Ethnic Diversity, Migration and
the Expansion of the EU
Carlo Ruzza
Department of Sociology
University of Trento
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Introduction: Ethnic Diversity in the EU
This lecture will discuss the role of ethnicity in
the EU and will examine ethnic issues in terms
 1) …historical European ethnic diversity (i.e.
minority nationalism, economic nationalism
and border nationalism)
 2) …the impact of recent migrations on the
conceptualisation of ethnic issues. In
particular, it will focus on
 3) …European integration and its impact on
ethnic relations in Europe.
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Ethnicity: historical background
The main political devides in Europe have changed over time.
Three revolutions have created them and their legacy is related to
different types of social movements.
They are the national revolution that created state/church divisions.
Religiously oriented movements are one of its expression.
The industrial revolution which created the urban/rural and class
devide; it supported Marxist revolutionary social movements.
The international revolution contrasts nationally and internationally
oriented individuals. Belonging is crucial to all of them.
The national revolution replaced religion as a source of legitimate
authority with the idealised concept of the nation as an idealised
homogeneous and sacralised collectivity which is generally
embedded politically in a state and is territorrially based.
This idealised concept of nationhood has been pursued through
parallel processes of state building and nation building which
have however left behind inassimilated social groups and
territorial enclaves.
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Ethnicity: theoretical background
Theories of Nationalism:
The rise of the nation is often dated to the time
of the French Revolution. However, there is a
debate on what is its relation to the state and
to modernity
 Some see it as mainly the outcome of elites’
instrumental attempt to shape social change
 Others see this instrumental use as based on
persisting pre-modern ethnic sentiments
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
(a) Primordialists
Historians like Frantisek Palacky, Eoin
Mac Neill and Nicolae Iorga saw nations
as evolving primordial entities. They
recognised that before the 18th century
nationality was subordinated to religion
and dynastic principles, but still thought
that nations existed before the
emergence of the idea of popular
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
(b) Modernists
Since the 60’s primordialists have been criticised by various
authors such as Carl Deutsch, Ernest Gellner, E. Hobsbawm and
Benedict Anderson.
They see the nation as a modern institution, and argue that the
raise of the nation as a widespread political model is only two
centuries old.
For modernists the nation can only be understood in relation to
the nation-state. The nation-building process is a political one and
is rooted in the interests of state-builders. “Nationalist elites
invented nations” (Breuilly).
Historically, nations are significantly different from previous units
They are artefacts of new print technologies, territorial integration
through transports, the bureaucratic state, industrialisation
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
(c) Ethnicist Approaches
Some theorists (i.e.Anthony Smith, John
Armstrong) accept the recent and political
manufacture of nations but argue that it was
only possible on a pre-existing basis – a body
of myths and symbols which persist over long
 They argue that states require more than
citizenship to sustain emotional commitment
and solidarity.
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Regionalism and Nationalism
Although different in many respects, regionalist and nationalist
formations share many traits such as the belief that cultural boundaries
should be coterminous with political boundaries and a concern for
'protecting' communities from ‘enemies’.
An important issue is whether the 'other' is considered a non-resident
of the region, such as is for the Basques, or whether there are more
inclusive criteria such as traditional roots in the community or the
mastery of a language.
Some examples of EU etno-nationalism:
 The Basque Country
 Catalunia
 Scotland
 Wales
 Süd Tyrol
 Sardinia
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Ethno-Nationalism in the EU
General theories of nationalism can be applied to the
EU to examine the emergence of ethno-nationalist
 We will briefly review the institutional structure of the
EU and then consider the contribution of EU regional
policy to promote regionalism.
 As it emerged historically, nationalism was not based
on ethnicity, but on cultural affinities. Yet, today
ethnicity is the most recurrent claim (i.e. Tamil and
Kurds). And it is an exclusivist claim
 A less exclusivist nationalism is based on a common
culture but not myths of common descent (social
nationalism i.e. Catalans).
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Among nationalist movements there are Ethno-nationalist groups
with a regionalist character. Regionalist groups promote the
autonomy of specific ethnic nations within larger nation states.
Typically they claim that specific regions need to be protected
from the economic or cultural predatory behaviour of nation
states. They advocate an increase of various types of political
and economic resources ranging from subsidies to depressed
areas to the institutional protection of linguistic differences.
Their independence claims range from limited
autonomy in specific sectors to seeking secession and
promoting ethnic nationalism and statehood. In these
claims they are similar to nationalistic groups and
often it is difficult to differentiate them. A successful
regionalist secessionist movement might become a
nationalist party after secession.
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
History and theory of EU Ethno-nationalism
The parallel processes of nation building and state building
resulted in a cultural and political marginalisation of several
European regions, and particularly those most distant from the
cultural and political centre. Political marginalisation was bitterly
resented in marginal regions. Often the church as a counterpart
to the state became a bastion of protection of local languages
and sensibilities
Nationalist-regionalist movements have been extensively studied
in specific regions. Less work is available on their impact outside
specific regions. Their ability to confront ethnic stereotypes, which
affect their nationals in their relation with other groups.
There are several theories to explain regionalism. They range
from theories on internal colonialism, to theories that see it as a
reaction to the demise of competing identities, such as the
communist, religious or national identities. Also there are theories
about loss of status, and economic dominance.
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Three EU regionalisms
The first kind comprises a traditional
regionalism that has been dominant in
culturally and linguistically marginal regions.
 There is then a border regionalism that
entertains stronger relations with a
neighbouring state.
 And there is a regionalism that is associated to
both emerging economic identities and to
emerging ideas of governance based on civic
values considered incompatible with the host
nation state.
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Types of ethno-regionalism: Language-based
Another type focuses on languages. It resulted from
transfers of territories as a consequence of state
treaties, often following wars.
Border areas where majority languages were spoken
were re-defined as linguistic minorities, engendering
attempts at internal colonization by annexing states
and discontent in local populations, and the
emergence of political identities.
This is for instance the case of German speakers in
Northern Italy after the First World War. Other
identities of this kind have an even stronger gestation,
such as the Alsatian.
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Economic regionalism
In recent years, some areas, which do not have a
strong tradition of minority nationalism, have done
remarkably well economically. Also national economic
dynamics and dynamics related to processes of
globalization have increased the economic
distinctiveness of regions.
 This has produced a feeling of common belonging,
which has sometimes translated into political action.
 Areas such as Lombardy, Baden-Wittenberg and
Rhone-Alps have been studied under the paradigm of
a ‘new regionalism’ (Harvie 1994). From these areas,
spring a family of movements and parties such as the
Northern League in Italy.
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Mixed types
Some traditional regions of minority
nationalism have also done better than their
host states economically and have developed
traits similar to those of economically reach
regions, such as the Basque and Catalan in
 This is also the case of some border regions
such as Flanders. These traits include an
emphasis on entrepreneurship and hard work
as a moralised trait
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Explaining ethno-regionalism in the EU (1)
Explanations that consider ethno-regionalism often
focus on the rebellion of elites against Capitals, the
‘internal colonialism’ thesis (Hecter 1985).
They emphasize the fact that, for a number of
reasons, state Capitals would no longer be able to coopt elites.
This would be applicable to the EU to the extent that,
after the SEA, the economic requirements of EU
integration came to mean the extraction of additional
resources from peripheral elites and a halt to deficit
spending approaches.
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Theories of Ethno-regionalism (2)
There are general explanations of ethno-regionalism that focus
on accentuated perceptions of injustice. Often these explanations
are applied to regions marked by economic obsolescence and
cultural particularism (Harvie 1994)
Secondly, there are explanations that posit the emergence of
new political opportunities for regionalist movements. Even small
states become politically and economically viable in an integrated
Europe. Separatist movements can therefore find fertile grounds
where they were previously kept at bay by economic
These movements have traditionally been stronger in historical
regions. This is therefore an explanation compatible with the
previous one.
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Identity explanations and the crisis of politics (3)
Then there are explanations that apply to all regions. There
identity-based explanations, which argue that in a period of
collapse of political identities, such as socialist and Communist
identities after the collapse of the eastern bloc, regional identities
acquire new salience. These explanations are clearly applicable
to post-1989 Europe.
There are explanations that concern what has come to be known
as the crisis of politics, that is to say, the crisis of political
representation, where political decision-making is perceived to be
remote and uncontrollable. Regionalism appears as a response
predicated upon the assumption that political entrustment is more
transparent in a smaller area. Fourthly, there are broader cultural
explanations, such as those that posit the emergence of a new
bourgeois particularism grounded in a collapse of ideals of social
solidarity (Harvie 1994).
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Regionalism at EU level: Strategic Essentialism as
an explanation of ethno-nationalism
Regionalism in the EU has been explained as a
consequence of EU level regional policy which
encourages regional identities and regionally-based
claims for resources
it is useful to frame EU ethno-nationalism in the
context of EU regional policy and its connected
institutions (EFA, EBUL, Regional Offices)
There are two types of regionalism operating in
Brussels: one radicalised but marginal which emerged
from three historical trajectories, and one weaker but
dominant. EU institutions have co-opted the weaker
form to provide legitimacy to the process of EU
construction but marginalised the stronger form while
adopting elements of its political philosophy.
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
2) Migration Policy in the EU
Movements of population have also made ethnicity newly relevant. They
have also awakened interest in issues of religious and racial
discrimination. There have been relevant migrations in the EU in the last
20 years. Levels of migration from non-EU countries have been
particularly high in the mid nineties.
These flows have sparked media concerns, political reactions and policy
After the ratification of Maastricht in 1993, asylum policy, the rules
governing the crossing of the external borders, and checks on persons at
borders, immigration policy and policy relating to nationals of nonmember countries are considered as matters of common interest to the
Member States of the European Union.
The Amsterdam treaty sets minimum common standards to regulate
It sets common standards for dealing with illegal immigration, granting of
residence permits, the rights of legally resident citizens of non-member
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
EU cooperation in JHA
Cooperation between the justice administrations
of the Member States
the GROTIUS programme to assist judicial
Cooperation between the customs administrations
of the Member States
Cooperation between the police forces of the
Member States
measures to strengthen external frontiers and
asylum and immigration policies
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento
Implementing Amsterdam
In the Amsterdam treaty there is a new effort to combat discrimination
based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or
sexual orientation. Under the Amsterdam Treaty, the areas of visa,
asylum, immigration and other policies related to free movement of
persons, like judicial cooperation in civil matters, are transferred from the
EU's third pillar to its first pillar. These provisions offer new opportunities
to tackle an area of major public concern and thus to bring the European
Union closer to the people.
 JHA: An area of freedom, with homogeneous procedures, equivalent
responses, better co-operation in criminal matters, a common sense of
 Schengen agreements are now incorporated into the Amsterdam Treaty,
though certain Member States are allowed to derogate (UK, Ir, Dk).
Checks have already been abolished between a number of Member
 The Amsterdam treaty establishes that after 5 years of its entry into force
EU internal borders will be removed. Common standards for external
checks will be applied. There will be common rules for short-period visits.
There will be a common visa requirement policy.
Carlo Ruzza
University of Trento

Ethnic Diversity, Migration Issues and the Expansion of …