Chapter 10 addresses the problem of transnational solidarity, and argues that a European form is possible. Contrary to positions which assume that pre-political cultural identity precedes civic identity, Eberl argues that the process which generates solidarity moves in the opposite direction: civic identity is the result of democratic institutions. He shows that the exclusive transnational realisation of solidarity by European member states causes paradoxes. Transnational solidarity is ‘parasitic’ to national solidarity. Without loosening this dependence, European solidarity will always be trapped in the paradox of subsisting transnational mobility by national solidarity which constrains the emergence of European solidarity. What is needed is a supranational layer of social rights in the form of direct payments to individuals which will overcome the contradictory structure of EU citizens’ transnational mobility and state citizens’ national solidarity.
Sandra Seubert and Oliver Eberl
Sandra Seubert and Oliver Eberl
Modern democratic citizenship is, on the one hand, constructed as a bounded concept, intimately linked to the nation state, yet on the other it entails a universalistic promise of inclusion and is potentially unbounded. Since the ‘nationalisation’ of citizenship in the nineteenth century, the concept refers to a coherent status with particular rights and duties based on a collective identity, a ‘we’ perspective, defined by those being born within the bounded territory of a ‘nation state’. Yet the universalistic promises of citizenship are at odds with a bounded membership status that goes along with exclusions for social, gender and racial reasons and this potentially creates a transformative dynamic. These conflicts and dynamics are also mirrored in the development of European citizenship. This chapter sheds light on these questions by investigating historical and normative trajectories and social struggles that brought about modern notions of citizenship. It analyses the boundaries and promises, ambivalences and tensions embodied in the democratic concept of citizenship, and finally shows how they are mirrored in the institution of European citizenship, as well as in the discussion about its future.
Sandra Seubert, Oliver Eberl and Daniel Gaus
Chapter 3 by Sandra Seubert, Oliver Eberl and Daniel Gaus deals with political inequality in the European Union (EU) and the role the European Parliament (EP) can play in the process of democratic empowerment of EU citizens. This chapter provides a combined empirical and normative-theoretical analysis of political inequality in the EU related to low voter turnout in EP elections. The empirical analysis of EP elections between 2004 and 2014 shows that low turnout is related to social inequality of voting. Socially weak EU citizens are overrepresented in the group of non-voters. This in turn creates inequality in the democratic representation of social interests in the EP and European politics. On this basis it is argued that political equality as a pre-condition for democratic empowerment of EU citizens needs institutional reform and politicization of social issues. It is wildly held that political inequality among EU citizens is related to the EU’s current institutional architecture. Despite the EP’s growing competences, it remains secondary to national governments’ role in the EU’s political process. Based on our empirical findings it is suggested that reforms of the EU’s electoral law are necessary, but not enough. In order to overcome political inequality among EU citizens due to low turnout, an institutional reform to transform the second-order character of EU elections and a politicization of EU politics have to go hand in hand.The authors’ argument suggests that the way ahead for empowering European citizens lies in further empowering the EP up to the level where Council and Parliament share political authority in the EU equally, with neither of them having the final decision-making power. The EP as the cornerstone of a transnational politicization of social and economic issues in the EU will need transnational party lists and transnational social movements to back up the parliamentary process. But democratic empowerment demands more than this: breaking the international structure of political authority means putting the EP on a completely equal footing with the authority of national executives. Only by becoming a European (co-)legislator that is on a par with the Council in all political matters can an EP create the dynamic needed to address problems of justice related to economic and social interaction in a common market. This means equality not only with the Council in the ordinary legislation procedure but also with the European Council in changing the EU treaties. Democratic empowerment also includes the deconstitutionalization of the treaties as a necessary condition for the politicization of economic and social issues in the EU.