DescriptionWith Igor Stiks: 'Soft Law and European Citizenship' Abstract: At first sight, it would appear that the concept of soft law is of little relevance in the field of EU citizenship. While the concept of EU citizenship is rather limited when compared to national citizenship, nonetheless it seems to be entirely a creature of (hard) law, both in terms of the concept as defined in the EC Treaty and in terms of the case law of the Court of Justice which has been extremely influential in extending the tentacles of that concept into the interstices of national law, especially national immigration law and national welfare law. According to a terminological glossary developed by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions: 'Soft law is the term applied to EU measures, such as guidelines, declarations and opinions, which, in contrast to directives, regulations and decisions, are not binding on those to whom they are addressed. However, soft law can produce some legal effects.' That same glossary entry goes on to argue that soft law is used where the Member States are unable to agree upon the use of hard law mechanisms. This understates the complexity of arguments which attach to the development of concepts such as citizenship which are heavily imbued with the symbols and practices of sovereignty, and fails adequately to capture the dynamics of two areas where soft law has been used in relation to European citizenship, in such a way as to blur its sharp edges: â€¢ In relation to the status of third country nationals under EU law, for whom the Commission proposed in the aftermath of the Treaty of Amsterdam a vision of a status akin to a form of EU citizenship-lite in which they would enjoy most of the rights under EU law given to nationals of Member States who are resident in other Member States â€¢ In relation to external conditionality in relation to accession, where there has been some evidence in relation to the Western Balkan states to show that EU law has had direct and indirect effects vis-à-vis national citizenship law definitions, but these effects have taken the form of 'soft' rather than 'hard' law pressure (i.e. there are no formal enforcement mechanisms).
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