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The Politics of Citizenship in Europe in an Era of Integration Challenges
January 12, 2010

Migration Policy Institute

The Politics of Citizenship in Europe in an Era of Integration Challenges

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Marc Morjé Howard, Associate Professor of Government, Georgetown University

Demetrios G. Papademetriou, MPI President

As Europe's immigrant population continues to grow in size and diversity and as more immigrants make countries in Europe their permanent home, these societies are grappling with the question of what constitutes successful integration and how to facilitate it.  The acrimonious debate in France over the French identity and the burqa and the Swiss vote to impose a national ban on the construction of minarets, point to the tension surrounding the issue.  Yet, some countries have embraced constructive policies with clear goals and concrete measures, while others remain mired in bruising political debates.  What is clear is that Europe, which faces inexorable demographic and immigration shifts, cannot escape dealing with immigration and immigrant integration issues.

In his book, The Politics of Citizenship, Marc Morjé Howard explores the citizenship process in different European countries and how it impacts immigrant integration.  Professor Howard's research shows that despite remarkable convergence in their economic, judicial, and social policies, the countries of the European Union still maintain very different definitions of citizenship. Based on an innovative measure of national citizenship policies, the book accounts for both historical variation and contemporary change.  Howard's historical explanation highlights the legacies of colonialism and early democratization, which created relatively inclusive citizenship regimes.

At this event, Marc Morjé Howard, Associate Professor of Government at Georgetown University, discusses his analysis on citizenship in Europe, including why some of the countries with more restrictive citizenship policies have liberalized them in recent decades, whereas others have not; and how the politics of citizenship, in particular anti-immigrant public opinion, when activated politically, can block the liberalizing tendencies of political elites. Demetrios G. Papademetriou, MPI President, provided comments.




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