Elio Di Rupo

The happy news that Belgium at long last has a government and a Prime Minister, Elio Rupo, whose parents were Italian migrants, confirmed the theme of a review article I wrote recently for European Political Science, about Europeans on the move. Basically, I argue that Europeans have always been on the move throughout the continent. The advent of the nation state, with frontiers and customs posts and passports, may have slowed things down a bit, but the movements still go on perpetually, and it was ever thus. The text of the review article can be read below.

Europeans on the Move

Laura Morales and Marco Giugni (eds), Social Capital, Political Participation and Migration in Europe Making Multicultural Democracy Work? Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, 2010, ISBN 978-0-230-24416-0, 308 pages

Alex Balch, Managing labour migration in Europe Ideas, knowledge and policy change, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2010, ISBN 978-0-7190-8072-2, 230 pages

Aleksandra Maatsch, Ethnic Citizenship Regimes Europeanization, Post-war Migration and Redressing Past Wrongs, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, 2011, ISBN 978-0-230-28424-1, 212 pages

Nermin Abadan-Unat, Turks in Europe From Guest Worker to Transnational Citizen, Berghahn Books, New York and Oxford, 2011, ISBN 978-1-84545-425-8, 286 pages

Simon Bornschier, Cleavage Politics and the Populist Right The New Cultural Conflict in Western Europe, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4399-0192-2, 245 pages

On 19 September 1991 two Nuremburg holidaymakers were hiking in the Italian Ötzal Alps. Walking a little ahead of his wife, Helmut Simon discovered what he rapidly realized was a human body, lying face down in melting ice. ‘Ötzi the Iceman’, Europe’s oldest mummy, had died about 3000 BC. Tests subsequently revealed that the roughly 45 year-old Ötzi had migrated some 50 kilometres north from his birthplace, that he could have been involved in an early industrial process (copper smelting) and that he was probably a high-altitude shepherd. On the basis of DNA evidence, Ötzi was out of his home territory, part of an armed raiding party and fatally wounded in a skirmish, possibly with a neighbouring tribe. When he died, Ötzi was on the run, either in fear or in hope. In other words, the 5,000 year-old Ötzi was a proto-typical European.

Some 35,000 years before Ötzi died, Homo Sapiens first reached the European landmass and started to displace and overcome earlier Neanderthal populations (who dwindled out in the Iberian peninsula). Europeans have been on the move ever since. However, now that there was no longer a ‘them’, the ‘them’ had become us ourselves, as Ötzi, among countless human beings, was to find to his cost. Genetically, culturally, patronomically, linguistically, demographically Europe is awash with traces of these perpetual movements and constant confrontations. To take just one example, Europe’s strangely related non-Indo-European languages – Basque, Finnish, Hungarian and Estonian – almost certainly represent pockets of ancient resistance to the Indo-European invasions from the steppes beyond the Black Sea.

Around the time Ötzi shuffled of his mortal coil, European agriculture had got under way. Farming meant staying put (to harvest what you had planted) and thus one of the oldest of human dynamics got under way: between those who sowed and hoped to harvest (and who were thus immobile and defensive) and those who hoped to harvest without necessarily sowing (and who were thus mobile and offensive). To complicate the picture, symbiotic relationships developed; sowers needed seasonal harvesters, just as harvesters needed sowers. This natural state might have been all right if the resulting technological progress, prosperity and population growth had not given rise to towns that became cities that became city states that became principalities and duchies and, ultimately, nation states.

Europe’s ancient natural ebbs and flows are still there, from Italian students working in London coffee bars to British navvies building the new Berlin, from ‘Polish plumbers’ to Danish au pair girls, from Turkish arbeiter working in Dusseldorf to Spanish nurses working in France, from trafficked Balkan prostitutes to Chechen refugees to Moldovan economic migrants. Europeans, modern Ötzis, are still on the move. But now these movements have to take place over, under, through or around the barriers – the physical and bureaucratic frontiers – erected by our nation states. Latterly, the Europe of Schengen and the single market has dissolved many of those barriers, but at the necessary price of re-erecting them at the European Union’s external frontiers: the Mediterranean, as it is sometimes said, has become Europe’s Rio Grande. That is why Chinese cockle pickers die in Northumberland bays, why Afghan refugees suffocate in refrigerated lorry trailers on cross-Channel ferries and why Libyans drown in Maltese waters. They are all following the ancient diktat of seeking a better life. And Europe’s nation states, individually and collectively, are following the equally ancient practice of rationing access to the Promised Land to what is considered necessary or desirable or viable or – still, just – what is morally appropriate.

This fascinating collection of excellent studies covers the complex phenomenon of how Europe’s populations, its countries, regions and cities, react and adapt to population flows and the equally complex phenomenon of how those flows themselves behave; phenomena which, as I have argued, are as old as Europe itself.

Morales and Giugni’s edited volume is based on a large-scale comparative research project that set out to study degrees of political inclusion of migrants in a mix of ten European cities drawn from countries with long-standing immigration (London, Lyon, Oslo, Stockholm, Zurich and Genevea) and those where immigration is a relatively recent phenomenon (Barcelona, Budapest, Madrid and Milan). Though the range is eclectic all are centres of large metropolitan regions with strong economies requiring and attracting immigrants. For each city the researchers selected for study a mixture of groups of recent arrival (Kosovars in Zurich, for example), groups of longer settlement (Algerians in France, for example) and muslim groups (Moroccan in Spain, for example). An introductory chapter discusses the concept of political integration, reviewing the multiple understandings of the concept, the underlying tensions in such studies and the implications of choosing different conceptual and measurement solutions. With some conceptual clarity thus achieved, subsequent chapters look at the various factors that foster or hinder migrants’ political integration. Thus, what are the institutional and discursive political opportunities that migrants face and how do these shape migrants’ individual political participation? Are naturalized immigrants less likely to vote than autochthonous individuals and, if such a gap does exist, how might it be reduced or increased by the opportunities offered to become integrated – particularly those related to the legal configuration of residence status? How does ‘social capital’ bridge and bond in defining the focus of concern of migrants’ political action and interest and does this interact with the political context? What are the integrative functions of voluntary organisations and activities? What is the impact of migrant’s transnational engagement and are continued links with the country of origin detrimental to their integration into the societies where they live? What effect do differing integration philosophies have (a comparative study of Oslo and Stockholm)? And what of migrants’ attitudes, orientations and belief systems? Is gender an explanatory variable? Religiosity? Attitudes to political institutions in the country of origin? And, when migrant populations generate a sense of attachment to a neighbourhood or a city, does that have a measurable effect?

The editors are, rightly, proud of the scope and the scale of their study and of the richness of the data they have generated and analysed. They throw up some fascinating, sometimes counter-intuitive, findings. For example, when looking at protest activities, ‘Muslims are often decried, especially in the popular press and in certain political milieus, as being intrinsically more contentious and radical, to the extent of becoming “potential terrorists”‘. But their study clearly demonstrates that this is not the case: ‘In most cities there is no significant difference between Christian and Muslim migrants and, in sharp contrast with common views, in Zurich Christian migrants are much more often involved in protest activities… Far from being an intrinsic character of Islam, political radicalism or, in any event, the willingness to engage in protest activities, depends on particular features of the political system.’ (all page 228.) Perhaps as a result of the degree of detail involved, the primary conclusion their study reaches seems almost tautological. They examine this complex phenomenon and their chief finding is that it is – complex. However, behind the apparent tautology there is a strong policy recommendation. Their results ‘underscore the point that public policies, institutional design, and public and elite discourses are key determinants of migrants’ political inclusion and in many cases much more than ethnicity or religious traditions.’ (page 273) City councils and regional authorities and even more so national authorities need to be extremely cautious with blanket recommendations: multicultural democracy requires a multicultural approach.

In the recent past the comparative literature on national citizenship has devoted a lot of attention to the issue of liberal convergence of national citizenship laws in Europe, with the twin assumptions being that national legislation in this domain is not only becoming increasingly similar but also more liberal, but is that truly the case? Maatsch takes three case studies, Germany, Hungary and Poland, and sets out to test the hypothesis by, first, indentifying the factors and mechanisms that explain national legislation reforms over a twenty-year period (1985-2007) and, second, by conducting a comparative qualitative and quantitative discourse analysis of parliamentary debates in order to identify major trends, thus answering both ‘what?’ and ‘why?’ questions. An introductory chapter sets out the different modes of national citizenship acquisition and loss (principally at birth, after birth, jus sanguinis, jus soli) and generates three hypotheses to test. A second chapter represents a sort of review of the debate more generally. A third chapter presents the comparative framework and methodology of the study. A subsequent chapter – the meat of the study, in terms of its principal finding, to which I shall return – focuses on legislative reforms in the three countries, and another conducts a ‘discourse analysis’ of parliamentary debates. Two closing chapters examine the fascinating phenomenon of the ‘Europeanisation’ of citizenship laws (the inverted commas are intentional: the EU has no powers with regard to national citizenship) and draw overall conclusions.

All three countries chosen by Maatsch have a basically ethnic approach to national citizenship legislation and nationhood. Contrary to her expectations, Maatschke found that Germany has been strongly de-ethnicised, whilst national citizenship legislation in Hungary and Poland has become more ethnic over the same period. There is a logic to this finding and it is not the most obvious one but, rather, related to demographic flows. Poland and Hungary have large diasporas abroad. Ethnic-based concepts of national citizenship enable those countries to strengthen the legal link with their diasporas (rather, that is, than to discriminate against other ethnicities). Germany on the other hand, as one of the largest receiving states in Europe, has concentrated on including long-term immigrants by facilitating their access to national citizenship. Maatsch’s other principle finding is that the EU’s member states ‘tailor their citizenship legislation as informed by the norms that are widely acknowledged in the EU as well as by other states’ legal practices in that area. The Europeanisation of national citizenship law could, therefore, be summarised “in a nutshell” by four attributes: horizontal, indirect, voluntary and best practices-oriented.’ (page 153). In other words, European integration also takes place through osmosis and imitation. But, Maatscke adds, the convergence, when it occurs, is not necessarily more liberal in nature. This slim study (57 of its 212 pages are devoted to appendices and indices) identifies its own primary shortcoming and the path for future research: ‘an examination of a larger number of cases would allow us not only to further test the research hypotheses put forward in this research but also to contribute to the examination of horizontal Europeanisation mechanisms, which are still under-researched in comparative national citizenship studies.’ (page 154) Maatsch is to be commended for reminding us that, even in a European Union where national citizenship decidedly remains a prerogative of the nation state, it is the age old phenomenon of population flows that influences the chosen nature of the concept.