European Integration, Europeanized Equality Rights, and the People's Beliefs: Evidence from Germany
Department of Sociology University of Hagen Hagen, Germany
Department of Sociology Freie Universität Berlin Berlin, Germany
We analyze how the EU has replaced the nationally-bounded concept of equality by a Europeanized idea of equality, and to what degree this concept is supported by the citizen's. Firstly, we use theoretical insights from T.H. Marshall who defines (national) citizenship as consisting of civil, political, and social rights. We show that the EU has gradually replaced this nation-state equality concept by a European citizenship status which consists of the right to free access to the national labor markets. This "freedom of movement"-rule includes additional rights connected to social security, and it guarantees a number of political rights, among others the right to vote and to stand as a candidate for municipal elections in the member state of residence.
We then analyze to what extent the people support the idea of Europeanized equality rights. Using data from two German surveys (2006, each N=1000) we ask to what extent respondents agree with a generalized rule that allows all EU-citizens, regardless of national origin, to have access to Germany's national labor market and social security system, and the right to vote and to stand as a candidate at municipal elections. On average, we find high support rates (from 52 to 82 per cent), varying on the type of right. Further one, we ask for differences in the respondent's acceptance of equality for the specific group of countries to which a foreign citizen belongs. The respondents are much more in favor of equal treatment of French than of Poles, followed by people from the EU's candidate Turkey. Nevertheless, we find high support for the three national groups to participate on scarce resources in Germany.
At least we analyze the social causes that influence attitudes towards the notion of a European-wide concept of equality. Regression analysis shows that attitudes towards Europeanized equality do not strongly depend on the respondent's socio-economic position or on his or her generalized values, e.g. political orientation and post-material values. In addition, the explained variance is consistently low.
Results show that social conflicts about migration processes within the EU are not very likely, given that migration rates will continue to remain low.