requires mutual commitments and a common understanding of what the Union project should imply. If fulfilment of constitutional criteria is not achieved, the concept of 'citizenship' may in fact be counter-productive.

ARENA Working Paper 09/2001 (html)

Andreas Føllesdal

The idea of Union citizenship, introduced by the Maastricht Treaty, heralds the construction of a polity, albeit one where the link between political rights and territory of states is broken. The present paper addresses some of the tensions created by Union Citizenship, concerning conflicts between the intended aims and the possible consequences. It is argued that Union citizenship was introduced to strengthen future compliance with Community-level practices. However, there are several problems to the assumption of a linkage between citizenship and compliance. Arguably, the introduction of citizenship must also involve an emboldening of EU institutions and practices to accord with constitutional law and normative ideals. First and foremost, those subject to laws should also be legislators with an equal say. Insofar as Union citizenship highlights the legitimacy lacunae in the Union, it may threaten Europeans' support of their common institutions. Meanwhile, citizenship also implies commitments on the part of citizens. It is argued here that individuals must adapt to concurrent allegiance to (i) EU-level political institutions and constitutional norms, and (ii) local norms and practices; furthermore, beyond ‘Constitutional Patriotism’ there must be a common understanding of the proper role of individuals, member states and Community institutions.

Tags: normative political theory, European citizenship, polity building
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM