Europe - a project worthy of being built
Keywords:European citizenship, public opinion, democracy, civil society, civic education
Sixty years after the emergence of the EU, it is still a challenge to educate citizens about European themes and to really involve them in the integration process. This requires the pursuit for solutions and adequate responses from institutions, among others. But, what does it mean to be a European citizen? Does it make sense to use the concept of “citizenship” beyond the national borders? With the purpose of addressing these questions, this paper is divided into three parts. The first part addresses the definition of citizenship within the borders of a Nation State and, looks at the relationship between nationality and identity emphasized by the philosopher Thomas H. Marshall. The second turns to the European citizenship, looking at the political developments under which this concept has been given greater prominence, becoming both a source of legitimation of the European integration process and a fundamental factor in the creation among citizens of a European identity. Citizenship of the Union treasures the indisputable virtue of being the first political and legal materialisation of a citizenship at a transnational level. Nevertheless, at the time like the present, when nationalist and xenophobic feelings against the EU are on the rise and national egoism is becoming an attractive alternative to integration, the European identity struggles to attain a legitimate status in the eyes of the citizenry. The challenge ahead is that we need to find a new way to narrate European integration to all those who do not feel part of this project and that do not understand the pressing need for being “united in diversity”. In this achievement, the EU stakes its future. With this in mind, in the third section of the article, I propose some areas where progress should be made to encourage a greater sense of integration among European citizens.