This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 320294

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EUROPEAN POLICY BRIEF: EUROPEAN POLITICAL CITIZENSHIP 2030: POSTDEMOCRACY WITH POPULIST ACTIVISM OR AN INTEGRATED POLITICAL AND SOCIAL CITIZENSHIP?

February 3, 2017

EUROPEAN POLITICAL CITIZENSHIP 2030: POSTDEMOCRACY WITH POPULIST ACTIVISM OR AN INTEGRATED POLITICAL AND SOCIAL CITIZENSHIP?
Policy scenarios and recommendations from bEUcitizen, a research project on the barriers to realise and exercise citizenship rights by European Union citizens

Written by
Oliver Eberl & Sandra Seubert

Drawing on research conducted during the project, this policy brief discusses the problems preventing European Union citizens from becoming active political citizens. European citizenship as active political citizenship has been underdeveloped from the start and is currently under strong pressure. Over time, European Union citizens seem to have lost enthusiasm for the European political process: Voter turnout in European Parliament elections decreased from 61,99% in 1979 to 42,61% in 2014. Attempts to transform elections for the European Parliament into a meaningful decision about the policies and the personnel of European institutions have been ineffective so far in two ways: On the one hand, they did not raise more
interest in European affairs; on the other hand, and even more problematically, the ‘Spitzenkandidaten’-experiment was overshadowed by the power struggle between national leaders and the European Parliament.
Although similar tendencies towards decreasing voter turnout can be observed in national elections, the trend of fading popular support is particularly alarming at the European Union level. It threatens to undermine the legitimacy and functionality of the European Union, thus jeopardizing the entire integration process. Institutions without support cannot last. The European Union provokes a rather negative political reaction among its citizens and populist activism is challenging its policies and the integration process more broadly. The Brexit decision expresses this problem in an ideal-typical form: Europe-friendly citizens do not use their right to vote while anti-European activism brings citizens to the ballot box. Concerned with this passivity as well as with the activism mobilised by anti-European populism, Europe-friendly observers and actors see a major opportunity for the European Union to strengthen the European Parliament as the core institution of a European representative democracy.

Click HERE to download the full policy brief.