European Citizenship and EU Immigration: A Demoi‐cratic Bridge between the Third Country Nationals' Right to Belong and the Member States' Power to Exclude

AuthorFrancesca Strumia
Published date01 July 2016
Date01 July 2016
European Citizenship and EU Immigration:
A Demoi-cratic Bridge between the Third
Country NationalsRight to Belong and the
Member StatesPower to Exclude*
Francesca Strumia**
Abstract: European citizenship entails, for EU nationals, a right to belong across borders.
This article questions the implications of this latter right for the status of third country
nationals in the EU. It contributes to address a gap between the literature on European
citizenship and the literature on the admission and civic integration of third country
nationals. The article begins by tracing a disconnect in the rules and narratives on admission
and naturalisation of third countrynationals in the EU. Thisis a disconnect between logicsof
individual rights protection, which European citizenship inf‌iltrates, and logics of state
sovereigntyand governmental discretion,which otherwise dominate relevantrules and narra-
tives. The article relies on the political science literature on mutual recognition and
demoicracy to reinterpret European citizenships norm of belonging across borders so as to
reconcile the disconnect. Ultimately, the theoretical bridge that the article draws between
citizenship narratives and immigration narratives offers a novel perspective on the tension
between liberalvalues and integration discoursesin Europe. It also sets out a possible frame
to begin rethinking rules of engagement and cooperation in the context of the EU common
immigration policy.
I Introduction
In January 2015, Lassana Bathily saved a number of people in a French supermarket
from death at the hands of ruthless terrorists. As a reward, in March 2015, he was
awarded French citizenship.
Rani Pushpa, an Indian woman, failed to learn Italian
* All websites referred in the paperwere last checked on May 25th, 2016.
** Lecturer in Law, University of Sheff‌ield. I am very grateful to Dora Kostakopoulou, Kalypso Nicolaïdis,
Eleanor Spaventa, Daniela Caruso,Paul James Cardwell, Tammy Hervey, Peter Spiro, Leila Hadj-Abdou
and NataliaStepaniuk for their insightfulcomments on earlierversions of this article. I received very helpful
feedbackon earlier drafts of this articleat the Oxford UniversityFaculty of Law EU Discussion groupand at
the Universityof Sheff‌ield MigrationResearch Network SeminarSeries, and I am trulygrateful to the partic-
ipants in those occasions. Thankyou also to Agustín José Menéndez, for his remarkable editorial care and
pointedsuggestions, andto the anonymous reviewerswhose commentshelped improvethe f‌inal version of this
Availa ble at
European LawJournal, Vol. 22, No. 4, July2016, pp. 417447.
© 2016 John Wiley& Sons Ltd. 9600 Garsington Road,Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK
and 350 Main Street,Malden, MA 02148, USA
in 10 years of Italian residence. As a sanction, in March 2015, she was prevented from
taking the oath of Italian citizenship.
In June 2015, the beaches around Ventimiglia on
the border between Italy and France portrayed a disheartening scenario: bathing
European citizens looking for a tan, and homeless third country asylum seekers, hoping
to cross into France despite the French police pushbacks, and meanwhile looking for
These disparate stories point in a common direction. Inclusion of a third country
national (hereafter, TCN) as a citizen, residentor just temporary visitor in a EU Member
State dependsin good part on governmental discretion in decidingon inclusion and exclu-
sion. Yet belongingin a EU Member State at its fullestentails a supranational citizenship,
which limits governmental discretion ina number of ways.
This articlefocuses precisely on how European citizenship affects, in thissense, the rules
of the immigrationgame. It questions how Europeancitizenship rules matterfor the status
and rights of TCNsin the EU, and how European citizenships underlying rationales may
contribute to rethinkrules of engagement and of cooperationin the context of a common
European immigration policy.
The quest may seem ill-def‌ined, at a time when European citizenships relevance to
Europe and to the project of integration is under threat from several perspectives. First,
the right of free movement in which European citizenship f‌inds most concrete expression
is in practice relevant to few, but has drawn the attention of many in Euro-skeptical
political agendas, and has ultimately become exposed to judicial backlash.
European citizenships political irrelevance becomes egregious at a time when Europe is
confronted with harsh expressions of national voice and tangible threats of exit. Finally,
European citizenships rights-protection legacy appears nullif‌ied by the dehumanising
experience of several TCNs at Europes frontiers.
It is precisely the dangerof rushed demise, under the inf‌luence of these perspectives, of
one of the richest conceptual achievements of Euro pean integration that makes this
articles investigation pressing. The article argues that European citizenship harbors an
important theoretical acquis that is worth exploring further. It endeavors to spell out part
of this acquis, by focusing on its relevance for the EU immigration regime. It begins by
tracing a disconnect throughout rules, narratives and rationales resulting, respectively,
of European citizenships engagement with TCNs, and of the EU common immigration
policy and the Member Statesimmigration and nationality regimes. This is a disconnect
between logics of individual rights protection, which European citizenship inf‌iltrates into
the domain of immigration and nationality, and logics of state interest and discretion
which otherwise prevail in the latter domain, informing the recognised states power to
decide on admission and exclusion of aliens.
The article ultimately draws a conceptual
model of European citizenship linking its internal (i.e. free movement of EU nationals)
and external (i.e. inclusion of TCNs) functions through notions of mutual recognition
Available at http://www.huff‌ The de-
cision was laterreverted. See infra para.II.
Available at
See.g. Case C-333/13, Dano, EU:C:2014:2358.
See e.g. ECtHR, Sen v. Netherlands, Appl. No. 31465/96, judgment of 21 December 2001, para. 36: as a
matterof well-established international lawand subject to its treatyobligations, a State hasthe right to control
the entry of non-nationals intoits territory.
European Citizenship and EU ImmigrationJuly 2016
© 2016 John Wiley& Sons Ltd.418

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