Since the Treaty of Maastricht (1992) all nationals of EU member states hold EU citizenship too. EU citizens hold EU citizenship rights in addition to their national rights. These rights include civil, social, economic and political rights. Holding these rights does not guarantee actual participation: there are, for instance, increasingly concerns about (too) low voter turnout and a (too) low number of citizens participating in other activities related to political decision making. Therefore, there seems to be a quest for a European civic culture. Citizenship education, and more specifically European citizenship education, is seen as an important instrument to stimulate the development of a European civic culture.
This study shows that (governmental) policies and practices of citizenship education differ widely between the seven examined countries (the Netherlands, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Hungary). Citizenship education practices are, for instance, deeply related to the type of the democratic development, type of the democratic regime and social issues within the polity. Furthermore, the education practices show great variety of available teaching modules both in formal and informal way. There also seems to be a certain paradox between acknowledging the importance that civic education has for society, and political readiness to acknowledge that specific training is needed for teachers to be eligible to qualitatively educate and prepare students for their roles as active citizens.
However, all countries share a very similar approach regarding to the European dimension of citizenship: it is a highly neglected area within the national curriculum. The focus is dominantly on the factual and theoretical knowledge on the EU and especially its institutions rather than the promotion of values and the training of skills needed to exercise EU citizenship rights and needed for development of active, participating EU citizens. Hence, European citizenship education within the member states seems to be in its infancy. To develop a European civic culture, socialization and developing civic competencies are important. Therefore, it is important to strengthen and further develop European citizenship education. European citizenship teaching packages may help policymakers and teachers at the national level with these developments.
Moreover, considering the existing underdeveloped conceptualization and focus on EU dimension of citizenship in all studied cases, the introduction of (more) EU citizenship education has to be aware of at least two challenges. The first one stems from the generally dominant notion of elitist type of democracy of EU level, which is perceived to be dominated by the bureaucracy and disconnected to daily needs and practices of EU citizens. The role of EU citizenship education has to raise awareness on existence of interdependence of the decisions made on the EU level to the political consequences for national policies a practices of citizenship. The full emancipation of citizens can hardly be established even at the national level, if they are excluded from active participation at the decision making processes on the supranational level. The second challenge relates to the identity dimension of EU citizenship. There can hardly be EU without some sort of shared solidarity among its citizens. Citizenship education may not be a sufficient tool for achieving this goal, but it certainly is one of the most appropriate ones’ on the disposition of the member states.
For the full text click here: D8.10 final version