Who Should Be a Citizen of the Union? Toward an Autonomous European Union Citizenship

Refusing to believe that political constraints outweigh political possibilities in the present historical conjuncture, I argue that the time is ripe for the disentanglement of Eurozenship from Member State nationality. Since the mid-1990s I have defended this reform. But my argument for an autonomous Eurozenship in this debate unfolds in two steps which are presented in the subsequent two sections. In the first section, I explore the incremental disentanglement of EU citizenship from the nationality law of Member States, while in the second section I reconstruct Eurozenship, that is, I present the configuration of an autonomous EU citizenship law which can co-exist with EU citizenship cum Member State nationality.

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On Mushroom Reasoning and Kostakopoulou’s Argument for Eurozenship

Dora Kostakopoulou makes a spirited case for an autonomous status of European Union citizenship – one that is not related to the possession of citizenship of a Member State. However, while I sympathise with some of the concerns lying behind this proposal, I regard it as a misguided way of addressing them that is based in its turn on a misunderstanding of the nature of citizenship and of the EU and its achievements – albeit one shared by a number of the EU’s prime actors as well as certain of its foes.

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A relative dissociation of Union citizenship from member States nationality needs to mean something more than long term residence status

Dissociating Union citizenship from Member States nationality law recognizes and consolidates the assumption that people holding a genuine link to the EU have the right to possess its citizenship, regardless of whether their state of residence is willing to offer it to them. I believe that granting the status of European citizenship beyond Member State nationality, in a period noted by the emergence of far-right populism targeting migration as the major threat for European civilizational unity is a win-win solution both for its bearers and the EU itself.

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The Case Against an Autonomous ‘EU Rump Citizenship’

In the debate between Dora Kostakopoulou and Richard Bellamy, I agree with most of the propositions put forward by Dora in her introductory paragraphs: that EU citizenship allows former enemies to meet and live in harmony; that nationalistic populism should be rejected; and that the prospect of Brexit remains depressing. Nonetheless, I disagree with her proposal to move towards an autonomous EU citizenship.

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If You Want to Make EU Citizenship More Inclusive You Have to Reform Nationality Laws

Dora Kostakopoulou rightly spots some deficits in the current construction of EU citizenship, but she asks the wrong questions about these deficits and her answers would therefore aggravate rather than resolve the problems. She asks: “Why should statelessness lead to the loss of Eurozenship?” The better question would be “Why should the EU tolerate that Member States produce stateless people?” She proposes “that all children born in the EU, who might not be able to inherit a Member State nationality, would automatically be EU citizens”. The better proposal would be to make sure instead that all children born and raised in a Member State become citizens of that state and thereby EU citizens.

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Let Third-Country Nationals Become Citizens in Host Member States and of the European Union

I agree with Dora’s diagnosis, and I agree that the EU – and EU Member States – should act to rectify shortcomings of the Union citizenship construction that largely unconstrained allows inequality in regard to access to Union citizenship and Union citizenship rights. However, I cannot subscribe to Dora’s solution. In my opinion, the suggested reform is not the right cure to the shortcomings of the present Union citizenship practice.

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A Dysfunctional Eurozenship? The Question of Free Movement

A European citizenship model autonomous from Member States’ nationality cannot work within the context of free movement. Should we end the debate, then, and take Richard Bellamy’s side? Not necessarily. Dora Kostakopoulou’s Eurozenship can be both improved and approved, and below I offer a few options for doing it.

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On the Risk of Trying to Kill “Seven at a Blow”

I agree with Dora that political theorists should not be afraid of radicalism, as long as the proposed reform effectively achieves clearly defined and desirable goals (the utilitarian test) and is consistent with fundamental norms (the principled approach). Richard Bellamy already pointed to the potentially negative consequences of what he describes as a form of “mushroom reasoning” on some of the core principles underlying the European project, such as that of reciprocity. While I broadly share Richard’s conclusion, my main concern here is that Dora’s proposal may not entirely satisfy the utilitarian test requirements. In other words, instead of killing seven flies at a blow, it may end up killing none.

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Eurozenship: always a bridesmaid?

I would be most happy if Dora Kostakopoulou’s vision of an autonomous EU citizenship came into being. However, there are two key normative and practical pitfalls of her proposal. First, the decoupling of statuses that she proposes poses the risk of ‘free riding’ on EU citizenship rights for those who had, at some point enjoyed, and then lost, this status. Second, having in mind the different definitions of residence across the Member States, linking the acquisition of EU citizenship to this status is like putting a roof on a house with uneven walls.

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More Suffocating Bonds?! Conceptual and Legal Flaws of the Unnecessary Proposal

In this brief contribution I turn to Kostakopoulou’s text and briefly show that her proposal: 1) ignores the core aspects of EU citizenship’s added value; 2) is entirely unnecessary; 3) is not legally neat; and 4) is dangerous for the very nature of EU citizenship today as it essentially pleads for the recreation of the ‘suffocating bonds’ the EU was created to ease, only at a scale much more scary than Greece, Ireland or France, when taken one by one. Besides, it ignores every single outstanding problem actually posed by EU citizenship law as it stands.

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