Europe was created to prevent war. After World War II, the survival need of the continent has pushed the cooperation among States to stop barbarity and to ensure the possibility of life on the continent.
Subsequently, upon the ruins of the battlefield, European political space has developed different sums of interests pushing up and down towards different models of Europe. On one hand, the European free trade model, from the beginning of tariff policy to the concentration of sovereignty on European Central Bank. On the other hand, a Europe for citizens based on a broad concept of civic and social rights that promotes equal opportunities and a unified European citizenship.
During the recent history of the European construction process, this centrifugal forces has been operating on the European territory at both national and European levels, achieving and determining, not only the frames of possibility of “what it’s meant to be Europe”, but also the main elements of everyday life of European citizens. It seems also clear that the development of this forces has not been linear, unexpected backwards and onwards are going on. Moreover, it is also clear that the huge inequality of this forces operating across Europe really matters.
The right of being a citizen everywhere
The right of residence into a nation State in Europe it is not such thing as a granted right.
First of all because the existing gap between the European legislation and the national regulations - but also between national legislations and nationals real practices - makes the right of protection an entelechy. This is the case of the Directive 38/2004 that states the general principles of people moving and working across Europe which every nation State applies on its own willing, under no force of law or European guarantee at all. The comparative research in five EU countries carried out by project Citizens Without Borders, has shown that violations happens all across Europe: arbitrary visa denials, lack of recognition of familiar ties, police controls of people appealing for residence card, loss of rights to health assistance, nomadic communities’ massive deportations, random expulsions based on non-judicial facts, are some of the main violations of the right of free movement and residence in Europe that the research carried out by Citizens Without Borders project has found out.
Secondly, the aknowledgement of residence rights mainly serves as an undercover policy for controlling migration and workers’ flows. In fact, regulations base residence rights on the premise of “economic activity”, so once the worker status is lost, the Union citizen becomes an alien in the hosting country, a non-citizen placed everywhere else. In addition to this, there is room for national regulations about entrance and residence rights to modify and modulates access to rights according to the economic context and the labour force balance. If restrictions put on acces to labour market for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens up to 2011 is somehow a well-known refrain, the current Belgian case is an alarm-sign perhaps ignored. Actually, only in 2014, the number of expulsions of EU citizens from Belgium reached the figure of 6000 people, the very heart of the European institutions has expelled them for being a “eccessive burden to the State”. The good news is that EU citizens hit by this order are joining together to appeal against it.
Straight to the "heart of the beast"
Each and every one of the rights we are enjoying today has been conquered. They have been the result of either a collective action, such as the workers’ rights or education and health systems, or the product of almost singular citizen’s heroic initiatives, like appellations to Courts that have set precedents, anchor points that allow others to fight for the recognition of rights.
In its step to Brussels, Citizens Without Borders Network has claimed that there are many different ways of “being a family, and that they are all beautiful, that the need for health care cannot be considered “excessive burden to the State”, that the condition of being employed or having sufficient resources doen not fit with labour policy of precarisation and salary cutting down, that exercising the right to organize and to express oneself cannot be considered a “threat to public security”, that any person, regardless of where he/she was born should vote and decide about how cities are ruled.
Citizens Without Borders is promoted by
Project co-funded by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme of the European Commission