Who are the citizens of Europe?

Alfred Grosser in the Rheinischer Merkur, translated in signandsight:

The Irish referendum raises many questions. Now I don’t mean the ones concerning the circumstances of the ‘No’ vote. Questions such as: Was the economy slowing down instead of thriving on EU assistance as it had been until recently? Or: Was the advertising for the ‘No’ campaign funded by conservative anti-European Americans of Irish descent? No, the issues I want to discuss are commentaries which say: This is what happens when you disregard the people and submit a treaty which has been drawn up undemocratically and is incomprehensible to boot! Philosopher Jürgen Habermas also recently expressed his doubts about democratic practice in the EU. He suggested combining next year’s European elections with a European referendum.

My first counter-question would be: Who are the citizens of the EU? The current phrasing of the treaty says: “Citizenship of the Union is hereby established. Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship. Citizens of the Union shall enjoy the rights conferred by this Treaty and shall be subject to the duties imposed thereby.”

A small number of citizens of the union have decided for everybody. This does not mean to say that national referenda are illegitimate. In France, the accession of Ireland, together with Britain and Denmark, was sanctioned on 23 April 1972 by a referendum initiated by President Georges Pompidou. However, it attracted little public interest. Sixty-eight percent said ‘Yes’, but only 60 percent of citizens actually went to the polling booths.

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