European citizenship and free movement after Brexit
in The European Union after Brexit
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The Brexit referendum has uncovered and stimulated a growing attachment to the European Union and the European project more generally, both in the UK and in the rest of the EU. The Brexit process raises uncertainties, challenges, and opportunities. While the uncertainties will fade over time, challenges such as how to ensure no border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, functional pressures for basing access to citizenship rights on residence rather than nationality, and ongoing disagreements between EU member states about free movement rules and preferential access to social benefits, will persist. In terms of opportunities, Brexit could allow new coalitions of member states to work toward greater harmonization of social policies (more ‘social Europe’ is supported by a strong majority of Europeans) and the process also allows member state governments and EU institutions to clarify the relationship between member state and EU citizenship, including perhaps greater coordination of naturalization policies. Recalling the centrality of individual rights and shared citizenship to the European project may allow European leaders to rediscover that shared rights are the only effective way of fostering the sense of a common destiny that is necessary for any political project to have legitimacy.

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