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EUROpean CITIzenship practice: political participation of transnational European senior migrants

Final Report Summary - EURO_CITI (EUROpean CITIzenship practice: political participation of transnational European senior migrants)

Lifestyle migration such as the temporary or permanent mobility of European citizens to coastal areas in Southern Europe widely responds to the freedom of movement European Union (EU) citizenship provides to all its members. Although this migration can be evaluated as an individual and rather apolitical expression of a politically intended mobility within the EU, it may seriously alter political life within the destinations - many of which are located at the Spanish Mediterranean coast. In the last decade, major changes concerning the social and political participation of such lifestyle migrants have been taking place, chiefly triggered by granting EU-foreigners active and passive voting rights in local elections. Many of the retired residents count on powerful tools, know-how and resources to integrate and take leadership in local politics. Amongst others, lifestyle migrants founded their own parties e.g. in several Spanish municipalities, they are active in local councils and transformed the way to approach local political questions at their place of residence. The research project EURO_CITI analysed the different expressions of political participation of mainly retired European residents in Spain, discussing the practice of European citizenship both from conceptual and empirical perspectives.

Project development:

EURO_CITI was implemented at the Centre of Human and Social Sciences of the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid (CCHS-CSIC), a major public research institution with more than 450 investigators. The beneficiary, Michael Janoschka (Further professional information: http://www.michael-janoschka.de online), developed his research activities in an interdisciplinary team led by Prof. Dr Vicente Rodriguez. Additionally, his activities were embedded in a major multi-disciplinary research project, in which seven different Spanish universities cooperate (MIRES, Spanish abbreviation for: International Retirement Migration to Spain). Such an inspiring atmosphere provided major synergies as well to the project development as to the beneficiary of the Marie Curie action.

In the course of the research project EURO_CITI focused on providing innovative and interdisciplinary research activities with relation to the different forms of political participation of European senior migrants within the most important setting of this specific mobility: the Spanish Mediterranean cost. As such, empirical investigation was combined with the elaboration of a theoretical framework regarding the practice of European citizenship. The general objective of EURO_CITI was to study the conditions, which lead towards and guide the political participation, involvement and citizenship practice of mainly retired foreign European residents who live in Spain. The project fills some of the knowledge gaps relating to the practical experiences of the European civil society which is currently 'under construction'. Being a topic of broader conceptual and empirical interest, the project concentrated on the development of the following objectives:

1. Development of a theoretical and conceptual frame, which responds to the daily practice of European citizenship in a highly transnational environment, as observed in Southern Spain. Such a framework included the integration of interdisciplinary conceptual ideas, which range from political theory (e.g. discussion of globalisation and citizenship), cultural studies and cultural theory (e.g. performative acts of politics, identity politics, hybridity) sociological approaches (e.g. the role and meaning of societal practice and representation) and recent theory debates in Human Geography (e.g. the meaning of space and place in a transnational world).
2. Understanding of individual, societal and legal constraints: In order to understand the outcomes of citizenship practice and awareness to political participation of foreigners in Southern Spain, both individual as social legal rights entitlements inscribed in public policies were analysed at different geographical scales.
3. Empirical knowledge production about political involvement of foreigners: The lack of empirical data concerning formal and informal political and social involvement of foreign residents in Spain was tackled by first-hand data collection. In the course of the project, a series of more than 50 qualitative interviews were conducted. Additionally, the beneficiary was able to carry out a representative survey with 720 participants in Spain.
4. Identification and evaluation of best-case and worst-case situations: Within the project, institutional and individual responses regarding the political participation were evaluated, and a typology of the political participation of foreigners was carried out. Different in depth-case studies were analyzed.
5. Dissemination: Knowledge was spread both within the scientific community as towards local, regional and international political actors.