Assessing the Constructive Potential of Union Citizenship - a Socio-Historical Perspective

European Integration online Papers (EIoP), Vol. 1, No. 17, September 23, 1997

33 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2002

See all articles by Antje Wiener

Antje Wiener

University of Hamburg; University of Cambridge; Centre for Sustainable Society Research (CSS)


In European integration studies citizenship policy has not received much attention as a practice. Instead much of the literature has predominantly focused on legal assessments of Union citizenship shedding light on the limitations of supranational citizenship - compared to the familiar statist concepts of citizenship. Legal approaches have thus often adopted a minimalist perspective on citizenship, establishing what Union citizenship is not leaving aside the constructive potential of Union citizenship.

This paper seeks to demonstrate that a constructive perspective on the practice of citizenship facilitates valuable information about the creation of the institutionalized terms of citizenship over time. If it is true that Union citizenship is different from other types of citizenship, what is new about it? Constructive approaches suggest, that if we are to establish the dynamics which characterize Union citizenship analyses need to allow for a way of appreciating historical variability of context and contents of citizenship. To that end the major part of this paper seeks to develop a way of assessing the constructive potential of citizenship based on its newly institutionalized terms such as the shared values, objectives and regulations that have been established by citizenship policy over time. Beyond describing the emergence of EC/EU citizenship the paper promotes a systematic approach to reconstruct the policy in this supranational context. It is assumed that citizenship did not emerge out of the blue on the agenda of the Maastricht Intergovernmental Conference but that it is possible to identify agenda-setting steps in earlier stages of the policy process. If this assumption is correct, then a historical account could bring the various steps of citizenship policy which led to the history-making decision at Maastricht summit to the fore.

Keywords: European integration, European citizenship, institutions, state building, acquis communautaire, Treaty on European Union, passport policy, Schengen, institutionalism, governance, history, policy analysis, political science

Suggested Citation

Wiener, Antje, Assessing the Constructive Potential of Union Citizenship - a Socio-Historical Perspective. European Integration online Papers (EIoP), Vol. 1, No. 17, September 23, 1997. Available at SSRN: or

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