Third Country Nationals as European Citizens:
The Amsterdam Treaty bolsters Union Citizenship in order to bring the European Union closer to the citizens of Europe1. Inadvertently, this strategy gives citizens of non-EU states an inferior status in the European Union, even though they may be semi-permanent residents in a Member State. Union Citizenship increases the social and political exclusion of third country nationals, in violation of the basic democratic principle that those affected by social institutions should also enjoy political levers of influence.
The paper first briefly sketches a Liberal Contractualist defence for awarding this group full citizenship in the relevant Member State, arguing in particular for three somewhat contested issues, that
a) third country nationals should not only enjoy Union Citizenship, but also be given national citizenship in the Member State of residence.
b) Member states may impose conditions, oaths etc. on such prospective citizens.
c) Member States may withhold some privileges from those resident third country nationals who refuse to be naturalised.
The paper goes on to present and discuss, only to dismiss, the most plausible arguments offered in defence of current practice within the context of a Europe of open borders for Member State citizens. These arguments seek to deny citizenship to third country nationals in order
a) To protect national and locally endorsed values ensuring social homogeneity of the community;
b) To exclude people with non-liberal values;
c) To ensure commitment to a shared future which warrants democratic rights in the first place;
d) To avoid instability caused by citizens with conflicting multiple loyalties;
e) To ensure and foster the ideal of active political participation, impossible for dual citizens;
f) To avoid backlash problems among current EU citizens which threaten the stability of welfare policies of Member States and the EU.
When asking "whose Europe", 10 million inhabitants are not part of the answer. They are 'third country nationals': nationals of non-EU states, residing lawfully in the EU. They have no right to move within the Union, nor can they vote in municipal or European Parliamentary elections, unlike citizens of Member States who also enjoy 'Union Citizenship'. Ironically, 'Union Citizenship' was established with the aim of bringing the Union closer to its citizens. But by putting citizens first, Union Citizenship treats these third country nationals as second class.
The European Union Migrants' Forum puts the challenge eloquently:
the present situation undermines the Union's expressed commitment to the elimination of racial discrimination, racism and xenophobia, and the integration of settled migrants.
Discrimination and xenophobia is evidenced by the hesitant response to such new categories as "Islamic Europeans", and more urgently, racially motivated attacks on "guest workers" in many Member States. What it is to be a European must be reconsidered.
Third country nationals, nearly 3 % of the EU population (Eurostat 1998), must be part of the answer to the question "whose Europe." This is in line with the European Commission, which recognises that
integration policies must be directed in a meaningful way towards improving the situation of third country nationals legally resident within the Union by taking steps which will go further towards strengthening their rights relative to those citizens of the member states. (1994).
The important question is how third country nationals should be included.
This paper defends the position that third country nationals must be offered citizenship in their country of residence. These countries include Germany, which hosts many from Central European countries and from Turkey; France with large Moroccan and Algerian populations; as well as the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom. The liberalisation of naturalisation criteria recently announced in Germany is an example to be applauded. The solution of offering Union citizenship is not enough, as this citizenship supervenes on citizenship proper, and is not enough to ensure the standing of third country nationals as equals.
Section 1 provides a brief historical overview, focussing on the upshot of the Amsterdam Treaty. Section 2 focuses on the normative case for citizenship generally. Section 3 presents the normative case for a particular treatment of third country nationals. Three somewhat contested issues are addressed. Third country nationals should not only enjoy Union Citizenship, but also be given national citizenship in the Member State of residence. Member states may impose conditions such as oaths on such prospective citizens. Thirdly, Member States may withhold some privileges from those resident third country nationals who refuse to be naturalised. Section 4 considers and rebuts objections to this position.
1 Historical backdrop and the upshot of Amsterdam
Union Citizenship is a bundle of legal rights and powers, most prominently including the right to move and reside freely within the Member States, the right to vote and run in European Parliament elections from the country of residence, and to run for and vote in municipal elections where one resides (Art. 8).
Three reasons are often cited in favour of Union Citizenship:
a) the perceived need to facilitate free movement, first for workers, by removing the negative effects of being foreigners (Preuss 1996: 139);
b) the need to foster some sense of European identity, partly through
c) a shared sense of the normative legitimacy of the European order, as consistent with central norms and ideals of European democracies.
The Amsterdam Treaty (art. 81) furthers these aims by awarding individuals rights and powers over Community institutions, thus fostering trans-border options and interdependencies (Preuss 1995: 280; Breton 1995, Laffan 1996: 97, Guild 1996). By its choice of the term 'citizenship' the Treaty clearly joins the tradition of state building, where civil, economic and social citizenship has been used to further perceived legitimacy. (Closa 1992; Welsh 1993; Mouffe 1992, 17).
The Amsterdam Treaty makes efforts on several fronts to further these goals. It seeks to reduce the so-called 'democratic deficit' by increasing the powers of the European Parliament; it strengthens the rule of law in granting the European Court of Justice jurisdiction over art. F (2) TEU regarding compliance with the European Convention for the protection of Human Rights. And the Amsterdam Treaty seeks to increase citizens' opportunities for comprehension and control of Union institutions, thus bolstering the significance of European Citizenship (For overviews cf. Nentwich and Falkner 1997; Petit 1998).
Several of these measures seek to enhance stability and compliance among citizens. However, these measures also threatens long-term stability, since third country nationals are ignored. EU law solidifies the cleavage between European voters and the non-European, non-voting residents of the EU (Weil 1996). The perceived need is to build shared interests, identity and support among Member State citizens. Therefore the scope of persons accorded Union Citizenship is not expanded: article 8 was only changed to stress that "Citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship". Several proposals for reform have been suggested (Wiener 1997, Kostakopoulou 1997: 16-18), exploring and expanding the notion of citizenship in different ways.
2 The general case for citizenship
Citizenship is an important and widely held office in democracies, and rights of political participation are in the core of powers specifying this office. This is one of the main reasons why the Amsterdam Treaty relies on the concept of Union Citizenship.
Citizenship is a practice which regulates the relationship of individuals to the bodies of governance to which they are subject. The bundles of rules which shape such practices of citizenship specify the powers, liabilities, rights and immunities which hold between the two. Citizens should enjoy roughly equal institutionalised influence over policy formulation and implementation.
The normative justification of these political rights rests on two normative claims, as found e.g. within the tradition of liberal contractualism (John Rawls 1971, Charles Beitz 1989). Firstly, a commitment to equal respect requires that social institutions can be justified in terms of their effects on all affected parties - on citizens and non-citizens alike.
Secondly, one of our important interests is to influence the institutions and culture which in turn shape us. The value of this interest is paramount within modern states, where some individuals enjoy centralised control over the basic institutional frameworks under central control, and where, historically, the social institutions have been inescapable.
The focus on formal rights in this paper should not be taken to deny importance of belonging and 'access' ((- cf. Wiener and Della Sala 1997). Rather, rights are important background conditions which frame individuals' perceptions of belonging and opportunities for common projects and future.
The political rights of citizenship gives expression to the general norm that those affected by the use of public power should also be in a position to influence that use. Moreover, as persons equally worthy of respect, the individuals subject to public rule should also have an equal say in how they should be ruled. Without such political rights, individuals remain subjects.
With increased migration and exit options the value for individuals of such controls might be on the wane. However, the condition of permanently resident non-nationals point to a fundamental inconsistency in current citizenship practice both within many states and within the European Union as a whole (Bauböck 1994, 220; Meehan 1993).
The inconsistency between practice and central liberal values may be regarded as most obvious relative to universal human rights norms (Soysal 1994: 159; 1996: 18), or relative to national norms and practices of membership (Carens 1989). Either way, the commitment to equal respect, combined with a recognition of the pervasive impact of social institutions, is incompatible with the current legal status of third country nationals of the European Union.
Third country nationals enjoy human rights protections within each Member State and often enjoy local voting rights as a matter of national legislation. Yet they are not included in the scope of individuals acknowledged as full Union Citizens by the treaties of the Union -- while they are often as profoundly affected by the European political order as any Member State citizen. Invisible in the eyes of the European polity, they are socially dead in the political order of the European Union2.
3 Some Details in the Normative Case
Permanent resident non-European nationals are drastically affected by the institutions they live under, yet they are not allowed to influence the institutions through voting rights. They are a class of permanent residents in the European Union prevented from obtaining equal legal status as other permanent inhabitants -- a position which is in no way reconcilable with the liberal contractualist commitment to equal respect.
The policy regarding third country nationals that I wish to defend shares with several others an insistence that legal long-time residents should have the right of optional naturalisation to become national citizens -- and hence Union Citizens -- under certain conditions, e.g. along the lines of US practice. (Hammar 1990, Walzer 1981, 1983, Carens 1989, Bauböck 1997)3. However, it has some features which distinguish it from some other suggested alternatives. Three aspects require some attention before considering objections to such practices.
Only a combination of national and Union Citizenship provides individuals with satisfactory control over the social conditions which shape their lives. Permanent residents must therefore be offered the same combination of citizenships. This is because both national citizenship and Union Citizenship will endure, as underscored by Article 8 (1) of the Treaty on European Union: "Citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship."
To be sure, union citizenship may gradually replace the emotional, legal and cultural significance of national citizenship - for better or worse. It may lead to an organic European identity (Weiler and Mayer 1995: 15, Weiler 1996), and may prevent harmonisation of national traditions (Bauböck 1997). Until then, both national and Union citizenship must be available to third country nationals.
The European Migrants' Forum has argued otherwise. They have maintained that extending Union citizenship "to lawfully resident third country nationals would provide true equality of treatment in the fundamental areas of application of Community law." (1996). Their view partly stems from the realisation that naturalisation to Member States may be politically more difficult. However, the recent liberalisation in Germany indicates that policies may change. And providing third country nationals with Union Citizenship is simply not enough, as long as that bundle of powers is designed to supplement Member State citizenship.
b Member states may impose conditions such as oaths
The case for granting political rights rests on two assumptions: that the resident alien intends to remain in the territory over a long period, and that she shares a commitment to a limited and specifiable set of civic values. These values include democratic decision-making and "constitutional patriotism", regarded as general compliance with and endorsement of certain procedural principles (Habermas 1992).
Liberal contractualism allows a state to require not only a commitment to formal decision-making procedures, but also a commitment to substantive principles of distributive justice for the European polity (Føllesdal 1997). Thus it may be reasonable to ask prospective citizens to give public expression to their willingness to be guided by their sense of justice: compliance with law and furtherance of the common good as they see it, where appropriate. Thus oaths of allegiance, or other evidence of socialisation, may be in order. France, for instance, requires a five year residence, and knowledge of the French language (Weil 1996, 76). Germany requires a 'commitment' to German culture as well as knowledge of the language (Fulbrook 1996, 94). But details of the common weal are contested, so for this reason oaths promising to further the interests of the new nation state should be relatively vague. The reason why it may be legitimate to require such an oath, is that resident aliens may not have been socialised into the requisite sense of justice, while for those born in the territory, such socialisation presumably occurs through schools and civic society.
In light of the need for indicators of socialisation, it seems insufficient to award citizenship on the basis of domicile alone, as Kostakopoulou has maintained (1997: 9). The difference is background between resident aliens and others would warrant oaths, some evidence of good character and the like, e.g. as discussed by O'Keefe (1994: 105, criticised by Kostakopoulou 1997). Insofar as such conditions can be justified on the basis of relevant differences regarding the likely socialisation, these conditions cannot be dismissed as expressing qualified respect.
A commitment on behalf of third country nationals to remain in the territory, however, seems unwarranted. We must bear in mind that with free movement this is not a condition generally expected of other citizens of Member States. Satisfactory blocks against serial and opportunistic changes in citizenship -- by resident aliens as well as others -- may still be appropriate.
c Member States may withhold some privileges from those able but unwilling to be naturalised
From the perspective of Liberal Contractualism it may be accepted that Member States withhold some privileges, such as political rights tied to national parliaments, from those resident third country nationals who refuse to be naturalised.
Rainer Bauböck (1994) appears to hold a different view, namely that all foreigners should enjoy all political rights as soon as they satisfy residence requirements (227). Choosing naturalisation, then, has virtually no legal implications, though it has important symbolic significance. The basis for Bauböck's view is a particular conception of consent taken to be central to contractualist views. The concern seems to be that foreigners should not be faced with a choice between giving up their existing citizenship which provides meaning to their life project, and on the other hand living their lives as aliens under social institutions beyond their influence. Too much is at stake either way. It is not clear why these alternatives place individuals in a bind which makes choice among them illegitimate -- in particular given the plausibility of insisting that those who have power to control the shaping of common institutions and policies must be committed (in some modest way) to a common national weal and future.
This part of the paper presents and discusses, only to dismiss, the most plausible arguments offered against allowing third country nationals to become citizens, within the context of a Europe of open borders for Member State citizens.
a Protect national and locally endorsed values ensuring social homogeneity of the community
Existing common values, culture or mores are sometimes claimed to be worth maintaining "for their own sake", and including resident aliens as full citizens is regarded as a threat to the maintenance of such national cultural homogeneity (Woodward 1992: 82). Similar arguments may be offered against permitting third country nationals into the community of European states, which are alleged to share certain liberal, democratic or Christian values incompatible with the values of the third country nationals.
As a blanket justification for excluding third country nationals such 'communitarian' arguments are open to three general charges: two empirical, and one normative. Firstly, the empirical claim that there is, in each state, exactly one dominant set of norms and values which is generally held and accepted, and which includes norms of exclusion of others, seems dubious to say the least - and even more so at the European level. Individuals within a Member State hold competing conceptions of the good, each of which is often internally inconsistent. Moreover, many of these conceptions, as well as the dominant cultures in such democracies, are committed to human rights, including norms of toleration of cultural variation.
Secondly, let's assume for the sake of the argument that diversity among inhabitants might become a threat to internal homogeneity. It still seems blatantly implausible to hold that letting third country nationals enjoy voting rights pose such a risk, while intra-EU mobility of persons, which is accepted by all Member States, is no reason for concern. The EU Member States already include many citizens of non-Christian faiths, and respect for religious minorities within European states has been embedded - at least in principle - since the Peace of Westphalia. Thus, third country nationals with non-Christian or otherwise different world views do not signal anything completely new, but rather draws attention to some pre-existing tensions in the liberal heritage of Europe.
The third, normative objection is that cultural homogeneity or survival of a culture in the abstract cannot plausibly be granted much value in arguments about a just political order maintained by force. This is not because liberalism in general dismisses culture, understood as shared practices, values or beliefs. Such an interpretation seems blatantly at odds with much recent liberal thought (including Rawls 1988, Macedo 1990, Gutmann 1985, Buchanan 1989, Føllesdal 1998). The point is instead that Liberal Contractualism is committed to normative individualism -- that it is only interests of individuals which can form the basis for claims on such issues. Relevant interests can, of course, include interests in joint projects, and in developing interests in interaction with others -- there is no atomistic inclination in this view (contrary to criticism by, e.g. Taylor 1979). Maintaining cultural homogeneity must thus be defended in terms of its importance for individuals. Why, then, is culture important? Culture, understood as the background pattern of practices and beliefs, makes life projects possible and worthwhile, and enables us to form and pursue expectations. Citizenship rights and duties are aspects of some such practices. A plausible case against abrupt institutional and cultural change can be made on the basis of our interest in controlling cultural change to maintain legitimate expectations, and thus give meaning to our life (Barry 1991).
This should lead us to agree that knowledge of local culture and traditions is important because changes must accommodate expectations built on such existing practices. But this hardly suffices to rule out all claims of others which may lead to cultural and institutional changes over time (Føllesdal 1996). Furthermore, the normative standing of an existing culture depends on whether its substantive content satisfies certain minimum standards of legitimacy.
It seems incompatible with Liberal Contractualism to require of one another more than a commitment to shared civic values and a sense of justice -- to comply with and further just institutions, domestically and at the European level. Commitment to the "national culture", or "the European social model", specified as an extensive set of social rights, would be too strict and controversial a condition to impose (Wiener and Della Sala 1997: 610), attractive as it might seem from the Liberal Contractualist perspective (Føllesdal 1997). Moreover, no shared culture can be protected against all democratically induced change.
We move on, therefore, to consider two arguments offered in favour of maintaining a more circumscribed domain of existing culture and institutions, based on the need for social stability.
b Exclude people with non-liberal values
Immigration is sometimes regarded as a threat to stability. Reasons of national security would warrant the exclusion of subversives who reject the fundamental political virtues and social solidarity characteristic of Western democracies. This worry may fuel the unease in many Member States about Islamic resident aliens, reminiscent of the scepticism facing Jews and Catholics in 18th and 19th century England (Cesarani 1996, 60), and in many conflicts in Europe since.
The need for general compliance with legitimate social institutions seems unobjectionable, as is the need for broad acceptance of a limited set of civic virtues such as commitment to democratic procedures for conflict resolution, respect for the rule of law and the law of the land, compliance with human rights norms, and a sense of justice. Some such condition is compatible with Liberal Contractualism (Macedo 1990) - contrary to communitarian critics who at times doubt that liberals can insist on the need for any broadly shared values or commitments (Mulhall and Swift 1996, Føllesdal 1998). But the liberal contractualist view insists that the set of such shared goals is strictly limited.
We should also bear the dynamic aspects of EU legislation in mind: the requisite shared commitments to the common goals of the state and the EU are likely to develop and be shaped by the institutions and policies (Preuss 1995: 277-78).
It is difficult to see how this legitimate concern should lead us to deny citizenship rights to third country nationals in the EU. They have lived in a Member State for a long period of time, during which presumably any serious contempt for fundamental values is uncovered; they may be required to take an oath of upholding civic values, and their children will presumably also be socialised into the proper civil values. It is therefore unclear why third country nationals seeking citizenship should be regarded as more of a threat to public order and stability than other foreigners -- such as intra-EU migrants.
Moreover, as Carens notes, such restrictions would only apply if there was a real danger that the political order would be threatened -- were a critical mass of non-liberal minded individuals likely to form (Carens 1992: 29).
A final observation regarding this objection concerns the alleged 'clash of cultures' sometimes assumed, for instance when tensions are suggested between Islamic and Christian world views. There are shared values across "civilizations", and disagreements within them, sufficient to question whether conflicts about human rights, democracy or liberalism are due to a "Clash of Civilizations" (pace Huntington 1996). Some deplorable Western traditions have dismissed human rights well into this century, and there are strands and components of theories of human rights in many Non-Western normative traditions. For instance, a long-standing and broadly shared view on the responsible use of state power is that it must be used for the common good, understood as the good of present and future individual members of society. Such accounts are found in the Western natural law tradition (Finnis 1980, 168), but similar strands were also developed by the Islamic philosophers Ibn Abi-al-Rabi (9th century), Al-Farabi and Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) (cf. Ahmad 1965; An-Na'im 1990).
c Ensure commitment to shared future
Some have argued that members of a political system must have not only ethnic and civil attachments to the community, but a long term commitment (discussed by Laffan 1996: 89-90). Transient workers lack this commitment, and should therefore not enjoy political rights.
A charitable interpretation and elaboration of this objection may point to the preconditions justifying democratic rule in the first place: that those permanently affected by social institutions should also be able to influence them according to their conception of the common good and sense of justice. Insofar as some individuals are transient residents, they are unlikely to be subject to the rules they impose on others. Thus their claim to a share of power is likely to be unjustified. Here what is problematic is transience, rather than the lack of shared values.
This argument does not hold in particular against third country nationals. Transience and divergent culture are not characteristics unique to them among those who live in the European Union. Citizenship rights may well be extended conditional on renunciation of other citizenships, and a common policy of denying repatriation may also be introduced, to prevent serial citizenships. Moreover, citizenship may well be offered after a period of residence, possibly with a knowledge test, to ensure some acquaintance with the culture of the Member State.
Rainer Bauböck holds otherwise, that individuals may well be so tied to their country of origin that it is unfair to require such renunciation in order to obtain political rights in the new country. The contractualist approach developed here, however, suggests that this interest cannot reasonably be said to override the competing interest of citizens of the receiving country, to be assured that those sharing political power are wielding that power for the common good. We should also bear in mind that many naturalised immigrants may pursue projects tied to their old national identity regardless of whether they maintain that legal citizenship.
Moreover, these considerations cannot be decisive. Within a state, citizens typically enjoy local voting rights regardless of whether they intend to stay in a municipality during the rest of their life, thus permanence and shared values does not always seem to be relevant. Similarly, intra-EU citizens enjoy rights of free movement and Union Citizenship rights, without regard to permanence and shared values. Mutual commitment and shared future hardly seems plausible for this group, yet intra-EU movement is an intended effect of much EU legislation. This aspect of Europeanisation indeed challenges traditional democratic theory: how can we ensure that the electorate apply the proper long-term perspective on voting, when we can no longer assume that the electorate themselves will be affected by these laws? Increased travel between Member States may suggest that decisions should not made at the local level, but rather at the level within which travel is likely. Be this as it may, the exclusion of third country nationals from citizenship rights seems arbitrary.
Another interpretation of this argument may hold that third country nationals lack the requisite affective attachments with the European polity and its inhabitants. However, this interpretation rests on several contested assumptions about 1) the legitimate role of such attachments as a condition for political rights, since only a 'thinner' commitment to civic virtues and justice is appropriate as a condition for citizenship; 2) the need for such attachments among Europeans in the future; and 3) whether immigrants - and their children - are less likely to foster such attachments than are others.
d Avoid conflicting loyalties.
Third country nationals who become citizens of a Member State may experience dilemmas of multiple loyalties, since they can hardly be expected to abolish old ties and cultural values.
Some writers actually regard the possibilities for multiple political memberships as positive. Thus Meehan notes that Union Citizenship offers us "the opportunity to act on the fact that we have more identities than our nationality." (Meehan 1993: 155). However, others recognise that non-exclusive political memberships create dilemmas (Weiler 1995: 219; discussed by Shaw 1997). But note that such dilemmas are not unique to third country nationals: similar dilemmas occur for resident aliens who enjoy voting rights in municipal elections - as is the case for all resident aliens in the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and elsewhere. Moreover, related challenges occur for all citizens of Member States, since they must juggle Member State citizenship and Union Citizenship.
In what sense is dual citizenship a threat to state sovereignty? Rainer Bauböck points to four objections to multiple citizenship: conflicting loyalties, incompatibility of legal norms, evasion of citizen duties, and diminishing of citizen rights. (Bauböck 1997: section 1:3) However, it would appear that conflicting loyalties and incompatible legislation, as well as loopholes leading to evasion, can be regulated and avoided through better co-ordination among states and clarification of the powers of the EU. These tasks must be performed in any case, and solutions may well suit the plight of third country nationals as well. The general public may fear third country nationals instability less if the most glaring dilemmas are removed, and once there are measures which ensure against serial citizenship.
e Foster active political participation
A related objection focuses on the difficulty of being politically active in more than one political community. This drawback is lamented from the point of view of some civic republicans -- who would also criticise the statement of Union Citizenship for exclusively focussing on rights and ignoring citizenship duties4.
In response, note that granting citizenship in a Member State may well be made conditional on renouncing all other citizenships. However, active citizenship in the sense entertained by this objection seems inappropriate as an ideal within liberal contractualism: The view that lives are stunted in the absence of political engagement is contested and unsuitable as the basis for how the political order should be constructed5. Moreover, this worry holds as much against intra-EU migrants as against third country nationals.
f Avoid backlash among current Union citizens
One politically important objection against letting third country nationals become citizens is that the current population may feel threatened. The newcomers may be perceived as competitors for scarce resources, or as threats to established transfer schemes of social welfare. This is no doubt one cause of the social unrest and so-called 'xenophobic' reactions and political movements in Member States. Immigrants challenge the expectations and established life styles of the settled populations. The challenge, as Adrian Favell notes, is to maintain the social capital among citizens, in order to live securely among multiple cultures (Favell 1996: 12).
This is an important concern, and one which a publicly shared conception of the just European order could help address. It is not at all clear, however, that this fear will stem primarily from third country nationals -- nor that withholding citizenship from this particular group reduces the fear. Intra-EU mobility of workers pose an equally dire threat to livelihood and established mores. Part of the policy response may be to highlight naturalisation procedures, and thus convey to the general public that resident aliens are seeking full integration, and taking on the burdens entailed by full citizenship.
The paper has sketched a defence for offering citizenship to third country nationals, and has argued against several frequently voiced objections against this position.
This defence does not eliminate the practical problems of co-ordination, risks of free riding, cultural conflicts, or xenophobic harassment of the new citizens. The main claim is more limited, that policy changes must aim at offering them citizenship. A general policy of allowing naturalisation to third country nationals entails large adjustments and co-ordination among national legislations and policies to avoid conflicts. But drastic changes are forced upon Member States in any case, dealing with increased intra-EU migration and common immigration policies. The challenges of third country nationals are best met by cooperation and harmonisation among states, rather than by preventing citizenship (cf. Bauböck 1997).
The case of third country nationals is politically urgent, and illustrates how the developing European polity poses central challenges to received normative political and democratic theory. The fragmented past provides an insufficient normative basis for a stable and legitimate order under the new circumstances of open European borders.
No comprehensive agreement among all affected parties can be expected regarding shared values, shared history or shared future in Europe. Several centuries ago, conflicting conceptions of the good life in Europe led to the emergence of liberalism. Liberal thought may be developed further, to address the new challenges facing Europe. We must determine more clearly what Europeans must expect of one another in order to maintain stable nation states, within a stable and just European political order. Granting third country nationals citizenship is an important start.
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