In the past few decades, the ongoing integration of the European Union has introduced new opportunities and policy challenges for Europeans. One particular challenge is the current legal construction of European citizens as national subjects, which has become politically limiting and lacks functionality.
As European integration moves forward and transnational mobility increases, the weaknesses of this definition have become evident. Despite its clear limits, the nation-based definition was reasserted in the Lisbon Treaty and therefore constitutes the legal framework of European citizenship European citizenship based on the classical national paradigm ironically signifies exclusion and discriminates against those EU citizens who choose a transnational lifestyle and against third-country nationals. It is the first group that actually expresses the process of European integration and the latter on which the future of the EU is built.
This problem is particularly evident when it comes to electoral rights: Because of the lack of transnational election mechanisms at the regional and national level within the EU, about 11 million EU expatriates are excluded from political participation at the regional and national level. The situation is worse for long-term residents not holding an EU passport, who are entirely excluded from political and social participation on all levels.
To fully realize the European vision and live up to the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, this democratic deficit has to be overcome. To accomplish this, we have to develop a new and modern form of transnational- and residency-based EU citizenship free from national and cultural attributes and able to empower citizens in the EU to participate more fully the political process: independent of their national, cultural, ethnic or religious background.
For more information please visit citizensforeurope.org