Schengen: “Let’s create a European passport to offer an integration airlock to migrants”

In the controversy over migration issues, the positions of each side are extraordinarily clear-cut. For some, migrants have no automatic right to access French territory and should only be accepted bit by bit, either because they can provide proof of refugee status and apply for asylum, or because they have an economic value that makes them indispensable. For the others, respect for human rights requires above all systematic and non-discriminatory access to French territory, even before examining the acceptability of their approach.

Despite their differences in philosophy, these two approaches have one thing in common: they consider m as manipulable objects, and not as subjects, people animated by a will and their own project. But what is the project of the migrants? It is not only to flee a country at war or economic distress, it is also to integrate into a democratic society, ours or that of our neighbours. From their point of view, the real long-term perspective, the ultimate goal of their approach, is to acquire the nationality of a Member State, a goal that is not illusory, but clearly distant and uncertain, dependent on long, costly and variable procedures depending on the host country.

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But Europe could offer migrants a less distant and less uncertain perspective: that of European citizenship. Indeed, the concept of European citizenship is today a concept with practically no added value: any individual holding the nationality of a Member State is automatically a European citizen (and often without knowing it). The concept of European citizenship is only the collection of rights linked to the membership of the country of its nationality in the European Union. It is therefore, in a way, a citizenship “ceiling” which is added to nationality without replacing it.

An integration airlock

For this ceiling citizenship, we propose replacing a “floor” citizenship, that is to say a citizenship which applies to all permanent residents of Europe, a category including of course the nationals of the Member States, but also the migrants with long-term residency status.

Admittedly, the status of long-term resident today varies greatly in the Member States. However, the recognition of this status by a Member State constitutes a sufficient guarantee to grant the status of “European citizen” to any migrant who has complied with the procedure of that Member State. This European citizenship should be granted for the same duration as the right of residence. It should be considered as an integration airlock, pending, if necessary, the more distant and more complex acquisition of the nationality of a Member State, synonymous with assimilation.

Eventually, the procedure for acquiring European citizenship could be Europeanised. One could thus imagine that the future “European Union Agency for Asylum” could grant European citizenship to those it would have selected and subject only to the veto of the Member States. One could also imagine that the European Commission could also grant European citizenship to economic migrants, this granting being made on the basis of quotas defined each year and sectored by professional category.

Free movement and freedom of establishment

Above all, the acquisition of European citizenship would be materialized by the issue of a “European passport”, a legal document which would guarantee to their beneficiaries “European rights” identical to those of nationals of the Member States: free movement in Europe, free within the same limits as for nationals, benefit from the consular protection of Member States outside the Union, right to vote in municipal and European elections, access to European policies such as the CAP or the Erasmus program, general enjoyment of all the rights reserved for “citizens of the Union” by the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

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However, rights do not come without duties. Admission tests should be provided: at least basic written and oral knowledge of a language of the Union, and a commitment to loyalty to European democratic ideals.

The European people thus redefined would be the true “European sovereign”, and the European elections would allow the expression of the will not only of the nationals of the Member States, but of the whole of this European people united by adherence to European values . The representativeness of the European Parliament would be strengthened, and the sovereignty of the European Union could be exercised on a more solid basis.


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