This article argues for the (re)construction of citizenship of the European Union as an autonomous status. As opposed to the current legal regime, whereby individuals with nationality of a Member State are automatically granted citizenship of the Union, under this proposal individuals would be free to choose whether or not to adopt the status of citizen of an incipient European polity. At present, the telos and essence of citizenship of the Union is contested. It may be argued that the status is partial or incomplete. This has informed competing normative perspectives. ‘Maximalist’ positions praise the judicial construction of Union citizenship as destined to be the ‘fundamental status’ for all Member State nationals. By contrast, ‘minimalist’ positions argue that the status should remain ‘additional to’ Member State nationality, and the rights created therein should remain supplementary to the status and rights derived from national citizenship. This article will argue for a new approach to the dilemma. By emancipating the condition for acquisition of EU citizenship from nationality of a Member State, and reconstructing it as an autonomous choice for individuals, it is tentatively suggested that a new constitutional settlement for Europe may be generated.
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