RECON Online Working Paper 2011/10

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European Citizenship

With a Nation-state, Federal, or Cosmopolitan Twist?


Espen D. H. Olsen (ARENA, University of Oslo)




European citizenship poses a theoretical challenge to the paradigmatic understanding of citizenship as congruence between nation, state, and membership rights. This challenge is addressed in this paper by focusing on ideal typical models of the EU polity. Is EU citizenship more nation-based, federal, or cosmopolitan? Utilized heuristically, the models account for different features of European citizenship practice, and the relative weighting between them. Based on this analysis, the main argument of the paper is that despite certain developments towards granting rights based on ‘personhood’ and not ‘nationhood’, institutional practices of European citizenship are also heavily dependent on the interface between nation-state and federal arrangements in EU politics. The main reasons for this conclusion are found in the continuing bifurcation of citizenship rights as transnational and supranational in the EU, and the institutionalization of member state nationality as a prerequisite for enjoying such rights. The degree of ‘incongruence’ or ‘de-linkage’ is therefore dependent on the mixed nature of EU politics, rather than the effect of postnational projects that address the ‘liberation’ of citizenship from nationality.


European Citizenship ― Federalism ― Nationality ― Nation State ― Political Science



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