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At a time when Europe is equated with sovereign debt and political powerlessness, one should not forget that the foundations for a European citizenship have already been laid. Its potential for democracy needs to be interrogated, as do the cultural resources that it can rely on.

In 2005, French and Dutch citizens unequivocally rejected the constitutional treaty that was to lay the foundation for a common political space in Europe. They were not alone in criticizing the institutions of the Union: political leaders quickly took the opportunity to question the role played by universal suffrage; the massive disinterest of European citizens was diagnosed; and bureaucrats bore the brunt of the massive attacks against political Europe as it functions today.

Yet, the very fact that such a political space already exists has been obfuscated by these accusations. There is more: as Étienne Pataut shows in his analysis of the role of the European Court of Justice, European citizenship has little by little been given firm legal foundations, and can now rely on a coherent body of recognized and guaranteed rights (The Invention of the European Citizen).

Far from being only a legal framework, European citizenship is political in the full meaning of the word: Justine Lacroix explains how it has already become the object of new forms of mobilization and political struggles (Is European citizenship feasible?).

A less optimistic view comes from Luca d’Ambrosio, who studies the other side of European citizenship in "When Immigration Is a Crime"): for him, the criminialization of immigration law has reached worrying heights in Europe, effectively turning the Union into "Fortress Europe". This policy is nothing more than a "rationalization of inequalities" through a system of administrative measures.

Jean-Claude Barbier in European Union: Political Cultures, Languages and Civic Identities strikes a similar chord when he reminds us of the centrality of Europe’s “cultural-political” diversity.

Finally, in her review of François Ost’s compelling case for a Europe of translation, Leyla Dakhli proposes turning Babel on its head and embracing the “principle of translatability” to make multilingualism European citizens’ first asset (Multilingualism Is a Humanism).

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Further reading

See also: Pierre Brunet, Pluralism, Values, and the European Judge [21-02-2012]

To quote this article :

Florent Guénard, « European Citizenship on the March », Books and Ideas , 24 October 2011. ISSN : 2105-3030. URL : http://www.booksandideas.net/The-Foundations-of-a-European.html

Nota Bene:

If you want to discuss this essay further, you can send a proposal to the editorial team. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

by Florent Guénard , 24 October 2011

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