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Lifestyle Migrants or European Citizens? Communicating European Citizenship to British Residents in France

Sue Collard

Despite the disengagement from the EU that is widespread in the UK, large numbers of British nationals have over the past two decades taken up residence in another EU Member-State, mainly Spain, France and Italy, in an unprecedented wave of 'lifestyle' or 'consumer' migration (IPPR Report, 2006). As intra-EU migrants, they are in practice actively engaged at the forefront of the evolving process of European citizenship, since they can take advantage of the many rights and benefits offered by the EU since the Treaty of Maastricht, facilitating mobility in significant ways. But do these lifestyle migrants see themselves as 'pioneers' of European citizenship, or do they remain disengaged from the EU framework? In the latter case, how might they be brought more positively into the process of developing awareness of European citizenship at grass roots level, and what might European policy-makers learn from their responses? This paper will propose some answers to these questions, based on a case-study of British residents in France, with particular emphasis on those who, in significant numbers, have become active political participants through being elected to their local councils. Do they see their engagement as essentially local or do they acknowledge the wider European framework? What role might these councillors be able to play in sensitising other British residents in their local communities to make the transition from lifestyle migrants to active European citizens, and how might they be assisted in this venture?

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