The concept of EU citizenship dates back to the Maastricht Treaty (1992-1993).
The advantages that come from European citizenship are many but, as often happens, we forget about the guarantees that are recognised to us. Today there is a strong set of safeguards that all European citizen have, regardless of their nationality. This is because, as stated in the Maastricht Treaty, to the citizens of each Member State is recognised dual citizenship: the one of their own country and the European one.
The citizenship of the European Union determines the recognition of real rights reserved for the citizens of the EU Member States. In addition to the general principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the European Union also recognises real rights connected to EU citizenship.
Let’s see them together.
SINGLE MARKET AND THE 4 FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS
The European Union aims to allow its citizens to study, work and stay in any EU country and to sell or buy products in all of Europe. To this end, it guarantees the free movement of people, goods, services and capital in a single internal market at EU level.
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT AND STAY AND COOPERATION AMONG POLICE FORCES
Great progress has been made since the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. Today, Europe guarantees its citizens the freedom to move, reside and settle in any EU Member State, with rights equal to the residents of that State.
It is not therefore a mere “tourist freedom”. This right has been strengthened by the Schengen agreement. This agreement, concluded in 1985, is valid in all EU countries (except the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia) and provides for the abolition of border controls among the signatory countries.
The Schengen agreement, in order to ensure greater security for EU citizens, also provides for cooperation among the police forces of the participating Member States through an information system, called SIS (Schengen Information System). SIS allows to report suspicious people and traffic and is based on mutual legal assistance and anti-drug collaboration.
FREE MOVEMENT OF GOODS
The freedom of movement for goods involves the removal of internal customs barriers among the EU countries. Customs duties persist instead on the importation of foreign goods (that is for the entry of goods into the Union).
The free movement of goods has also brought consumer protection. The Maastricht Treaty (1992-1993) has in fact included for the first time a section dedicated to consumer protection. Furthermore, thanks to various directives of the European Parliament and the European Council, Member States have adopted internal legislation in this regard.
MONETARY UNION AND FREE MOVEMENT OF CAPITAL:
The project of the single market also includes a monetary union. On 1 January 2002, the euro became the single currency in most countries of the European Union.
Only 9 European countries have decided not to join the monetary union and have chosen to keep their own currency:
A single currency allows immediate exchanges, greater stability and greater growth. The absence of restrictions on the movement of capital also facilitates the freedom of movement for workers and the freedom of settlement in every country of the Union.
Furthermore, today there is SEPA (Single European Payment Area), a market that allows payments throughout the Eurozone with the same ease and security that people can rely on in their national context.
FREE MOVEMENT OF SERVICES AND RECOGNITION OF ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS
The freedom of movement for services allows European workers to move to another State of the Union and to work and provide their services there, getting the same treatment as the workers of that Member State.
In this perspective, the European Union prohibits individual Member States from imposing residence restrictions or any other discrimination in the workplace.
Equal treatment is therefore ensured for all citizens of the European Union in the selection and hiring of personnel, in working conditions, in wage levels, in assistance and in social security.
To facilitate the freedom of settlement and the freedom to provide services, every European citizen has the right to request the recognition of diplomas and qualifications issued at national level.
OTHER RECOGNISED RIGHTS
The European Union recognises to its citizens other rights, in addition to those connected to the four freedoms.
First of all, the Right to Diplomatic Protection by all the embassies of every Member State.
This means that if an Italian citizen is in a non-EU country where there are no Italian diplomatic offices, they can contact any European embassy present in that territory.
Moreover, in case of natural disasters, European citizenship allows access to the Solidarity Fund.
So, for example, in the event of an earthquake, the Member States and the regions affected by the disaster can make a request to the EU to receive support. In this regard, in May 2019 the EU Commission proposed the disbursement of €293.5 million under the EU Solidarity Fund for Austria, Italy and Romania following the natural disasters occurred in 2018.
Finally, in the last years, the European Parliament has started several initiatives in the telecommunications field. In 2017, data roaming has become free for EU citizens travelling across Europe: consequently we can use our smartphones in Europe with national rates. In 2018, the WIFI4EU project was launched. This is an initiative to provide with a Wi-Fi service the municipal areas which do not have it yet. The allocated funds should cover the installation costs for at least 6000 local communities.