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The Space of Citizenship in Europe

Final Report Summary - EUCITISPACE-II (The Space of Citizenship in Europe)


The Marie Curie IEF funded project EUCITISPACEII (http://eucitispace.wordpress.com) was focused on the study of European statehood and of its current restructuring and redefinition. More precisely, the project centered on two elements of statehood redefinition, that is EU citizenship and EU’s spatial policies, and their relationship. The objectives of the project were three. The first one consisted in reframing the debate about EU integration in terms of statehood restructuring. This was an ambitious task, since mainstream theories on EU integration all agree that the EU is not in any way a state. The challenge, concerning this objective, was both conceptual, since it meant reframing the concept of state/statehood in order to make it possible to apply it to the context of the European Union, and empirical. Indeed, the project had to demonstrate empirically that it is possible and fruitful to study the concrete transformations of citizenship and spatial policies through the lenses of statehood restructuring. The publications that result from the project, the book manuscript in particular, provide a strong argument for the case of EU statehood restructuring and rescaling. In particular, the main thesis that is demonstrated in detail in the book manuscript, and through the study of single cases in the articles, is that EU citizenship policies, in particular the ones relating to free movement, produce a EU territory that is the result of the recomposition, and qualitative redefinition, of national territories and spaces. The empirical cases that have been studied, that is that is the relationship between European citizenship and the construction of a European space of free movement; the link between geographical space and political space in the debates for the referendums of the European Constitutional Treaty, have provided empirical evidence of the fruitfulness of analyzing EU integration as a process of statehood restructuring. In particular, describing and documenting the working of EU citizenship as a tool and, at the same time, as a result of statehood restructuring at the continental level, implied a methodological challenge, that is finding an approach to law that was dynamic and that could account for a relation notion of statehood. Indeed, during the project we looked at two main bodies of research: EU legislation, on the one side, and public controversies on EU citizenship and space, on the other. For the second body of material, we have been using the tools of the sociology of controversies, as it has been developed by the pragmatic school of sociology in Paris (Lemieux, Trom, Boltanski, for example). For the first body of data, it was more difficult to find an approach that would be adequate, empirically and theoretically, to analyze EU citizenship policies. Indeed, citizenship policies, and mobility policies, take shape mainly through the implementation of EU and national legislation, be it primary - Treaties- or secondary law - directives, regulations, decisions. ECJ judgments and their application also play a crucial role in recomposing national law and practices, as we have documented in our analysis of the Laval judgment. Indeed, it may be argued that it is precisely because of the difficulties that the EU has in acting directly as a sovereign power - given the fact that, at least prima facie, sovereignty lies in the hands of its member states - that law acts as an indirect instrument that “replaces” traditional politics. At the same time, we are here confronted with the need of analyzing “law in action”, since what we are interested in are the acts and processes that take shape through the enactment of EU and national legislation within the framework of the common EU space. The focus here is not so much on the actors, but on the deeds, the acts and the effects of the complex dynamic that is produced by the entanglement of EU and national law. Indeed, most of the crucial effects of EU law can be described as unintentional: they are the result of the combination of processes of restructuring of citizenship and territory at the various scales, and of that ensemble made of national, EU and international law. In order to describe and to map these effects and dynamics, we adopted the approach of “legal operations”. We take this category from the work of the French legal historian and anthropologist Yan Thomas . Specifically, this approach involves reconstituting the methods by which acts of law forge agencies in the social world that have effects, whether intended or unintended, on the nature and practices of citizenship. In this way one can identify the acts through which legislators, judiciary and individuals who perform them fabricate European citizenship itself. The cases of transitional measures concerning free movement of workers within the EU, the Laval-Quartet, the case of the application of EU citizenship law to the EU Overseas territories, as well as the main case-law concerning citizenship and free movement, from 1992 until the recent cases of Zambrano, have been studies applying the approach of the legal workings of EU citizenship. The results of this new approach to EU law in general and to EU citizenship law in particular have been extensively published in the book manuscript and in the various articles in French and in English that demonstrate and disseminate the results of the project. EU citizenship law is thus described as a dynamic set of processes, and not as a legal status. The object of law, thus defined, is not given in advance; it is the product neither of abstracting from concrete cases nor of universal norms, but on the contrary an a posteriori result of these operations and of the performativity specific to law itself.

Applying the method developed by Yan Thomas for Roman Ancient law to contemporary EU law is one of the innovative features of the present project, and we aim at using it more extensively, expanding it eventually also at the intersection of EU and international law, in our future research work. The book monograph that results form the project documents in detail and at length the fruitfulness of a pragmatic and dynamic approach to EU law. We have combined this approach, which is specific to legal operations, to the one developed by Engin Isin and Micheal Saward concerning acts of European citizenship. Public controversies and discourses concerning EU citizenship, such as the ones we have analysed concerning the French debate on the EU Constitutional Treaty, can also be studied under this approach. An act of European citizenship is one that defines or modifies its status, or which embodies claims of rights or considerations in terms of status or the ideals of European citizenship. The advantage of thinking of European citizenship through this paradigm is that it is possible to see acts in their singularity while also identifying dynamics that pass through these acts. It is precisely through this redefinition of EU citizenship as a set of acts and operations that our project has been able to trace its political effects and to document its deeply politicised nature, thus providing an original contribution to the existing literature on the subject. Indeed, adopting here the work of Linhardt and Muniesa - they are themselves inspired by the analysis of Michel Foucault on this point -, we described the anti-, quasi- and sub-political nature of EU citizenship. Indeed, legal and economic justifications associated to EU citizenship serve as proxies for the political effects of EU citizenship. The upshot is that EU citizenship is sub-political, or political in its consequences: it forms hierarchies and modes of subjection specific to the European level of government, but which filter back via the recomposition of citizenship at national level. The strategic deployment of law and the economic rationality which it forges show the quasi-political nature of European citizenship. Distinctions that existed within national citizenships and between them in Europe are reconstituted by the workings of Union citizenship law. It is precisely through the detailed description of the operations of EU citizenship law and acts that is has been possible to argue that one of the main results of the quasi-, sub- and anti-political work of EU citizenship is the production of European citizenship (as distinguished from EU citizenship - it comprises the whole dynamic resulting from the interaction of EU and national citizenship legislation, policies and spaces) and of a European territory as forms of a specific European statehood. The thesis that the whole EUCITISPACEII project has sought to prove is that the territorial and spatial dimension lies at the heart of the process of redefining citizenship, which bears a close relation to its sub-, anti- and quasi-political nature (this aspect corresponds to the second main aim of the project, relating to the redefinition of EU citizenship in relationship to its geographical and territorial dimension). The relation between economic justifications and geographical proximity, between EU citizenship and enlargement, shows that territory and the spatial dimension constitute a repressed element in the European construction, and that they lie at the centre of a process of neutralising politics, in two senses: by contributing to this neutralisation (the technical dimension of territory) and contrariwise via resistance (the active and material dimension of territory). Once it has been redefined, Union citizenship has been used in the present project as a analytical device to gauge the ways in which state forms get reconstituted at the European level. The notion of a state form as understood here is close to that of a state’s disposition: “the effects of the state are traceable, observable and assignable in their empirical moorings and their own spaces of mobility. [...] Such a perspective allows one to progress from an abstract notion of the constitution of the state towards the idea of its material constitution, not by invalidating general and principled claims (including those that derive from sociology) but also their embodiment in concrete arrangements, configurations and effects. It can be said that it is in this combination that a new form of state organisation emerges” (Linhardt, 2009). Thus citizenship should be understood as a quasi-statist form of organisation. Indeed, only by reflecting on the material and historical preconditions on which forms of citizenship rest can one grasp their central role in every state system. The major scientific result of the present project has been to describe and to show how legal workings of EU citizenship thus produce a European territory that has to be understood in relational terms, as the contingent and dynamic result of the production of the three dimensions of territory and state-space. They are the legal and institutional one, which is produced by EU citizenship law, the material and political dimension, which is enacted through the concrete practices of mobility of citizens and by the concrete enactment of legal dispositifs, and the representational one, that includes the epistemological categories through which citizens represent the EU as a territory and as a geographical, legal, political and social space.

The scientific work that has been conducted through the present project has at the same time a wider social impact. Indeed, at present the project of European integration is more and more discussed and put into question in the public controversies. As such, the present work can represent a contribution to clarifying the terms of the debate for what concerns EU citizenship and the EU as a political, geographical and economic space. In particular, the researcher, Teresa Pullano, has organized a one-day workshop at the European Parliament on the current challenges for European citizenship in times of economic crisis, together with the ERC funded Oecumene Team led by Engin Isin of the Open University, London. The workshop involved both EU policymakers and members of the European Parliament, as well as representatives from Ngos and a wider public. Around a hundred people attended the conference in Brussels. Teresa Pullano has also been invited by the Heinrich Böll Foundation as an independent expert to talk about European citizenship and the current legitimacy and economic crisis investing the EU at public debates held in Brussels and Berlin. She also contributed, as independent expert, to the political debates animated by the Foundation on their website, with three papers on Southern Europe and the crisis, on the issue of unemployment as a threat to social stability and cohesion in Europe, and on the possibility of developing a transnational and European model of development based on green economy. The Ulb also provided the resources to realize a video on the EUCITISPACE project. Teresa Pullano also participated to the Marie Curie stand at the EU Open Day event that took place at the European Commission in May 2013. These activities testify that the contents developed by the present project can also benefit a wider audience than the academic one. Parts of the results of the project have also been presented at an academic conference at the University of Fudan, Shanghai, China. This also testifies of the benefits of disseminating innovative research about European integration beyond European and Western audiences.