European Youth Portal
Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.

The development of the concept “European citizenship”.

The aim of this article is to create a brief summary for the concept “European citizenship”.

The concept of European citizenship has developed very differently since the foundation of the European Communities in the 50's. Although in the treaties that founded the community (the Treaty of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community and the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, EURATOM, in 1957) this concept was not mentioned nor were mentioned the citizens, it didn't mean they weren't taken into consideration. On those treaties, businessmen, workers, users, consumers and economic operators were the beneficiaries of the market.


Since 1952 and until the foundation of the European citizenship in 1992, there was a development regarding equal rights and freedoms for all the citizens of the community. The wish of granting a political identity to all the nationals from the Member States in order to start a process of European integration was first accomplished at the summit of EU heads of state and government in Paris in 1974.


In the 80's there was an alienation in the Member States towards this European integration process  and, as a result, the concept of European citizenship starts to develop so as to boost the identity of a community. The European Parliament took the first step to create and use the actual concept through a project that aimed to integrate citizenship in the Union, included in the Article 3 of the Draft Treaty of the European Union, adopted by the European Parliament the 14th of February in 1984 (Spinelli Report). Nevertheless, it was not accepted by the Member States and it didn't reach its main objective, which was to become the first and actual European Constitution.


Ten years after the Summit of Paris, at the Fontainebleau European Council, it is approved an agreement about creating an European passport and the establishment of an ad hoc Committee, known as “Citizens' Europe”, whose aim is to approach the European citizens towards the political, legal and institutional reality of the European Communities. In this Committee, also known as Adonnino Committee, the projects were: to create a community flag, adopted officially in 1986, a motto (United in Diversity), a hymn ('Ode to Joy' by Beethoven), and the Europe Day (9th of May, in honor to the Schuman Declaration). All these reports didn't show clear results and weren't included in the Single European Act.


At the beginning of the 90's, the concept of citizenship is included in the process for the European integration. This term is first explained in the Treaty of the European Union (TUE) in 1992, subject of a Spanish initiative, in all its legal terms and introducing specific rights for the citizens, which meant a great advance for the European development. The Treaty of Maastricht established a European citizen status, but it didn't define it. The Treaty of the European Union established as one of its main objectives the “reinforcement of the protection of the rights and interests of the national citizens from the Member States, through the creation of a Union citizenship”. Through this Treaty, this concept is included in the Primary law of the European Union when it talks about “citizen of the Union”. As a result, not only there is a legal and economical relation (the original base of the EU was the common market) but it also exists a legal and political relation. Although it is true that the TUE created the European Citizenship, it is also important to notice that the legislative progress from 1990 to 2004 about circulation and residence in the Member States was practically inexistent.


The Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997 didn't modify substantially the agreements about the Union citizenship statute made in Maastricht. Among the recently introduced measures, there was the Article 17.1 of the TUE, that establishes that “this citizenship will be supplementary” and will not substitute the national citizenship. As a matter of fact, this prediction was already implicit in the original regulation of the TUE. In this treaty there are some other rights included about the political, social and legal life of the citizens from the Member States, such as the right to write directly to any of the institutions or bodies of the community, the right to be replied in any of the languages disposed in the Treaty, as well as the right to access to any of the documents of the institutions and bodies mentioned above.


After the Treaty of Maastricht and the boost of the European citizenship, it is developed The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in the Summit of Nice in the year 2000, although it didn't come into effect until 2010. This Charter contains a preamble and 54 articles divided in VII chapters, and some general rules. The chapter V is aimed to the citizenship. This chapter includes the rights conferred to the citizens of the Union, such as the right to vote and stand as a candidate at the elections to the European Parliament and at municipal elections, the right to good administration, the right to petition at the European Parliament, the freedom of movement and residence and the diplomatic and consular protection. Since the Treaty of Lisbon (2007) it is part of the law regulation of the Union, so it acquires the same judicial validity as the treaties and it applies directly in the systems of the Member States, according to the Article 6 from the TUE.



Written by Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier, Diputación de Córdoba

Published: Wed, 22/03/2017 - 09:13

Tweet Button: 

Info for young people in the western balkans

Need expert help or advice?

Ask us!