Chapter 1 relates the debate on EU citizenship to the puzzle of a European political union, and demonstrates how EU citizenship is caught in the ‘double loop’ of contradictions and constraints: the contradiction between the political language of citizenship and the economic logic of free movement on the one hand; and the constraint that arises from the rivalling legitimatory demands of international and supranational forms of political cooperation on the other. For the future of EU citizenship, the extent to which the EU succeeds in appropriately channelling pan-European conflicts of wealth disparities and redistribution will prove to be decisive. With regard to EU citizenship, the choice is between a weak, integrated status or a strong(er), differentiated status. While the former tends to undermine substantial equality, the latter tends to undermine formal equality.
Chapter 9 addresses and evaluates EU citizenship under the lens of cosmopolitanism. By reconstructing cosmopolitan principles, the chapter aims: first, to discuss the question of whether or not transnationalisation is a step towards a realisation of cosmopolitanism; and, second, to propose a relationship with the development and prospect of EU citizenship as an example of the attempt to transnationalise (citizenship) rights. The cosmopolitan frame of reference is aimed at helping to assess the EU’s prospects and challenges as a transnational membership regime. Seubert argues that a cosmopolitan standpoint generates an inherent tension for the EU: even if EU citizenship moves towards a transnational form, as a federation of states it is still a bounded entity – bounded through the borders of its member states. It is proposed, therefore, that we should think of cosmopolitanism not as something static and fixed, but rather as a transformative process – cosmopolitisation.
The EU is still torn between market and polis, leaving the situation negligently undecided as to whether it should be developed into an instrument of catching up with economic and cultural globalisation or as an accelerator of it. In this situation ‘reconsidering European citizenship’ ought to be interpreted as empowerment rather than protection. Four areas of such empowerment are sketched: (1) reclaiming constituent power; (2) de-constitutionalising the treaties; (3) enhancing direct legitimation – empowering a transnational parliament; and (4) accomplishing a transnational citizenship status.
Sandra Seubert and Oliver Eberl
Frans van Waarden and Sandra Seubert
People living in Europe belong to different concentric or overlapping territorially defined communities: neighbourhoods, cities, nation-states and the European Union, and not to forget the world population. They can also belong to various other groups or categories: (extended) families, friends, colleagues, genders, age groups, ethnic groups, the employed or the unemployed, students or pensioners, the healthy, the sick or the disabled, as well as language or religious communities. These communities and categories define multiple identities, which engender rights, duties and responsibilities. Over time some of these have come to be defined in law. Membership of territorially defined communities is referred to as citizenship. This term – as well as related ones in other European languages (citoyennete, burgerschap, Burgerschaft, ciudadania, cittadinanza, cidadania, cetatenie, medborgarskap) – stems from the term ‘city’, ‘burg’, ‘fortress’, that is, a walled and protected territory. Inhabitants of this walled territory had freedom (‘Stadtluft macht frei’), which furthered independence and individualism. However, not everybody within the city walls was a ‘citizen’. Alongside the territorial definition, citizenship has always had a social construction of membership, which included and excluded some groups. For example, the beggar within the city walls was not part of the citizens. For those who were included, the right to freedom and independence was always combined with duties and responsibilities. Walls provided protection, but had to be built, maintained and defended. Duties such as serving in civic militias, guarding walls and dykes, providing labour and paying taxes were required in order to guarantee the continued protection of these rights. Such rights and duties stabilised mutual expectations between people and developed into customs. Eventually they became enacted into law, in order to increase transparency and predictability and ensure equality.
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.
Edited by Sandra Seubert, Oliver Eberl and Frans van Waarden
Trudie Knijn, Marcel Hoogenboom, Sandra Seubert and Sybe de Vries
In the past few decades we have observed soaring anti-Europeanism in many EU Member States under conditions of expanding European citizenship rights in almost all domains of life: economy, social protection, law, democracy and family. This paradox – if not contradiction – is what the FP7 research programme bEUcitizen has struggled with, tried to unravel and now has to address. Are we dealing with a paradox, that is, seeming though not real contradictive tendencies, or do we face fundamental and unsolvable contradictions between the EU on the one hand, and citizens and constitutions of EU Member States on the other hand, or – and even more complicated – does the concept of (EU) citizenship itself contain contradictions? In its call for reflecting on barriers towards EU citizenship that has founded this programme the wording has been proactive: ‘The concept of European Union citizenship lies at the heart of the EU’s unique polity. The challenges that the EU faces in making EU citizens more aware of their rights and obligations and in seeking to overcome the persistent shortcomings related to the exercise of EU citizens’ rights and obligations’. Now, after four years of research with the involvement of academic experts in law, economics, social science, philosophy and history from 19 countries and 26 universities, the balance is made up and the main conclusions have to be drawn.