John Keane | A European Citizen?
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A European Citizen?

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Since new citizens cannot be created all at once,
you must begin by making use of those who exist,
and to offer a new path for their hopes is the way
to make them want to follow it…

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Considerations sur le gouvernement
de Pologne (1772)

This article with the title ‘Acts of European Citizenship: Historical Foundations, New Departures’ appears in Engin F. Isin and Greg M. Nielsen (eds., 2008) Acts of Citizenship, Zed Books.

Nearly thirty-five years ago, the French scholar and publicist Raymond Aron poured ice-cold water on a brand new idea at its moment of birth. ‘There are no such animals as “European citizens” ’, wrote Aron. ‘There are only French, German, or Italian citizens’ [Aron 1974, pp.652-653]. If he were still with us today, Raymond Aron would be forced to concede that a new political animal has since been born. The European citizen speaks in a very faint voice and in many different languages, but her talk of European citizenship can nevertheless be heard in various quarters. Its presence is felt in university teaching and research initiatives; within school curricula like the Council of Europe’s Speak Out on European Citizenship programme; and in the manifestos of some political parties and in parliamentary debates. European citizenship functions as a ‘trigger norm’ in various fields of law covering such matters as consumer protection, asylum and immigration [Wernicke 2005]; and, of course, the principle of European citizenship has an important place in the Treaty of Amsterdam (signed in October 1997); in the reiteration of ‘citizenship of the Union’ in the Nice Treaty (signed in February 2001); and (most comprehensively) in the draft Constitution that encountered ratification difficulties during the first half of 2005, and in the recently approved Treaty of Lisbon.

Whatever long-term effects the latter Treaty have on the project of European integration, it is safe to say that Raymond Aron was mistaken : there is today talk and some institutional backing and action in support of ‘European citizenship’. Its novelty in the history of European integration is indisputable. There have been few Big Ideals invented by the engineers of integration, but this one – alongside such slogans as ‘The Community of Europe’ and the vision of a ‘Single Market’ – arguably now ranks as the most persuasive and politically rich, despite the fact, emphasized in this monograph, that the project of ‘European citizenship’ is poorly defined, confronted with serious intellectual and political challenges, and certainly in need of political friends.

Speaking of friends : who are the champions of European citizenship? Which people, groups, and organisations have tried to disprove Raymond Aron’s judgement? Put most simply, the answer is : those who foresaw that the stresses and strains of European integration would foster the need for a new collective sense of purpose that would bind the disparate populations of Europe together into some higher European unity; in other words, those who foresaw that the Monnet model of European integration would burn out – that regulatory effectiveness and economic achievements would not be enough because integration would stimulate public demands for having a say in decision making, as is now happening, sometimes with dramatic effects.

The prescience of the supporters of European citizenship has been rewarded and, before it is too late, and details dissolve in the mists of time, historians need to record the thirty-five- year-long history of how the project of European citizenship happened.

Such a history would need to include the path-breaking recommendations to the 1974 Paris meeting of the European Council, where for the first time there was talk of the importance of increasing mobility as a source of ‘European consciousness and the development of European citizenship’; and the Tindemans Report [Tindemans 1975], where the aim of creating a political community of citizens was first clearly articulated. More recently, appeals to ‘European citizenship’ have appeared in a wide variety of contexts : for instance, in Helmut Kohl’s campaign in favour of ‘Unionsbürgerschaft’ in 1990, which is perhaps the first recorded case where the language of European citizenship became part of an active dialogue between citizens and their government; and in a string of judgements issued by the European Court of Justice, where perhaps most progress has been made in defining and extending new citizenship entitlements and duties to the peoples of the European Union.

The whole effort to define ‘the European citizen’ is prominent in Article 9 of the Treaty of Amsterdam, which declared : ‘Citizenship of the Union is hereby established. Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union.’ That provision specifies that the citizens of the new Union will enjoy freedoms that include the qualified right to move and reside freely within the territory of the member states; the right of European citizens to have access to an ombudsman in any of the official languages and to petition the European Parliament, to vote and stand for municipal elections – and to vote in European elections – while resident in member states of which they are not nationals; and their right, at home and abroad, to consular representation and diplomatic protection by any member state.

The appended Charter of Fundamental Rights in the draft Constitution adds other, more forward-looking entitlements, for instance, the ‘right to good administration’. The same line of citizen-based reasoning is evident in the Treaty of Lisbon, signed in mid-December 2007. Introduced to equip ‘the Union with the legal framework and tools necessary to meet future challenges and to respond to citizens’ demands’, the Treaty provides for a strengthened European Parliament, placing it on an equal footing with the Council for the bulk of Union legislation, the EU budget and international agreements; extends qualified majority voting; introduces a Charter of Fundamental Rights into European primary law; and provides for the use of a Citizens’ Initiative, for the purpose of calling on the Commission to bring forward new policy proposals.

Note that these citizens’ entitlements are in each and every case political in the richest meanings of the word. This is consistent with the fact that, in the European region, the etymological roots of the word citizenship refer back to the citizen (civis) who dwells and co-operates with others within a city (civitas) [Weber 1978, volume 2, pp. 1212-1372; more recently, Skinner and Strath, 2003]. Citizenship is an abstract or ‘imagined’ identity – a self-reflexive form of civic allegiance – that replaces or transcends the ‘natural’, more or less taken-for-granted bonds of household or tribe or local community.

Rephrased : from Aristotle to the Treaty of Lisbon via Roman law, the twelfth-century revival of neo-Roman jurisprudence, the Italian city-states, the self-governing towns of Zeeland and Holland, the Polish Sejm, to the slogans of the English and French revolutionaries – in all of these contexts to be a citizen meant being an individual who belongs to a political community of common laws and to share its entitlements and duties equally with others. When Aristotle defined a citizen as anyone who can ‘hold office’ he invoked a thought that still lives on : to be a citizen is not to be a powerless subject. It rather entails equal opportunities of access to the politically defined rights and duties of the polity. To enjoy the status of a citizen is to de-nature power, to engage freely and equally with others by exercising the power to define how to live together peacefully, to decide who should get what when and how. Citizenship is not just about legal decisions or governmental policy making and implementation. According to some old and venerable traditions of European thinking, it is their condition of possibility.

If politics lies at the heart of the meaning of the term citizenship, then it is obvious that the project of European citizenship resembles the wonderful fable told by José Saramago’s Tale of an Unknown Island : it is a political odyssey, an exercise in making up rules along the way, an encounter with new problems for which there are no names, let alone automatic or easy solutions. Seen in this way, the presently embattled vision of European citizenship is confronted by a bundle of new challenges, for which there are as yet no resolutions on the horizon. When handled carefully, four new challenges in particular could occupy the core of a new research programme, in which historians and other social scientists could play a vital role. These four challenges could also help to define something like a political vision, even a political programme that could lead – if it were successful – to the re-shaping and re-valuation of ‘Europe’ as we know it today.

What are these pressing challenges? The first has to do with the fact that European citizenship is a derived and not an independent legal status. The Treaty of Amsterdam and the Lisbon Treaty grant ‘citizenship of the European Union’ to any person having the nationality of a Member State, but it excludes the harmonisation of powers to grant nationality. It follows that if third-country nationals (there are currently more than 15 million legally resident in the Union) wish to become European citizens then they first have to acquire the citizenship of a Member State. The first point, rephrased, is this : because of its political dependence upon Member States, the vision of European citizenship is perforce in the hands of the living-dead past. Each Member State contains not only different and contested historical understandings of actually existing citizenship rights and duties.

There is also great variation of the historical ‘depth’ and contemporary ‘feeling’ for citizenship, especially when it is considered as a meaningful normative vision. It is upon this uneven and jagged foundation – for the first time anywhere in the world – that an overarching vision of European citizenship is to be built.

It remains to be seen whether these diverse meanings and feelings for citizenship will generate conflicting policy definitions of ‘citizenship of the Union’; or even perhaps reduce definitions of European citizenship to mere words, which is what they seem to be for the Brown government in Britain. Time will tell, of course. In the meantime, what is urgently needed is a new history of citizenship in the European region.

The task of satisfying that need is neither easy nor straightforward. While we have various studies of the history of citizenship of particular countries or regions [e.g., Tilly and Hanagan 1999 ; Schama 1989; Podunavac 2001], no serious attempt has yet been made to write a comparative European history of the notion of citizenship in the different languages of the region. Such a forward-looking history of citizenship – a present-day history of the future – would need to overcome the clichéd distinctions between ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ Europe and conventional divisions among its member states (as if there were only ‘French, German or Italian citizens’, to repeat the words of Raymond Aron). It would initially do so by developing a typology of the different languages and institutions of citizenship in various regions of Europe.

The research would crosscut and so challenge conventional geographical units of comparison by concentrating on regions of Europe (such as the Mediterranean basin) or combinations of regions (south-eastern and northern Europe) that have never before been systematically compared.

This new history of citizenship would of course need to note the earlier concerns of Max Weber and others by asking whether, or to what extent, the appearance of citizenship traditions within the European region was unique in world-historical or global terms. The conventional wisdom is that only in Europe did the constellation of preconditions for (modern) citizenship emerge : territorially bounded, law-governed states; the institutional separation of the sacred and the profane followed by secularization; the emergence of civil societies; and the invention of representative government, power-sharing assemblies, political parties and periodic elections.

A reconsideration of citizenship in Europe needs to test this wisdom, in part by pursuing a comparative investigation of analogous or parallel traditions of citizenship in other regions of the world. Some consideration could be given – two randomly chosen examples can be mentioned briefly – to competing Chinese legal and political traditions of citizenship (shimin shehui [‘city-people’s society’] and gongmin shehui [‘citizen’s society’]), for instance as they have been shaped by the Daoist celebration of natural, virtually anarchistic spontaneity, Legalist defences of centralized political order, and the ‘middle way’ of Confucianism, with its focus upon moral cultivation and legitimate power in constitutional form. Special emphasis would need to be given to the reworking of these traditions during the early twentieth-century nationalist revolution – the so-called ‘Chinese awakening’ – in favour of the unity and sovereignty of a Chinese territorial state, and the continuing ripple effects of this revolution into the twenty-first century [Fitzgerald, 1996; Madsen 2002; Metzger 1995, volume 2, pp. 273–312].

A global re-examination of citizenship in Europe might give consideration as well to the old politico-legal traditions of the Islamic world, especially (given its geographic proximity and socio-cultural influence upon Europe) the Ottoman Empire. The research would revisit the conventional claim that the world of Islam, until its colonization by European powers, contained no strongly developed endogenous politico-legal traditions of citizenship. A careful eye would need to be trained upon the mounting counter-evidence, provided by recent scholarship, of well-developed practices of open-ended political communities structured by clusters of religiously sanctioned urban institutions : the umma (the community of believers); an autonomous civic system of shari`a laws; the cultivation of social solidarity and social pluralism through the waqf foundations and Sufi brotherhoods (turuq); and the cultivation of public spheres for the purpose of monitoring and checking the exercise of political power [Arjomand, 1998; Al-Azmeh, 1997; Hodgson, 1974; Hoexter et. al. 2002; Lapidus, 1988].

It is probable that such global comparisons would show that Europe is not exceptional in developing shared traditions of belief in the equality of citizens living within legally defined political communities. But – to take a different tack – among the striking and unique features of the European region is the way in which Europeans at various times and in different places have self-reflexively meant different and conflicting things when they referred to ‘citizens’ and ‘citizenship’. In Europe, that is to say, the languages of citizenship have been – and continue to be – both semantically antagonistic, politically contested and unequally distributed in a geographic sense. So we come to a working hypothesis : that during modern times five different, partly overlapping languages of citizenship have played a key role in shaping the institutions of government and civil society of Europe as we know it today.

Listed as ‘ideal-types’, these citizenship languages first of all include the understanding of citizenship as obedience to authoritarian state structures.According to this first view, articulated for instance in Jean Bodin’s Six livres de la république (1576; occasioned by the Huguenot rebellions) and Thomas Hobbes’s De Cive (1642; occasioned by the outbreak of civil war in Britain), political stability requires subjects’ obedience to the institutions of the territorially defined state and its sovereign powers backed up by the sword. Citizenship implies the passive subordination of subjects who consider themselves duty-bound to an absolutist regime, within which law is the expression of the sovereign’s will, and subject only to certain God-given natural laws [Riesenberg 1992; Stolleis 1992; Riedel 1982]. The citizen as subject enjoys no rights of public criticism or disobedience or rebellion; faction and civil strife are to be avoided, since they are causes of disorder, cruelty and injustice. The (male) citizen is subject unconditionally to the powers and laws of the state, which in turn enables him to enjoy the institutions of private life, especially through the family, private property and certain religious freedoms. Citizenship as a compulsory form of political-legal identity is paramount; plural identities are restricted and tightly monitored. Civil society understood as a complex ensemble of non-governmental identities is absent.

Traces of this statist understanding of citizenship are still today evident in certain linguistic usages, for instance in the German expressions Staatsangehörigkeit (citizenship; nationality) and Staatsbürger einer Monarchie (subject of a monarchy); in Article 3 of the Slovenian constitution, which speaks of ‘a state of all its [male and female] citizens’ (država vseh državljank in državljanov); and in the Croatian word for citizen, državljanin (from država, meaning ‘state’). In each case, the connotations differ from a second understanding of citizenship : citizenship as membership of a well-governed polity that avoids despotism by defining and protecting the freedoms and virtues of its leading social groups. In this second understanding of citizenship, tensions between citizenship and social identities are evident. Citizenship is seen to be nurtured through polities, but only on the basis of organized power sharing with non-governmental organizations and ways of life. Such polities first appeared in the Iberian peninsula during the twelfth century, where in the adjoining kingdoms of Leon and Castile public recognition was given to the customary right of representatives (procuradores) to gather and to present petitions, and to insist that their acceptance by a parliament (Cortes)implied that they had binding legal effect upon all members of the polity. Citizenship – the entitlements and duties of all to live within a political community of laws – was negotiated through parliaments, which were the site of intense bargaining about the overall welfare of the realm. Parliaments ratified treaties and debated questions of war and peace. They appointed ambassadors and exercised control over the naturalisation of strangers coming in to the kingdom. New or extraordinary taxes could not be levied without their prior approval, and their consent was required as well for proposed changes in either their rate or their mode of collection. Some early parliaments even enjoyed the power to investigate allegations of breaches of the law by officials or the monarch, and to call for justice in cases of wrongdoing. In all these customs – the Croatian thinker Iurii Krizhanich’s Politika (1670) and Montesquieu’s De l’esprit des lois (1748) later spotted – citizenship implied freedom from political despotism through the cultivation ‚from below’ of political representation and social limitations upon power.

A third approach, the republican, defines citizenship as full and equal membership of a free and indivisible republic. The ideal polity is not a monarchy, but a commonwealth of laws, one that is made and continually re-made by citizens and their representatives. Citizenship is the equal enjoyment of rights and duties defined by public consent, not dutiful obedience. Note that citizenship is an all-encompassing identity : the ‘faction’ and division of social life, especially that which stems from property, are to be kept out of and beneath political life. Citizens certainly enjoy such freedoms as those of habeas corpus, liberty of the press, private property, periodic elections, even the right to resistarbitrary government, if need be through revolutionary force that aims to eliminate ‘incivisme’. But these same citizens do so only insofar as they are loyally bound in unanimity to the higher order of the polity, which knows no division between government and civil society. Examples of this demanding normative ideal of citizenship include George Buchanan’s De Iure Regni apud Scotos (1579); Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Du contrat social (1762); and Aleksandr Radischev, A Voyage from St. Petersburg to Moscow (1790). Traces of this republican version of citizenship as ‘active citizenship’ are evident, for instance, in Dutch references to burger (citizen)and burgerschap (citizenship), which terms carry no negative connotations of ‘bourgeois’. Note that especially during the eighteenth century, this republican vision of citizenship became cosmopolitan : the freedoms and corresponding duties of citizenship were seen to criss-cross borders. Interesting and important cases include the transformation during the 1790s of the Swedish language of medborgare (citizen) and medborgarskap (citizenship). From the early sixteenth-century, they denote the common relationship enjoyed by burghers of the same town; during the eighteenth-century these terms are transformed – and mixed with the term for ‘subject’ (undersåte) – to mean persons that by virtue of certain rights and duties belong to a particular state; while during the 1790s, this old language of citizenship is radicalized through proliferating references to werldsborgare (citizen of the world) [Hallberg 2003]. A similar transformation is evident in the final draft of the Girondin constitution of 1791, which stipulated that any foreigner wishing to reside in France and willing to take the civic oath could be granted naturalization by the Legislative Assembly (hence the famous remark of Jean Lambert Tallien : ‘The only foreigners in France are those who are bad citizens’); and this cosmopolitan turn is evident as well in the first outlines of a philosophical vision of citizenship across borders sketched in Johannes Althusius, Politica Methodice Digesta (1603) and later developed in the writings of Immanuel Kant (e.g., Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbürgerlicher Absicht (1784) in defence of a ‘law of world citizenship’ (ius cosmopoliticum) which binds citizens and states together into a higher republican commonwealth of states.

The fourth – and perhaps most influential – understanding of citizenship is nation-centred. It formed as an abreaction to talk of world citizenship. It defines citizenship as the cultivation of the sovereign powers of the nation by means of state power legitimated through national symbols.So understood, citizenship reveals the strong influence of the late eighteenth-century doctrine of national self-determination. Each nation is said to be entitled to govern itself through territorially defined institutions of government and law. Citizens enjoy their freedoms and shoulder their burdens as equal members of nation-states. In practice, struggles for national self-determination created their own symbolic universe, often by assimilating sacred liturgies and organizational models from the Christian tradition, then adapting and transforming them into secular forms. National identity – considered as the most basic identity – functioned as a ‘civil religion’ that rendered the politics of citizenship into an educational mission to the state. Citizenship was thus seen to require the cultivation of a political community of believers, an idealized people united in the cult of the ‘patriotic religion’ (Mazzini) that could embrace the whole of Europe. This understanding of nation-state-centred citizenship has had a marked effect on contemporary languages of citizenship. An example is the ‘nationalization’ and partial replacement of such terms (in the language of Serbian, for instance) as stanovnik (citizen, from the verb stanovati, meaning ‘to inhabit’), stanovnik grada (‘one who lives in a city’), and gradjanin (citizen), with državljanin (from drzava, meaning state, hence ‘citizen of a state’). Sometimes the meaning of citizenship has been so ‘nationalised’ that many contemporary Europeans either use the terms ‘citizenship’ and ‘nationality’ interchangeably, as when they carry or produce their passports, or (as in Hungarian) see citizens (állampolgár) and citizenship (állampolgárság) as creatures of the territorial state (állam).

Finally – and most familiar to Europeans today – is the understanding of citizenship as the cultivation of civil, political and social rights and duties within a territorial state shaped by national customs and governed by democratic procedures. This democratic understanding of citizenship is the only one that openly recognises and sanctions multiple social identities. It had its immediate roots within battles to extend the franchise and to strengthen municipal self-government. It came relatively late to the European region, being confined mainly to the past one-and-a-half centuries. Its contours appear strongly within contemporary appeals to ‘informed citizens’ and to ‘citizenship’ (cittadinanza; citoyenneté; Staatsbürgerschaft) understood as the right and duty to vote, to engage in jury service and to respect civil liberties. The ideal of democratic citizenship was most famously expressed in T.H. Marshall’s classic reflections on citizenship, which analyze, for the case of Britain, the historical evolution of bundles of citizenship entitlements, from legally guaranteed civil rights that ensure freedom from arbitrary government and the enjoyment of civil society (habeas corpus, private property, the right of association); to political rights that enable citizens to exercise, directly and indirectly, control over their state institutions by means of votes, independent political parties and jury service; and the enjoyment of social rights to family life (the principal domain of women), employment in the labour market, the freedom to join trade unions, and state-guaranteed education and health care for all citizens, regardless of their income or wealth [Marshall 1951].

The first intellectual and practical challenge facing the vision of European citizenship might be summarised thus : how to develop a viable and publicly attractive vision of citizenship within a European heritage, that is, within a kaleidoscope of sometimes overlapping, sometimes conflicting traditions of citizenship that have deep roots that give the dead the vote and ensure that they live on in the present at the urban, regional and territorial state levels.

Of course, these traditions of citizenship now unfold within the framework of an emergent polity, loosely called ‘Europe’. This polity was born more than half a century ago in the circumstances of total war, concentration camps, and devastated economies. Underground visions of a ‘united Europe’, the early failures (during the 1940s) to institutionalise these grand visions, and American efforts (e.g. the Marshall Plan) to ‘rescue’ Europe from Soviet domination all combined to encourage the first modest efforts to develop European-wide initiatives in strictly limited policy areas, such as coal, iron and steel production, and agriculture and transportation [Urwin 1994]. These petits pas (Monnet) were to have much bigger effects, eventually leading to the voluntary creation of a new form of multi-layered and multi-jurisdictional polity that was both rooted within and would stand ‘above’ the structures of its member states. There is currently no political science term for this polity. The main crucible of European citizenship, the European Union, is neither a federation nor a confederation nor an empire nor a territorial macro-state. It resembles a condominio [Schmitter 2000; Schmitter and Trechsel 2004] marked by the following features : multi-tiered structures of governance whose competence cuts through and across the powers of its member states; a polity defined by legal rules and processes – and compulsory acceptance of the acquis communautaires; a polity that lacks a clearly defined supreme authority or a stable, contiguous territory; a polity that has no effective monopoly over the legitimate means of coercion and, so far, has no standing army and only a limited defence strategy and an uncertain identity in world affairs (despite the Lisbon Treaty provision for a new High Representative of the Union in foreign affairs and security policy); and – here we come to a second challenge confronting the project of European citizenship – a polity that is heavily, and increasingly, dependent upon the sub-governmental dynamics of an emergent European civil society.

From its inception, the process of European political integration was guided by the presumption that institution building from above could dispense with the bottom-up process of public legitimation of governmental power. This Monnet model, as it has been called, certainly took for granted the existence of vibrant democratic mechanisms operating at the member state level. But this model supposed not only that an ever-stronger net of European-level institutions could be cast over its member states; as well, the whole process was supposed to be separable from the time-wasting and controversy-producing mechanisms of public accountability that would otherwise slow down and unnecessarily complicate the complex processes of bargaining and agreement formation so necessary if Europe was to shake off the legacy of war and totalitarianism, as well as create a single, integrated European market. The political legitimacy of Europe was to be supplied by shame and wealth. Painful memories and the strong sense of shame generated by the background experience of total war, cruelty and several types of totalitarian rule would suffice – like a negative counterfactual – to bind the peoples and governments of Europe together. Similar conglomerating effects upon the peoples and institutions of the region would flow from the positive investment, production, trade and consumption benefits of supranational integration – or so it was supposed.

This Monnet model of European integration was in reality always subject to the push-pull forces of domestic politics within the member states, but since roughly the end of the 1970s it has begun visibly to disintegrate. Perceptions have been growing, both among policy makers and policy takers, that the European project has not won the trust and loyalty of its subjects. There is mounting awareness that the character of the European process of political integration and its modes of legitimation are closely intertwined. Although it was differently envisaged at the beginning, the project, for many years, had concentrated upon economic integration, understood as a strategy of regionally enlarging political authority in order to (de-)regulate markets. An immediate consequence of this preoccupation with the creation of a single market was the perceived neglect of government. A further, intensive round of political integration thus became an urgent priority. But with further steps toward political integration, important and difficult questions about the democratic accountability of the new political structures came to be tabled. European integration was confronted by diffuse social grumblings, active political refusals to consent – as in the French and Dutch referendum votes against the draft Constitution during the first half of 2005 – and the generalised sense that the institutions of government do not rest upon the articulated will of a European demos or demoi.

This process of de-legitimation arguably deepened with the creation of a European Parliament and (in 1979) the holding of the first European elections. For the first time, the structures and ethos of the European integration process became subject to cross-border democratic mechanisms of free and fair elections, open public debate and parliamentary supervision – all of which enabled the articulation of public grumblings and reticence about Europe. The time between the 1987 Single European Act and the Amsterdam Treaty of Union most definitely saw an upsurge of public withdrawal, public controversy and public involvement, through the use of referenda, parliamentary debate, and the formation of many thousands of civil society organisations concerned to lobby the European institutions. The policy failures of the European Community during the violent break-up of Yugoslavia deepened the feelings in some quarters that the supra-national structures were distant and not wholly legitimate, and therefore ineffective. The most recent stage of this growing legitimacy problem was the politically embattled, double-barrelled effort to win acceptance of a written constitution and to create and expand a common currency designed both to underpin a single, integrated market and to create a common bond of loyalty among the populations of the region.

More than any previous policy initiatives, the quest for a written constitution and currency union touched raw nerves, tapped deep feelings of national sentiment – and compounded the sense that the whole European integration process is in need of a new ethos, a new guiding vision, a collective sense of purpose that binds the disparate populations of Europe into some higher European unity. The traditional legitimation model of European integration – legitimation by historical shame, regulatory effectiveness and economic achievements – is in decline. With increasing political integration, public demands for having a say in decision-making are increasing. There is a growing consensus that the European polity now needs support – through the cultivation of new collective identities, a sense of political community and – according to some – new forms of European citizenship.

But can the norm of European citizenship successfully function as both a new legal status and a meaningfully lived mode of legitimation? To what extent is European citizenship in these senses likely to operate as a guarantee of the primacy of European law, or of property rights, or of strategies for democratisation? Does European citizenship have important implications for social policy, or immigration rights and procedures? Or is European citizenship (as Ralf Dahrendorf and others have claimed) fated to be a ‘soft’ form of citizenship – ‘soft’ in the sense that it will remain dependent empirically and normatively upon the primary determining power of citizenship dynamics within the member states?

Satisfactory answers to such questions can be given only by first situating European citizenship within the wider context of its sub-governmental dynamics. It is often held that European citizenship – to the extent that it is emerging – is largely due to political, legal, and administrative instruments (‘Königsmechanismus’) that have an impact ‘from above’, against a multitude of social and cultural interests and identities, divisions and fragmentations. According to this view, a common European sense of social and cultural citizenship is largely lacking – with little or no thrust towards a European citizenship developing ‘from below’. There are plausible reasons and some evidence in support of this view. European citizenship has indeed been strongly defined and promoted “from above”, through institutions such as intergovernmental conferences, the European Council and the European Court of Justice. For that reason, it seems likely that for the foreseeable future European citizenship will have to accommodate a much greater diversity of political and legal forces than any national citizenship of previous centuries ever did. In contrast both to its older state-centred or ‘cosmopolitan’ forms, future efforts to render citizenship compatible with governmental diversity will in fact be one of the major characteristics – and challenges – of European citizenship. At the very least, as the Amsterdam Treaty of Union made clear, European citizenship will remain a derivative form of citizenship, one that is dependent upon the behaviour of member states that retain the power to define the form and content of citizens’ rights and duties.

Yet there is another side to the whole story of ‘top-down’ European integration : for quite some time there have been strong forces ‘from below’ which require and support the emergence of European citizenship. These forces are bigger and wider than those generated by the Single European Act, which was largely a child of Mrs Thatcher’s political imagination and no doubt (a grand irony here) among the most radical contributions yet to the integration of Europe. There are, in addition to single market pressures, strong social and cultural trends towards the formation of a European civil society : a vast, dynamically interconnected and multi-layered European social space consisting of many thousands of non-governmental initiatives, networks, personalities, movements and organizations. This cross-border civil society is not completely congruent with the present-day European Union but its density is highest here, especially in the old member states and several of the new accession states. This civil society comprises individuals, households, businesses, non-profit and non-governmental organizations, coalitions, conferences, social movements and cultural-religious groups. Their situated actions comprise the stuff out of which civil society is made and in turn feeds the work of charities, lobby groups, citizens’ movements, independent media, trade unions and sporting bodies. The symbols of this civil society are breathtakingly diverse : Airbus, Nokia, UEFA, Wim Wenders, Medécins sans frontières, Benetton, IKEA, El Pais, Jürgen Schrempp, the Pope, Rem Koolhaas, a Berlin Philharmonic in the hands of Sir Simon Rattle, and a London Symphony Orchestra featuring a Russian double-bass player, a Maltese violinist of mixed Sicilian and Scottish origin, and a Serbian-born leader of the orchestra who has a French passport.

This European civil society of course has a history. It is in fact an old and deep-rooted process, evident for instance in the anti-slavery initiatives, labour movement activities and demonstrations for peace on an international scale that date well back into the nineteenth century. There is however evidence that the ‘socialization of Europe’ is now accelerating. Thanks to such factors as market pressures, tourism fuelled by low-cost transportation, sporting events, travelling ideas and elites, migrations, and trans-national networks of education, the density and complexity of trans-national or border-transcending social relations are growing. Yet whatever may be said about its ‘harmonizing’ effects – think for a moment of the European flag, with its circle of twelve gold stars symbolizing solidarity, harmony, perfection – the emergent European civil society is not a space of tranquillity. Civil society means a tendency towards conflict, protest, contestation, and this conflict potential poses a new theoretical and political challenge to the project of European citizenship. Due to the fact that it is embedded in civil society activities, European citizenship, if it is to play a key role in the life of the European Union, will be a citizenship with a difference – a form of citizenship that will not produce the harmony and homogeneity of a Gemeinschaftsglaube (Weber). European citizenship will instead be pluralistic, expressive of multiple, potentially conflicting identities, something of a guarantee of the right of citizens to be different.

Put differently : the development of rules of European citizenship is a vital precondition of the nurturing of a European civil society because cross-border civil society activities – whether in business or sport or media or religion or education and research – require cross-border rules and regulations which, when taken together and handled politically, could add to the momentum of European citizenship. Yet the future European citizen will never become an ‘omnicompetent citizen’ (Lippmann), a political animal who has a full-time, undivided loyalty to a sovereign political community. Theorists and policy makers need to bid auf wiedersehen to republican and state-centred definitions of citizenship. The European citizen is and will in future be a restrained and divided political animal – a part-time citizen caught up in a patchwork quilt of socio-economic milieux, a habitus of multiple identities anchored but tossed about within a vast sea of social preoccupations.

This is to say that the trigger norm of European citizenship will have to break with the traditional understanding of citizenship as a common identity : a universal attachment of individuals to a common framework of legally specified entitlements and duties. Traditional definitions of citizenship were perforce often hostile to differentiation and ‘faction’, as can be seen in early modern republican discourses on citizenship [Schudson, 1998, p. 309]. Such reticence towards differences of identity meant that prior models of citizenship were marked by a low regard for minority rights and a rather miserly vision of what social differences could be appreciated, tolerated, and even cherished. Such miserliness appears to have no place in the understanding of European citizenship today. Not only do policies based on the norm of cultivating citizenship in Europe today unfold within the context of a mosaic of robust and dynamic, actually existing civil societies that tend to intermingle as an emergent European civil society. This patchwork quilt of civil societies comprises a multiplicity of identities – of regional loyalties, gender, market position, sport, music and respect for the sacred, to name just a few – that have the effect of challenging and de-centring national identity.

European citizenship implies a unique form of post-national citizenship. Within the European region, definitions and visions of citizenship have hitherto been locked within national identities. Since the late eighteenth century, the doctrine of national self-determination functioned to ‘modernise’ the much older theme of citizenship : from that time onwards, the individual considered as a citizen was supposed to share with others a common sense of ‘national identity’, understood as a form of belonging defined by certain rules of grammar, including a shared language or dialect; shared memories of the past; shared positive feelings about the local ecosystem; and shared understandings of such ‘cultural’ matters as food, jokes, clothing styles, religion, such that the identities ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ could co-mingle and serve as something like a ‘home-in-the-world’ for individuals and groups. [Barth 1981; Keane, 1998, 79 ff]. So defined, national identity always implied territorial state protection, or the quest for it. Citizenship was presumed to be possible only when nations could articulate their needs and determine their fates through territorially-structured government. From the time of the French Revolution, this equation courted the well-known dangers of nationalism and territorial state violence. To be a citizen implied a duty of loyalty to a polity that was conceived as a solidaristic community based on the particularism of the nation.

The new language of European citizenship represents a direct challenge to such thinking. It highlights one of the big issues faced by the emergent European polity : how institutionally to protect and nurture a multiplicity of (complex, overlapping, hybrid, ‘bastard’) national identities, which for obvious reasons will not wither away into some common ‘European’ identity based upon a common language, ecological sensibility, sense of history and shared culture. Seen in this way, the project of European citizenship is attempting something never before attempted on a continental scale : to detach nationality and citizenship; to guarantee and protect citizens’ entitlements to their own national identities; and (hardest of all) to protect the whole political order from politically dogmatic or violence-prone ideological renditions of national identity, expressed either as extra-parliamentary nationalism or as mild and confused and mindless ‘Euroscepticism’.
If European citizenship is to be understood as a fluid identity that internalizes ongoing negotiations of particular differences (‘multiple identities’) and shared or common loyalties, as a new type of complex citizenship that guarantees citizens their ‘right to be different’, then naturally questions arise concerning citizens’ accessto the social and economic resources that enable them to secure their sometimes common, sometimes different loyalties – equally.

Citizenship is a precious inheritance, if only because it reminds us of the possibility of equality.Here, in one tiny word, is the third challenge posed by European citizenship, a challenge that can be clarified by referring back to T.H. Marshall’s seminal work on class and citizenship [Marshall 1951; Bulmer and Rees 1997]. Marshall emphasised that the project of citizenship required institutions and policies that could reduce and eliminate market-created socio-economic inequalities. The entitlements to civil rights (habeas corpus, freedom of association, the ownership of property) and political rights (to vote, to run for office, to join or support political parties) are not enough. According to Marshall, citizenship requires ‘a general enrichment of the concrete substance of civilised life, a general reduction of risk and insecurity, an equalisation between the more and the less fortunate at all levels – between the healthy and the sick, the employed and the unemployed, the old and the active, the bachelor and the father of a large family’ [Marshall 1951, p. 56].

What are the prospects for a new form of cross-border citizenship that recognizes that the citizenship that is specified in the Treaty of Amsterdam and the Nice Treaty will be just a word unless it is linked to the equalization of life chances and the reduction of social risks? Put briefly, the prospects appear to be currently dim, and not only because the fair-weather friends of European integration are dead opposed to talk of a ‘social Europe’ that provides some measure of social security for all European citizens. European citizenship also suffers a sequencing problem. Since national welfare states (like those of Sweden and France) came decades before European integration, and since most national governments remained convinced that the Keynesian welfare state ensured identification with the nation-state (rather than, say, being a major cause of public budget deficits), their leaders were more or less suspicious of competing welfare systems at the European level and therefore often completely opposed to proposals for a pan-European public welfare system. That is partly why only 1% of Europe’s GDP is re-distributed through the institutions of the European Union (in contrast to the 40-50% of GDP that circulates through its Member States). The entry of neo-liberal thinking and policies into mainstream policy thinking has arguably made matters worse. Plans for new European social legislation centred on social citizenship and regulatory intervention have been scuppered by controversies about public finances, pension problems, rising budget deficits and diffuse scepticism towards traditional welfare state policies. The single-minded commitment of the European Central Bank to the task of preventing inflation has for the time being ruled out new forms of Keynesian intervention. Neo-liberalism meanwhile has found its adherents in the European Commission, such that, at the European level, large-scale redistribution has become hard to legitimize, especially given the relative lack of social cohesion and solidarity at the level of European civil society. The absence of European social legislation not only served as a limiting factor, as a brake upon the process of nurturing European citizenship; the limiting factor also served as a consequence of the underdeveloped state of European citizenship.

The weakening or setting aside – for the time being – of the vision of a social Europe is now part of the history of European integration and it has serious implications for the whole ideal of European citizenship. While the construction of a “single European market” is well under way, and while a new form of European polity defined by multi-level governance, mechanisms of representation, and the supremacy of EU law over the laws of its Member States has crystallised, a common social identity defined by socio-economic rights and duties, aspirations and obligations has hardly begun to emerge. It is true that mechanisms of redistribution between economic sectors are at the core of what the EU means to its Member States. The EU has contributed to reducing socio-economic inequalities between its wealthy and its less wealthy regions. Both can be seen as elements of an ‘EU social policy’. It is also true that official European-level documents sometimes indicate the need for new social provisions, for instance in the form of promises to recognize that ‘all people who are disabled or are in danger of becoming so, regardless of their age and race, and of the nature, origin, degree or severity of their disablement, should have a right to the individual assistance required in order to lead a life as far as possible commensurate with their ability and potential’ [Council of Europe, 1992]. It is also just possible that the slow development of a cross-border culture of legally enforceable rights (e.g., to equal pay for equal work, or in the field of ecological protection) will accumulate to the point where a ‘social Europe’ will have been created – by stealth [Leibfried et. al. 2004; Dobson and Bell 2005; Schubert et. al. 2008]. But for the time being the reality of European citizenship is otherwise, and harsher. The existing and new Member States have made little substantial commitment to harmonise or co-ordinate their social policies; some of them are downright hostile to all talk of social equality in Europe. The Member States of a recently expanded EU thus find themselves riddled with zones of poverty and positioned at highly different levels of economic and social wellbeing. Their taxation regimes and social policy provisions and expectations vary widely, as do the coalitions of social associations (e.g. trades unions and business interests) that are instrumental in defining and re-defining social citizenship entitlements. The contemporary policy influence of the neo-liberal market ethos, with its generalised hostility to government intervention and preference for private, market-driven solutions in particular, arguably reflects and reinforces the skewed patterns of social representation and social inequality within the European polity. Frequently, policy definitions of European citizenship unfold within a political community whose policy-making structures provide privileged access and accountability to business interests – to the comparative disadvantage of policy takers such as consumers, workers, pensioners, patients, students, denizens and the impoverished [Schmitter and Streeck, 2003]. In the absence of equalised social access to political representation, the EU may even function as a guarantor of social inequalities. For the time being, its dependence upon Member States and powerful coalitions of socio-economic interests makes improbable a shift towards a ‘Social Europe’. From the perspective of European citizenship, that has a profoundly worrying implication : in the absence of major policy initiatives guided by the aim of positive integration based upon common systems of social compensation and social redistribution, European citizens will continue to be marked by a split identity. Caught between a Marktwirtschaft and their Staatsbürgerschaft, they are not citizens in a socio-economic sense. Despite whatever gains they have made in matters of legal and political citizenship status, they are market citizens – owners of capital, workers and consumers caught up in forms of competition that necessarily produce losers.

Finally : the project of European citizenship faces one other highly unusual, historically unprecedented challenge. It is (so far) a project that takes place under conditions of de-militarization and ‘civilian Europe’. It is important to note that, almost without exception, the fact and vision of citizenship within the European region was historically deeply bound up with experiences of violence and war. Ever since preparations for war against infidels in the name of Europa were made nearly a millennium ago, the continent of Europe and its adjoining islands have enjoyed a reputation as the heartland of new – modern and terrible – forms of violence and war that left a deep scar on the face of citizenship.

Citizens were men entitled to enjoy the benefits of equal legal status because they had already borne arms, or would in future be expected to bear arms in support of their polity. The rhetoric of citizenship was usually marked with presumptions about the importance of cultivating military virtues. In extreme circumstances, citizens were expected to show their loyalty to their polity and to demonstrate their courage, tenacity and capacity for self-government by proving themselves upon the battlefield. The replacement of mercenaries by professional standing armies in small city-states; the insistence (driven by the opposite suspicion of standing armies) upon the right of citizens to bear arms; the expressed concerns about the ‘decline of the martial spirit’ (Adam Smith); the insistence that men who had fought for their country should be entitled to full civil, political and social rights : all this was part of an historical period in which the citizen was a man on horseback armed with a sword or cross-bow or musket or rifle.

Research on European citizenship needs to reconsider the ways in which the various languages of citizenship crystallised under conditions of warfare and within violent revolutionary confrontations. These languages were evidently the by-products of – critical reactions against – the religious and plebeian violence of early modern Europe [Colas 1992; Ruff 2001; Keane 2004]. Yet the troublesome fact is that every citizenship language except that of democratic citizenship has positively regarded military service, not just as a means of defending one’s own territorial state, but as a vital and necessary condition of attaining such masculine civic virtues as courage, bravery and brotherhood. Until quite recently, the history of citizenship in the European region was for this reason (among others) a history of the exclusion and subordination of women – in favour of men who were deemed capable and willing to bear arms against potential enemies.

The prejudice that fighting men were the citizens’ fortress rested upon exclusionary gendering mechanisms, ranging from the rigorous equation of arms-bearing with civic capacity in the recommendations of Machiavelli, who had a strong preference for a citizen (male) militia over other types of military force, through various appeals to citizens’ right to bear arms against tyrants to contemporary policies (in countries such as Greece, Finland and Romania) of compulsorily drafting young men for military service. Any account of European citizenship needs to reconstruct and to criticise the catalogue of arms-related reasons given for excluding women from citizenship (women as feeble and feeble-minded; as unreliable because periodically incapacitated; duplicitous; as ‘by nature’ too tender for war). It needs as well to examine the prospects for abolishing military service or strengthening citizens’ rights of conscientious objection or developing instruments (such as the European Voluntary Service) that can promote civility within the European polity. In sum, research on European citizenship needs to address the fact that one half of the population were denied basic citizenship entitlements until well into modern times. Research needs to examine how the obligation to undergo military training and to fight a state’s wars has been a key element in ‘sacralising’ and ‘masculinising’ citizenship; and how the political process of connecting citizenship rights with matters of life and death, sacrifice and honour, has imbued military conscription with high symbolic value – at the expense of women.

If citizenship has been deeply imbued with bellicose masculine prejudices then it follows that the long-term reduction of conscription duties that has been going on in Europe is a gateway to a new ‘de-militarised’, less gendered and more genuinely universal European citizenship, a form of citizenship whose norms and forms are open to alternative forms of ‘civilian service’ that have identity-building effects within a ‘civilian Europe’. It is just possible that the policy vision of citizenship of the European Union signals a break with old traditions of armed (male) citizenship. European citizenship has arguably developed as an allergic reaction to the violence and cruelty of the Second World War. European citizenship has been encouraged by the so-called revolution in military affairs : the shift towards quasi-commercial, technology-intensive weapons systems that are heavily reliant upon air power that can be operated globally. European citizenship has been nurtured as well by disparate processes such as de-Nazification, the overthrow of military dictatorship in Spain and Portugal and Greece, the rise of peace movements, and the ‘velvet revolutions’ of 1989-1991. The combined effect of these developments has been to revise fundamentally the image of Europe as war-mongering and murderous. In some quarters, it is now difficult for some Europeans to understand why, a generation ago, many observers applauded Jean-Paul Sartre’s normative dismissal of Europe as a fat, pale, murderous region, whose fingers on every corner of the globe must be slashed until she fully lets go. In place of guilted denunciations of that kind, talk of ‘civilian Europe’ has instead flourished. This has meant : the peaceful resolution of conflicts and disputes through processes of law and open (inter-governmental) negotiation; the commitment to the non-violent reunification of the two halves of Europe; and the weakening of policed and militarily-guarded borders. It has also meant the creation and/or strengthening of civil society institutions and its key virtues, like civility, tolerance, and non-violent openness; and the development, through the emerging European polity, of a common security and defence policy that could be implemented with peaceful effects in the borderlands of Europe, and beyond.

So it might be concluded that the political animal called the European citizen has dismounted and laid down his arms. Residual patterns of military conscription notwithstanding, the legal status of being a citizen now unfolds within the context of a post-heroic civilization and a demilitarised ‘security community’ (Karl Deutsch) in which the experience of war tends to become more distant, less tangible, principally accessible through the visual imagery of communications media [Cooper 2003]. But how sustainable is this model of post-military citizenship, we might ask? Can the benefits of citizenship within a socio-political environment freed from the scourge of violence generated by armies locked in power battles over territorial borders be enjoyed by many millions of people?

The question is both pertinent and pressing because, during the past decade, the ‘civilian Europe’ model has come to suffer certain stresses and strains. Some contemporary observers now speak of the disintegration of this model as a consequence of various developments : tragic wars and ethnic cleansing within the former Yugoslavia; growing pressures for ‘humanitarian intervention’ in various global conflicts; sadistic forms of violence associated with the new terrorism [Keane 2004]; and the outbreak of an American-led ‘war on terror’ that has direct security implications for the European polity and its peoples. These challenges are evidently forcing some new questions onto the political agenda of the European Union. For instance : granted that European citizens can enjoy a political life of non-violence, how can the ethos and substance of European citizenship be extended to those regions – especially south-eastern Europe – with a recent history of cruel violence and forcible displacement of hundreds of thousands of people? Supposing that there will be a continuing need for (military) policing of Europe’s (potential) trouble spots, will a ‘European army’ or ‘European Peace Corps’ be necessary? How should it be organised, and who would fund it? And given that the model of post-military citizenship functions as something of a global norm – as the draft Constitution has made clear – can European citizens avoid taking up arms in opposition to cruelty and violence elsewhere in the world? Should greater priority be given by the European Union to nurturing a global civil society and the global governing institutions, like the International Criminal Court and a drastically reformed United Nations, that are vital for cultivating global norms of peaceful citizenship? But when all is said and done, is ‘military muscle’ (Cooper) a necessary external condition of European citizenship? How viable will be the new European-level armed forces – like the 7,500-strong crisis and peacekeeping groups and the 60,000-strong rapid reaction force that are now being assembled, following an Anglo-French initiative at Saint-Malo in December 1998? Will the further development of these forces be a necessary condition of the creation and nurturing of citizenship at home and abroad? And what shall be the proper relationship of these forces with the military apparatuses of NATO, the United States and the United Nations? In other words: can there be European citizenship without Europe taking steps to defending itself militarily?

Even a cursory consideration of each of these difficulties confronting the trigger norm of European citizenship makes clear that the emerging European polity has for some time been caught in the grip of a new dialectic : while there are deep-seated pressures working in favour of the institutionalisation of a common European citizenship, these same pressures ensure that European citizenship has a ‘fractured’ and resisted quality. The extended troubles spawned by the draft European constitutional treaty have tempted some observers to predict that the political animal called the European citizen is now dying. ‘We who lead Europe have lost the power to make Europeans proud of themselves’, said Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s prime minister and holder of the European presidency at the time of the French and Dutch referendum votes against the European constitutional treaty [Pfaff 2005, p. 26]. Unlike Juncker, who subsequently led a successful pro-Constitution referendum campaign in his home state, some witnesses saw in these rejections a reaffirmation of the First Principle that the basic obligation of any Member State is to itself, its own territorial integrity, its own security, and the effective functioning of its own institutions. Others claimed to have spotted the resurgent forces of nationalism (‘We want to stay Dutch’ was among the slogans used to mobilize votes against the Constitution); and still others drew the conclusion that the French and Dutch rejections, like the Irish and Danish rejections before them, signalled the end of economic reform and of the Eurocurrency, a repudiation of the arrogance of meddlesome European political elites – perhaps even the beginning of the end of European integration.

The sea is deep, the Greeks say. So it is with the fledgling project of nurturing European citizenship – as it was with the extended struggles, over eight centuries, to cultivate modern forms of citizenship at the sub-national and nation-state levels. The constitutional project seems (for the time being) doomed, yet disheartened conclusions have no place in considerations of the future of European citizenship. Levels of interest in European affairs – paradoxically – are rising in every Member State. Feelings of belonging and identification with ‘Europe’ remain high. Generalised public support for the principle of European integration, including common European foreign and military policies, is also strong – even in countries like France (88% support) and the Netherlands (82% support) whose citizens are otherwise deeply divided about this or that policy matter, or simply hostile to the sterility and stagnation of their own political system [European Commission 2005; Institute for Citizenship 2004]. Meanwhile, on the plane of institutions, the European Union will continue, for the time being, to be governed by the Nice Treaty. Pressures for deeper integration are growing in areas like policing and foreign policy. The common problems of sustainable economic reform and structural re-adjustment and social equity will not go away. With political will and some luck, there will be no ‘new Yalta’ agreement that effectively severs the ties between ‘Europe’ and the peoples of Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Ukraine and the post-Yugoslav states of Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and (whatever its eventual status) Kosovo. Imaginative new arrangements with the southern Mediterranean Muslim states, Turkey, Israel and the Middle East region might just be possible – and certainly desirable.

Whatever transpires, European citizenship as we have come to know it is both here to stay and – in the absence of large-scale social resistance and clever political tactics – unlikely to develop quickly or ‘mature’ into an overarching political identity, into a civil religion that serves as the common European identity within a common European polity. That is not necessarily a cause for lament, if only because the trends pushing towards European citizenship, however weak and incoherent, have already served to enlarge our understanding and acceptance of citizenship. The fact and the vision of European citizenship have helped to rescue Europeans from their blighted past, to foster the quest for reconciliation, now and in the future. In the field of law, the project of European citizenship has highlighted the discriminations of alienage and the need to overcome them. Talk of European citizenship also serves as a warning against the political dangers of recidivist nationalism. It functions as a reminder to neo-liberals (and others for whom Euro-citizenship is a Schimpfwort) that market processes typically have socially corrosive and unjust effects. And talk of European citizenship resembles a trumpet blast in favour of constitutionalising and publicly monitoring – democratizing – the growing volume and density of so-far unaccountable cross-border institutions and processes within the European region.

All things soberly considered, what are the chances of success of the project of European citizenship? When responding to that question, we should keep in mind the famous remark of William Morris that ‘people fight and lose battles, yet the thing they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, but when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and so other people have to fight for what they meant under another name’. It should also be borne in mind that the project of European citizenship enjoys no historical guarantees. It is just the opposite. The gates of heaven are closed to Europeans. The trigger norm of European citizenship serves as a reminder to them, and to the wider world, that European integration is different than any other political experiment of modern times. In contrast, say, to the founding of territorial states (like France and Italy and the United States) in the name of the summum bonum of norms like liberty, equality and public happiness, European integration originated in the desire to avoid the summum malum of terror, war, genocide and totalitarianism. Today, the norm of European citizenship is the David to the Goliath of injustice and unfreedom, perhaps even a tiny contributor to the task of blocking the whims and desires of the Grand Ideologies that in practice have ravaged Europe and brought misery to its peoples. But unlike the tiny armed warrior who courageously did battle with a slingshot, European citizens have another, more powerful weapon through which to defend themselves and their ideals : a precious inheritance called democratic politics.

Careful examination of the micro-processes through which claims have been tabled and deals struck concerning European citizenship makes quite clear that neither ‘History’ nor ‘European integration’ nor any other abstract force or ‘subject’ has been responsible for the practical advances that have so far been made. The decisive factor in every case has been the manoeuvres, negotiations, threats and compromises of organised forces within the domains of civil society and government. The inclusion of clauses related to citizenship within the Rome meeting of the European Council, the Treaty of Maastricht and the Amsterdam Treaty of Union, for instance, were the resultant of a Spanish text on European citizenship, two favourable resolutions adopted by the European Parliament, resistance by the Danish government in the name of nation-state citizenship and (if J.H. Weiler is correct) last-minute complaints by the Spanish Prime Minister, Felipe González, about the political dangers of forging a Treaty that only sanctioned market integration. Call all of this log-rolling and horse-trading amateurishness, but the plain fact is that such political processes of deciding who gets what, when and how are and ought to be unavoidable within a democratic polity. That is why politics will undoubtedly remain at the heart of the citizenship project in Europe – and why politics will serve as a vital condition of its possible future expansion.

* Revised version of a public lecture delivered at the Zentrum für Niederlande-Studien Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, January 8th, 2008


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