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Marcel Hoogenboom and Maarten Prak

Chapter 2 analyses the historical origins of local and national citizenship constructions, discussing their implications for EU citizenship. Relations between national and local as well as political and economic dimensions vary significantly between countries. This means that policies to develop an EU citizenship which uses an idealised national citizenship as its frame of reference will inevitably be at odds with the variety of citizenship traditions existing in many countries. At the same time, the pluriformity of Europe’s citizenship traditions also provides an opportunity. Instead of starting from scratch, therefore, by trying to develop a completely new centralised form of citizenship the EU would be better advised to acknowledge the national traditions of its Member States and aspire to a multilevel form of citizenship.

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Maarten Prak, Marcel Hoogenboom and Patrick Wallis

The chapter analyses the formation of European citizenship from a historical perspective. Compared to the transition of citizenship rights from the local to the national level in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, EU citizenship can be characterised as a unique project. Never before in history was an attempt made to forge more than two dozen highly developed nation states into a new supranational entity. The formation of citizenship in Europe was a two-stage process. During the medieval and early modern periods, a robust form of urban citizenship developed. In 1789, that urban model of citizenship was overturned by the French Revolution, which introduced a national model of citizenship. At the beginning of the 21st century the further integration of EU Member States has already resulted in the transfer of some national citizenship rights (especially civil and economic rights) to a higher – European – level. From a historical perspective, the chapter asks what alternatives Europe’s own history can offer.