Citizens Conference

Conference: “looking for European citizenship” is over…

Thanks for all the support and amazing insights into new projects and new ideas for collaboration. Documentation available here!



In the past few decades, the ongoing integration of the European Union has introduced new opportunities and policy challenges for Europeans. One particular challenge is the current legal construction of European citizens as national subjects, which has become politically limiting and lacks functionality.

As European integration moves forward and transnational mobility increases, the weaknesses of this definition have become evident. Despite its clear limits, the nation-based definition was reasserted in the Lisbon Treaty and therefore constitutes the legal framework of European citizenship European citizenship based on the classical national paradigm ironically signifies exclusion and discriminates against those EU citizens who choose a transnational lifestyle and against third-country nationals. It is the first group that actually expresses the process of European integration and the latter on which the future of the EU is built.

This problem is particularly evident when it comes to electoral rights: Because of the lack of transnational election mechanisms at the regional and national level within the EU, about 11 million EU expatriates are excluded from political participation at the regional and national level. The situation is worse for long-term residents not holding an EU passport, who are entirely excluded from political and social participation on all levels. To fully realize the European vision and live up to the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, this democratic deficit has to be overcome. To accomplish this, we have to develop a new and modern form of transnational- and residency-based EU citizenship free from national and cultural attributes and able to empower citizens in the EU to participate more fully the political process: independent of their national, cultural, ethnic or religious background.

Taking into account these fundamental questions, three complementary panels will address the following issues:

Panel 1 – Citizenship of the European Union: Why do we need a new transnational EU citizenship? How should it be defined and how should it be related to national citizenships of different Member States?

Panel 2 – Enlisting Member State Support: What are current Member State positions on transnational citizenship? Which arguments would convince national governments to adopt a transnational EU citizenship? How would it affect national sovereignty and national policies concerning the integration of migrants?

Panel 3 – Putting European Citizenship on the Political Agenda: What kind of public relations (PR) and lobbying strategies could bring a participative and transnational model of European citizenship to the top of the political agenda? Which decision-making mechanisms, actors and institutional structures have to be taken into consideration? In addition to the three panels, the conference will enable participants to network, present their own projects connected to European citizenship, develop new projects and to set up strategic partnerships. Therefore, interactive formats such as world café discussions, open space methods or a project fair will complement the panels.


Young representatives from different civil society organisations, as well as experts from the fields of culture, politics, journalism and social sciences will analyse the questions listed above. A new concept of transnational and non-discriminatory European citizenship will be defined, strategies, methods and arguments developed and projects designed to push the new European citizenship onto the political agenda. Each panel’s outputs will be collected in a strategy paper and later merged into a final policy paper summarising the results of the entire conference. Additionally, during the entire conference participants will be encouraged to write on own articles and position papers, which will then be published in the second issue of Open Citizenship – The Journal. This will allow access for both policy makers and public opinion leaders. In this way, the conference will serve as a platform for the development of new local as well as transnational cooperation, projects and initiatives.


The two-and-a-half-day conference will combine classical methods as well as innovative and interactive formats of non-formal education. This will ensure that all participants are actively involved by facilitating an interactive exchange of information and knowledge. The conference’s open format will allow participants to shape the content and outcome themselves. In addition to panel discussions and keynote speeches from experts and participants, there will be room for alternative conference methods, such as act storming, simulations and knowledge transfer on the basis of concrete experiences. This knowledge transfer will be enhanced through interaction between experts and participants on the panel and additional activities.

Participants and keynote speakers

The majority of the participants will consist of young representatives of associations, foundations, networks and initiatives active at the local, national and European level. All participants and initiatives have one thing in common: they strive for a Union of citizens and the discrimination-free political and social participation of all citizens in the EU. They will work on concrete solutions at the national as well as the European level. Participants will include:

  • 30 representatives of civil society
  • Social scientists
  • Experts in the field (NGOs, etc.)
  • Politicians (MEP, MdB and local)


Additional Information

When: 17 – 20 November 2010
Wednesday, 17 November 2010:
Gemeinnützige Hertie-Stiftung, Quartier 110, Friedrichstr. 180, 10117 Berlin

Thurdsay, 18 – Saturday, 20 November:
Haus der Kulturen der Welt, John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10, 10557 Berlin

Interested in participating?

We invite you to send in a paper (no more than one page) describing your project, good practice or standpoint by 12 September. If selected for the conference, you will receive an official invitation by end of August. Please note: only papers concerned with European citizenship will be taken into account. Please consult the Call for Participants for more information.

Still have questions? Please contact: demario [at]

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see also: Agenda and Confirmed Participants