Why European Citizenship? Normative Approaches to Supranational Union

Rainer Bauböck


European citizenship is a nested membership in a multilevel polity that operates at member state and union levels. A normative theory of supranational citizenship will necessarily be informed by the EU as the only present case and will be addressed to the EU in most of its prescriptions, but should still develop a model sufficiently general to potentially apply to other regional unions as well. The Article first describes three basic characteristics of such a polity — democratic representation at the supranational level, internal freedom of movement between member states, and regional limits to external geographic expansion — and argues that a multiplication of such regional unions would contribute to a more just and peaceful international order. Building on this modification of Kant’s model for a global confederation of republics, the contribution explores three alternative approaches for strengthening democratic citizenship in the European Union: a statist approach that aims at transforming the EU into a federal state, a unionist approach whose goal is to strengthen union citizenship vis-a`-vis member state nationality, and a pluralist one that specifies citizenship norms for each level and balances them with each other on the basis of the current state of federal integration. These approaches are then compared with regard to their implications for three policy questions: (1) general status differences and inequality of rights amongst EU citizens living in their country of nationality, EU citizens residing in other member states, third-country nationals, and EU citizens residing outside the territory of the Union; (2) voting rights in European, national, and local elections; and (3) access to Union citizenship and to member state nationality.

Full Text: