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


Summary report: “Comparison of different experiences and rivalling identities and claims to citizenship elsewhere” (D4.10)

June 2, 2017

Executive Summary: Lessons for the EU
1. Accommodating diversity by balancing the claims of constituent political entities and citizens
This report builds on the results of WP4 and provides a succinct summary of the deliverables D4.1 to D4.9 focussing on the lessons they contain for the European Union. The EU has followed a process that is similar to our case studies (Switzerland, Canada, Spain, Czechia, Turkey, Estonia, Croatia, Israel) yet a few things have to be borne in mind before drawing conclusions:
– There is no broad consensus on EU integration as state-building
– The time-span in which the EU has evolved is much shorter than our case studies
– The speed at which the EU has integrated is also much faster than our case studies
Our case studies reveal two fundamentally different paths of addressing diversity and delivering solutions to respond to the rivalling claims of different communities. A first path consists of emphasizing and protecting differences, while at the same time building a common set of values that encompasses all communities within the territory. This is done either by a symmetrically federal (Switzerland) or asymmetrically decentralized constitutional design of statehood (Canada, Spain). The second path consists of emphasizing and protecting unity and homogeneity, whereas at the same time trying to minimize differences. Again with different degrees of success, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Israel and Turkey are examples from our case studies.
As for the EU, it seems that the model that comes closer to the integration process is the one that accepts and tries to protect diversity, while building a common set of values, a common identity and common political institutions. The common identity can only be a civic or political meta-identity and it needs to be embedded in a political model in which the EU is designed and perceived as the guarantee and not source of threat to the existence and identity of constituent communities. The resulting federal system must attach great value to the self-government of its constituent parts all the way down to the level of the city. By giving such top down guarantees the EU can foster bottom up support.
Freedom of movement is fundamental as a formal right, but it cannot be the overarching paradigm of citizenship that trumps all other collective and individual rights. Any federalist structure implies manifold formal and material barriers to movement that can sometimes only be removed at the cost of threatening self-government of the constituent parts. Two aspects are to be highlighted from our case studies in this respect: First, the Swiss case has shown that Swiss movers (equivalent to intra-EU movers) experience difficulties related to different languages and education/job systems, etc. These issues have been dealt with at the federal level. Yet overall, the Swiss state continues to promote commuting instead of moving, so that each canton can maintain autonomy in policy-making. Second, as for the outsiders (the equivalent of the non-EU migrants), Canada has applied a strong policy of control over immigration (in numbers) in coordination with the provinces, while at the same time promoting policies of non-stigmatization of immigrants.
2. Language policy at the core of multiculturalism
The EU has adopted a multicultural discourse that attempts to protect the culture of all member states, but official EU languages are determined by the nation-states as members and therefore possible internal discriminations in the nation-states are projected on to the European level. There is no apparent cultural discrimination by the EU, but languages that are not recognized as official languages by the nation-states are not official European languages, such as for instance Catalan. More recognition of the regional and municipal realities by the EU is advisable also in this respect.
3. Lessons from federal an unitary models for the EU
To apply lessons from the federal and confederal case studies that have been successful in accommodating rivalling claims of citizenship:
1. Reduce the centralistic element of intergovernmental centralism by further measures of decentralization in which the member-states are formally equal (ad opposed to ad hoc opt-outs);
2. Reduce the intergovernmental element of intergovernmental centralism by introducing double-majority schemes of direct democracy and other institutional linkages between the national and European levels of democracy such as competencies of national parliaments in European affairs. As the Swiss and Canadian cases show, this can lead to centralistic redistributive measures, but these are channelled through democratic procedures that respect the vertical structure of multi-layered governance.
3. To learn lessons from the unitary case studies that have been successful in accommodating rivalling claims to citizenship continue to reduce complexity as in the successful unitary cases such as Czechia. Many more exits of EU-sceptic states as the UK would be necessary in this unitary perspective. Ultimately, it this not viable for the EU.
4. To continue with ad-hoc agreements with single member states and start with de-centralization from the EU level to the member states. Larger asymmetries between member states might result in further discrimination of some citizens against others.
5. To promote solidarity and identity in the EU: Canada and Switzerland have been extremely successful in promoting a common national identity that is complementary with the regional one via the promotion and securitization of local autonomy, whereas it is much less so in the EU (Spain as another case that seems to have been less successful in this regard – also related to linguistic policies).
Since the EU is framed as a multicultural system, our case studies confirm that it plays a relevant role in protecting specific communities within the EU. It is the case of Roma, for example in the Czech Republic (also Croatia; also Turkey even if outside of the EU).
The EU helps to make the problems of these communities visible and to keep member states responsible about their rights.

For the full report please click here