Lecture abstract

Citizenship and Constitutionalism in the European Union – what role for political
Introduction to the inaugural lecture to be given by Jo Shaw on 31 October 2006
As part of the series of MacCormick Lectures 2006 looking at the question ‘Does the
European Union have a Constitutional Future?’, this lecture will look at the place of
European citizens in that possible European constitutional future. It is very hard to say
what European citizens are, since most people identify first and foremost with those
persons associated with their locality, their city, their region, or their state, or with
some other social or political group (e.g. those sharing the same disability or those
who support the same political ideology). However, citizens of the European Union
do have some rights and obligations under European Union law, and in particular they
have some political rights, to participate in certain elections. I shall look in detail at
the emergence of these political rights, and at what they might mean in practice, now
and in the future. Two specific questions are examined in detail:
What does it mean for European citizens to be able to vote in elections for the
European Parliament? Can we use the political rights of citizens to improve
these elections and make them more effective? and
Can we foresee a time when all European citizens will be able to vote in the
national elections in the Member State in which they reside, regardless of
whether they have the national citizenship of that state?