Saturday, May 9, 2009

Citizenship: a dynamic policy vehicle in Europe

Next week the Migration Policy Institute organizes a symposium on "citizenship" Today it's Europe day and we are heading towards the European parliamentary elections. But we haven't heard much on "citizenship" from our Dutch politicians.

It's quite ironic that this conference is organized in Washington and not in Europe. Citizenship of the EU is considered problematic by most politicians in Europe. They don't know what to do with it, so they prefer to not even talk about it. We hear a lot of politicians mention the word "Europe" and defending national interest and stuff, or how Europe could benefit the economy if we had some coordination in the fight against the economic crisis.

But politicians stay silent when it comes to one of the central aspects of the EU treaty: citizenship. One of the reasons is probably that they don't consider citizenship at the core of the political debate within their own parties either. The buzzword has been "values" over the last decade. But globalisation is driving the issue of "citizenship" to the forefront at a very strong pace. Politicians in Europe have failed to notice or investigate this dynamic policy vehicle.

It's this lack of (a coherent) approach to citizenship that makes it possible for politicians on the far right, like Geert Wilders, to rise so high in the polls. I hope this symposium on "citizenship" organized by the Migration Policy Institute will open the door a new era. An era in which political parties help their consituencies to define their citizenship in a constructive and meaningfull way.

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