Citizenship instead of nationality

By Lars Næsbye Christensen

Home Forums 06. Article IV – Organization of the Executive Branch Citizenship instead of nationality

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
  • #2500

    Section I, Article 3: I think we should replace ‘nationality’ with ‘citizenship’, since the Federation will become a nation in its own right under international law and the member states will cease to be nations from that point.

    AvatarChrister Lundquist

    This is, in my opinion, not a good idea. A federation consists of member states. Part of the point of the Constitution is to preserve and uphold the wonderful diversity of Europe. Presenting this to the public as the rise of a superstate where millennia-old nations and identities cease, will undoubtedly cause a major, MAJOR blowback AND resistance: For example, some European nations, Scandinavia +++, have been monarchies for a thousand years. The support for a constitutional monarchy in Norway is 95%. If people perceive that we will lose our king (and flag?) and statehood by joining, the whole project is dead on arrival. Norwegians are very content with having a non-political head of state (and a wonderful, kind grandfather figure at that – a figure that every citizen, regardless of political views, can respect and rally behind in moments when national unity is paramount). Only far left, small parties want a republic instead. Our democracy is nevertheless rated as one of the best in the world, so there is no contradiction between for example a modern monarchy and a highly developed, inclusive democracy.

    I believe this has been expressed by the Board/Leo et al in earlier writings, too.


    In that case there is a surprising premise for this whole federal constitution I did not know, and which I must have been overlooking. If the current nation states are to remain nation states under international law, then how can we get out of the intragovermental swamp the EU is in and which – as I understand it – has been the foundation for the whole idea of a federation. Where is the gain if the federation does not become an actual nation?

    Flags and monarchies will not need to change, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, UK etc. can have their heads of state as before. But there is a difference between state and nation. North Dakota is a state in the federal nation USA, Hesse is a state (Land) in the federal nation Germany, Victoria is a state in the federal nation Australia.

    The states remain, but they pool their collective nationhood in the European Federal Union.

    AvatarJakub Jermar

    Let me contribute with my understanding of what a federation is and how it comes together, or rather how it should come together in the ideal case. Of course, there are entire papers and toolkits written on the topic, but just for a summary, this is how I view it (and I am no federalist scholar). In the beginning there are some independent states with citizens. The citizens of each individual state are the source of sovereignty for that state. They either created that state or at least maintain it. Ultimately they decide everything. At some point, they realize that their state is too ineffective for the tasks they assigned to it and too ineffective for the reasons they created / maintain their state for. And they see there are like-minded citizens in the neighboring states with overlapping interests. They realize that together they can become citizens (one people) of a new state with respect to the few tasks that are better done on that new bigger level and to the shared interests. They write down the constitution to create a new state (or a republic) that exists in parallel (i.e. not above) with the original states. As the people of the new state and the people of the original states they reassign the powers so that the few tasks and powers are given to their new common state while the rest stays with the old original states. Thus each individual citizen is a citizen of at least two states: their original state and the new state (the federal level). In fact it is the citizens shared between the federation and the original states that glue the states to the federation. I would go as far as to say that the states are not members of the federation in the traditional sense, the individual pieces are just held together by the common citizens (and their will) and the constitution (i.e. the expression of the citizens’ will; and yes, the constitution limits the states and also gives them some voice on the federal level).


    I agree with your overall presentation and definition, Jakub.

    It still does not change my mind with regards to what is a nation in Westphalian sense and how forming a federation will lead to an overall reduction in the number of nations as represented in the United Nations. Multiple entities remain states with states rights and duties, but one nation is formed with the power to sign treaties that nations can be parties to.

    If I am wrong, and we seek a dual, parallel representation like the current EU member states have – with the member states as full members and the federation as an observer or other limited ambassador – I am afraid we will not build a federation that is capable of handling the issues facing us much better than the EU does.

    Then might we as well not go over to the CoFoE forums and chip away at the treaties of the EU, arguing in favour of transnational party lists and similar?

    AvatarGiuseppe Martinico

    Let’s say that the positions are both understandable and reflect a different vision of the reality we want to build.

    In many contexts nationality and citizenship would be seen as synonyms, but from a legal point of view they are not always so. Today, comparative law shows us that the concept of nationality is not always relevant. The Spanish constitution expressly distinguishes between nation and nationality. In American law, the basic rule is the INA, theImmigration and Nationality Act (INA)
    I quote a colleague “The term “nationality” also exists in the INA, but its historical unimportance in U.S. law has left its relationship to citizenship somewhat ambiguous. “Nationality” and “citizenship” are clearly not interchangeable, however. The INA defines “nationality” as the quality of “owing permanent allegiance to a state.”[96] Thus it has always been clear that not all nationals are citizens.[97] What is not clear is whether all citizens must be nationals. Consider, for instance, the expatriation statute: “A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality . . . .”[98] The statute mentions nationality six times, and citizenship not once. Strict construction of the INA thus contemplates people losing their “permanent allegiance to the United States,” but does not indicate that these expatriates must also lose the benefits and burdens of U.S. citizenship laid down elsewhere in the Statutes at Large” (source:https://jeanmonnetprogram.org/archive/papers/97/97-10.html)

    Personally, I would opt for citizenship, after all it is a concept that is also found in multinational federations such as Canada. I believe that Canada, more than the United States, should be our model.
    In the same way, to protect national diversity, we could introduce an article or paragraph similar to Article 4.2 TEU, according to which the “ The Union shall respect the equality of Member States before the Treaties as well as their national identities, inherent in their fundamental structures, political and constitutional, inclusive of regional and local self-government”.

    AvatarChrister Lundquist

    I may have overlooked the nuance in Lars’ words «member states will cease to be nations from that point». I read it (maybe as a citizen being presented with the Constitution for the first time) as the devil’s advocate: That what we perceive as our historical, cultural and political entities called both nations and states would have to cease to exist. Now I see your point, which is valid: «Nations» is not what will make up the federation. States are. Member states.
    The era of nationalism should have been over a long time ago, in my opinion. The notion that arose and grew strong in the 1800’s has caused countless problems/wars etc. A federal Europe will eventually result in the fading of nations/nationalism, and its ugly sides, and people get used to thinking of their country as a state.
    This is a semantic problem, though, when people will be presented with the concept. From a PR viewpoint.


    Dear Guiseppe,

    Thank you for a really interesting comparison. The previous discussion about nations notwithstanding, I sense that ‘citizenship’ is a better term if we want to talk about civil rights.

    You also inspired me to look closer at the Canadian constitution. It does indeed mention ‘citizen’ everywhere and not ‘national’, and it guarantees both rights for ‘everyone’ and for ‘citizens’.
    Perhaps we do not need to elaborate as much as the Canadian constitution does, since much is covered in the Article I, Section 3 where we adhere to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Federal Union.


    Dear Christer. Okay, then it makes much more sense to me 🙂

    I have myself found the consequences of federalisation to be much bigger than just ‘we will cooperate in a better way’ which is where I started out. And I too thought that the constitutional monarchy of Denmark would then be thrown out. I am a ‘soft’ republican in that regard – as long as they behave nicely and don’t overstep their role they can stick around.

    Perhaps the FAEF could crowdsource a piece of text lining up the possible consequences. I once tried to do the same here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1S6eRg9ECLVw7wRaOzMPbc9o4nn-wZxnxfwoqw1X3SW0 but never got very far…..

    AvatarHerbert Tombeur

    I try to contribute to conclude on this subject, as follows. There is a content difference between two couples of notions discussed above:

    1° citizenship does not equal nationality, as citizenship does assume a membership of a public governance, whether it has a local (a village, …, a city), a regional (= provincial) or a national (state) dimension and it does not exclude civil rights for foreigners, i.e. a person not enjoying the state nationality in the territory concerned – an example is local voting rights in EU-states for nationals of other EU-states;

    2° a federal organisation is not restricted to states, to public governance over all, as federalism is an organisation system which can be used also in a private sphere, e.g. the management for common areas in private apartment buildings, and, moreover, a European Federation (EF) does not assumes automatically statehood in a classic way, reminding violence monopoly – let us suppose that the EF does not have an army nor police power.

    To end with, I do join those who look at other federations than the USA, especially those which are multi-linguistic/religious like Canada, India and Switzerland.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
en_GBEnglish (UK)