Losing citizenship and democratic authority in Europe

European Parliament/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by-nc-nd)Damian Chalmers, Professor of EU Law at LSE and Fellow of UK in a Changing Europe, argues that the EU will continue to be perceived as authoritarian until it reforms its relationship with national citizenship and political community. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.

When the EU’s heads of state and government met in Laeken in 2001 to start the process that culminated in the Lisbon treaty, it was not meant to be like this. A new settlement was to be built that would not only be the byword for constitutional democracy beyond the state but that would also provide the framework within which a post-national community could live at ease with itself. Individuals were to be as comfortable being and living alongside EU citizens as they were alongside national citizens.

Fast forward nearly 15 years and migration has become a touchstone for the dissolution of that dream. The rawness of its politics has consumed the EU’s decision-making structures and seemingly overwhelmed its authority. More pervasively, migration is associated with a climate of popular mistrust of political institutions, both national and EU, in which the latter are perceived by a part of the citizenry as unresponsive and unable to deal with claim and counterclaim. The commitments of national citizens to foreigners, be these other EU citizens or non-EU nationals, has been called increasingly into question and into competition with commitments to fellow nationals. Continue reading