Citizenship and Political Rights in the European Union: Consensus and Questions
GRUNRECHTE IN DER EUROPAISCHEN UNION, pp. 43-51, R. Bauböck, J. Melchior, eds., Wien: Institut für Höhere Studien, 1997
13 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2010
Date Written: 1997
Do we want peoples to be virtuous? Let us then start by making them love their homeland. But how are they to love it if the homeland is nothing more for them than for foreigners, and accords them only what it cannot refuse to anyone? (Rousseau 1755/1978, Political Economy 221).
There seems to be agreement among professors Schmitter and Preuss and myself regarding the following broad claims on the issue of European citizenship and political rights.There are good reasons for a conception of European citizenship which includes political rights regarding EU institutions. The substantive bundle of political rights remains to be determined, partly because our received standards of democratic theory were developed within the parameters of the nation state, and cannot be transferred to the multi-level system of governance that is the EU (Schmitter 1997). Moreover, we question the soundness of the guiding idea for introducing Union citizenship. Such a notion of citizenship cannot and should not serve as a means for fostering popular support and affective allegiance to union institutions and policies. Union citizenship should not make people feel Europeans, and feel Europe as a home. The introduction of Union citizenship in the Treaty on European Union (Art. 8) appears to have been informed by Rousseau's view cited above. We challenge Rousseau's claim, and certainly question this strategy for creating a European identity.
One reason is of course that the political rights are not exclusively held by citizens of Member States of the European Union. Consider the right of every citizen to vote and run in municipal elections where they reside. Some states (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, the Irish Republic) already grant such rights to residents regardless of whether they are citizens of EU. However, even though we doubt this strategic goal for establishing a European Citizenship, we agree that there are other, more important and interesting reasons for including political rights -- in some more developed form -- into what is or will become Union citizenship.
Keywords: EU, citizenship, political rights, Treaty on the European Union, governance
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