Conference: 30 years of EU citizenship

21 November 2022

EU flags outside an office building

The conference will bring together internationally leading researchers in this area, who together will provide an overview of the Union’s citizenship today.

This year marks 30 years since European Union citizenship came into being. It will be highlighted at an international, interdisciplinary conference in Uppsala on 22–23 November. Both researchers and all those interested are welcome to attend.

Patricia Mindus is a professor of philosophy.
Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

The conference will be held in the Humanities Theatre and will bring together internationally leading researchers in this area, who together will provide an overview of the Union’s citizenship today. The opening speech will be given by Eleanor Sharpston, who was previously advocate general at the EU Court of Justice and has highlighted issues concerning the protection of Union citizens.

“We want to reach a broad target group. We’re not only aiming to attract researchers with an interest in this subject, but also the wider public – people who work within administration and at public authorities, journalists and perhaps even schools,” explains Patricia Mindus.

Interdisciplinary research

Mindus is a professor of philosophy active in multiple interdisciplinary research projects focused on citizenship. The research group involved in the Contributivism project will present a number of exciting research results concerning attitudes towards voting rights in various EU countries.

“We want to take a retrospective look at everything that has happened these past 30 years. Union citizenship has been criticised for excluding people on socioeconomic grounds, and there is talk nowadays of EU migrants despite the joint citizenship,” notes Mindus.

Citizenship is connected to democracy, as it is required in order to vote in a country. If financial requirements are set for obtaining citizenship, what will this entail for democracy?

“We believe that the idea of basing the right to vote on financial grounds is making a comeback. It sounds like an idea from the 19th century, but if you look at those who obtain citizenship during their lifetime, there are signs that this idea remains alive among Union citizens,” she adds.

Legislation often amended

According to Mindus, another aspect that has arisen over the past 30 years is that citizenship policy has become a political instrument.

“We amend our legislation increasingly often and rapidly, but not always in a considered way. Between 2013 and 2019, laws concerning citizenship changed over a hundred times across EU countries. This is linked to migration, as politicians think that citizenship policy can be used to control migration or to choose who can become a citizen.”

Among the speakers at the conference are Niamh Nic Shubhne from the Edinburgh School of Law, who will talk about the future of EU citizenship: “Union Citizenship: The Next Thirty Years?” Martin Steinfeld from Cambridge University will discuss European solidarity in connection with the war in Ukraine.

Flagged changes

The issue of EU citizenship is particularly current given the signalled changes to migration and citizenship policy proposed by the new government in Sweden. This also affects all Swedes who travel within the EU and have familial connections to Union citizens in other countries.

“Knowing what applies and how Union citizenship will change or has changed over time has an impact on our choices and courses of action throughout our lives,” notes Mindus.

Conference on EU citizenship

The conference is funded by the Swedish Research Council, the Knut & Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundations. It is being organised by the ‘Contributivism’ research project at the Uppsala Religion and Society Research Centre in collaboration with the Uppsala Forum on Democracy, Peace and Justice, which in turn is a collaboration between four of the faculties at the Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences (Law, Social Sciences, Languages and Arts).