Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law



Conceptions of citizenship are coming closer together in Europe. The forms of exercise of participation by citizens are still very different, but do not constitute a hindrance to integration. The cultural citizens remain national, and the legal citizens have achieved the furthest-reaching harmonisation, a process encouraged by the European Court of Justice. But even if the latter ventures to take steps which are too large, reactions can be seen in the rigidification among national politicians and even national constitutional courts, as the German Maastricht decision showed. The social citizens, in the end, remain dependent on national social policy, due to the lack of redistributive volume on the part of the EU. It is only in the social regulatory area that integration is advancing speedily.

Symmetry of the four citizenships at European level cannot be expected in the foreseeable future. Some nation-states have also taken long to reach this symmetry of legitimation of the community and its citizenship. It is improbable that spectacular work on a European constitution can accelerate this integration of all four citizenships. Instead, new superfluous conflicts are to be expected. In any case, the fixation on a constitution seems, in an international comparison, to be a fairly German debate. The Charter of Fundamental Rights will presumably arrive. The organisational part of a constitution can be coped with by documents similar to the statutes of an organisation. The French Third Republic may serve as an example: `rien ne dure que le provisoire' was coined for the three Acts which, after 1875, had to stand in for a unitary constitution because the two camps would not have been able to agree on a text. Without the 1940 defeat, the 1875 arrangements might still exist today. Britain is still able to do without a unitary constitutional text today. Poland was able to live with the `mini-constitution' till 1997. Hungary still has the drawing up of a definitive constitution before it. Why should Europe hasten on further than some nation-states have done?

Voices that see non-ratification of the European Constitution as a greater evil than the waiving exercise of the European pouvoir constituant are multiplying (Di Fabio, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 30.6.2000:6). Even the advocates of a European Constitution are no longer calling for a `constitutional big bang' (Europa-Kommission 2000:30). Even a European constitutional system would have to admit the pursuit of national interests `without pressure from majority votes' (Lepsius 2000:304), and this would be easier to achieve by dividing the treaties in two (Dehaene Group) and tolerating the `système inédit' of rudimentary basic treaties that will, but only in the long run, press in the direction of a unitary constitution.

In times of prosperity much is tolerated, and ignored, because of a lack of transparency, by the citizens of the Member States. All the steps towards integration-especially in the social sphere, where the cost overhangs lead to redistribution desires in relation to the financial burdens-should also be seen from the viewpoint of protection against right-wing extremism and militant populism. The Haider syndrome is not some sort of small-state phenomenon. Even the non-member Switzerland has caught the bacillus, and from Glistrup's followers in Denmark up to the Allianza Nazionale and the Lega in Italy there are political explosives around in the national party systems that could rebound against any overly hasty steps to integration.



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