Due to persistent migratory pressure, current public debates focus once again on the key issues of borders, boundaries, rights, and citizenship. Such debates feature a paradox: on the one hand, nation-states have surrendered a part of their sovereignty to higher authorities, are immersed in globalised markets, and can no longer – in the age of Internet – exert control over communication; on the other hand, they find themselves alone in defending their territory, strengthening border controls, at times denying migrants entry or access to rights. In some ways, this situation reflects a “comeback” by the nation-state and its prerogatives. But such states are no longer the self-enclosed entities of the 19th century: their frontiers are more malleable and tend to change according to circumstances. And citizenship no longer corresponds to a fixed set of civil, economic, social and political rights: each right can be granted and enjoyed separately from other rights. In fact, the apparent resurgence of territory requires us to reconsider the meanings of “State”, identity and sovereignty.
Sabino Cassese is justice emeritus of Italy’s Constitutional Court and professor emeritus at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa.