In the context of Britain’s exit from the European Union, many citizens complain about the loss of European citizenship and its related rights and call for the preservation of European citizenship. As a result, we will further examine the provisions of Article 9 of the TEU, which enshrine European citizenship: “Every national of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be additional to and not replace national citizenship.”

The introduction of the notion of European citizenship under the Maastricht Treaty (1993) has been a tool for combating the deficit of democracy perceived at EU level at that time. The fact that the European Parliament insisted on including citizenship in the TEU merely confirms the intention of “empowering citizens” in order to create the impression of more democracy, intention confirmed also by the changes introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon (the reference to “citizens” and “citizenship” replaced the term “people”.

European citizenship is an automatic consequence of having the citizenship of a Member State and cannot replace national citizenship. This condition means that third-country nationals are not EU citizens. Granting national citizenship is a matter for the sovereignty of each Member State, which lays down in national law the conditions for granting citizenship.

European citizenship confers a series of “political rights”, such as the right to vote and to be elected in local elections in the Member State of residence, as well as the right to vote and to be elected in the European elections in the State of residence; diplomatic and consular protection in third countries where the state of origin is not represented; the right to petition the European Parliament and to refer the European Ombudsman for cases of maladministration of European institutions and bodies; the right to write to any institution or EU body in one of the languages ​​of the Member States and receive a reply in the same language and the right to access documents of the European institutions. Furthermore, citizenship for all EU citizens means the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States enshrined in Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

By listing citizens’ rights in art. 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the authors of the Treaties wanted to increase the visibility of European citizenship and to show its contribution to “democracy”.

However, I wonder how necessary it was, in fact, to introduce this new concept of “European Citizenship”? The rights attached to it could very well be granted to the nationals of the Member States. I believe that through this concept of “European Citizenship” the EU is only trying to take over some of the sovereignty of the Member States through the appearance of increased democracy. In fact, this intention is also confirmed by the Opinion of the Advocate General Poiares Maduro in the case C-135/08 Janko Rottmann/Freistaat Bayern (point 23): “European citizenship is more than a body of rights which, in themselves, could be granted even to those who do not possess it. It presupposes the existence of a political relationship between European citizens, although it is not a relationship of belonging to a people. […] It is based on their mutual commitment to open their respective bodies politic to other European citizens and to construct a new form of civic and political allegiance on a European scale. It does not require the existence of a people, but is founded on the existence of a European political area from which rights and duties emerge. In so far as it does not imply the existence of a European people, citizenship is conceptually the product of a decoupling from nationality.”

 


[1] Avocatul general Poiares Maduro al Curții de Justiție a Uniunii Europene, în  cauza C-135/08 Janko Rottmann/Freistaat Bayern (punctul 23)