Citizenship And The European Union Essay

5550 words - 22 pages

Citizenship and the European Union1. IntroductionThe idea and practice of European citizenship is relevant in two main waysto the recent controversy in Germany over plans by the governing Social-Democratic Party to reform citizenship law. One of these is that theconcepts of citizenship and nationality continue to be thought of assynonymous in Germany but are now relatively distinct, both linguisticallyand politically, in several other national regimes and in the European Union(EU). Secondly, on the one hand, new German provisions will be moresimilar than before to the nationality laws of other member states byintroducing a right [as opposed to a discretionary possibility] to citizenshipthrough residence and legal naturalization, as well as ancestry. But, on theother, the decision on 16 March 1999 to abandon the possibility of dualcitizenship[or, in my language, nationality] means that, in this respect, theGerman approach to citizenship now runs counter to suggestions made bysome specialists about the EU as a site of democratic practice.This paper will open with a brief discussion of the distinctiveness ofcitizenship and nationality. This is necessary so that one can understand thefollowing section outlining EU provisions. In conclusion, this paper willdiscuss some of the arguments about the prospects for EU citizenship, withspecial reference to loosening the overlap between the legal label ofnational identity and the normative practice of citizenship.Elizabeth Meehan42. Citizenship and NationalityAs I have suggested elsewhere1, there are good grounds for treating theoverlap of citizenship and nationality as a matter of historical contingencyand not as an analytically necessary connection. In short, nationality is alegal identity from which no rights need arise, though obligations might--as is obvious when nationals are called 'subjects'. Conversely, citizenshipis a practice, or a form of belonging, resting on a set of legal, social andparticipatory entitlements which may be conferred, and sometimes are,irrespective of nationality--or denied, as in the case of women and somereligious and ethnic minorities, regardless of nationality.While borders had been porous in the Middle and Late-Middle Ages andmigration normal, the strategic interests of new states lay in impregnabilityand control of persons with or without leave to cross frontiers. Nationalitywas an obvious criterion and proof of nationality a simple method ofverification. The process of modernization in the new states went hand inhand with the construction of the nation. This served external and internalpurposes. It created a sense of the 'Otherness' of those who were a threat tothe strategic interests of political elites. And it fostered the loyalty orallegiance that induced willingness to be taxed to fund the defense of thestate and to be enlisted into military service. Since 1945, allegiance isrelevant less to military purposes than to the legitimacy of redistributionand the funding of...

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