In the historical process of state formation, citizenship has played a key role for political integration. It has sorted out “insiders” (the full members of the political community) from aliens/outsiders, has conferred to citizens an equal status, regardless of market and other social positions, it has stabilized and generalized compliance, sustained social cooperation, the legitimation of political authority and, last but not least, the formation of cultural and material bonds throughout the population.
With the Treaty of Maastricht, national citizenship has been complemented with a new layer, EU citizenship. It can be said that the purpose of this innovation was two-pronged: on the one hand, to rationalize (symbolically and institutionally) the disordered array of individual freedoms and faculties linked to the EU and its legal order; on the other hand, to create a new recognizable symbol capable of enhancing, precisely, political integration and mutual bonding among all EU citizens, regardless of nationality.
While there is evidence, twenty-five years on, that European citizens do know and value EU citizenship, there is also some disappointment about the latter’s actual effects in terms of integration and bonding, especially in the light of rising Euroscepticism, souvranisme and anti-immigration (including intra-EU mobility) sentiments.
Photo Credits CC European Parliament
Also published on Medium.