How European citizenship produces a differential political space

Authored by: Teresa Pullano

Routledge Handbook of Global Citizenship Studies

Print publication date:  June  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415519724
eBook ISBN: 9780203102015
Adobe ISBN: 9781136237966


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Since its formalization in 1992, European Union citizenship has been regarded as a promise of a ‘democracy to come’ (Derrida, 2006). 1 The formulation according to which ‘every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union’ (art. 8 of the Treaty on European Union, 1992) has been interpreted widely as a move towards post-national and eventually cosmopolitan citizenship (Archibugi, 1998: 219–20). There is a close historical connection between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the introduction of a common citizen status for the peoples of the present and future member states. The Maastricht Treaty was a self-proclaimed further step towards the accomplishment of a more integrated, more democratic and larger Union, and the establishment of a European citizenship was meant to be the sign and the foundation of these future developments (Preuss, 1998; Linklater, 1998). Nevertheless, the ambiguous nature of EU citizenship as ‘derivative of ’ or as ‘additional to’ member states’ nationality raises doubts on the effective separation of citizenship from nationality that this status introduced (Isin and Saward, 2013). In terms of political and social progress, almost twenty years later the present state of Europe seems to be much less encouraging than was forecast. The economic crisis that started in 2008 has amplified the differences among EU member states: the economic and social conditions of European citizens have significantly diverged since the introduction of the common currency in 2000, and old stereotypes and mistrust have reappeared in the public debates and controversies (Hadjimichalis, 2011; Shore, 2012). The divergent social and economic conditions and the lack of a form of solidarity among European citizens represent a threat to the credibility of European citizenship, understood as a symbol of political unity. The understanding of the EU as ‘one of the few – and possibly the only – polity based exclusively on rights as opposed to substantive notions of peoplehood’ (Delanty, 2007: 65) needs to be reconsidered from the perspective of the uses, strategies, and effects of these same rights.

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