According to the European Union treaties, we are European citizens, but the expression European citizenship has a very specific technical meaning that only few know. Let’s see it together to better understand what it means to be a European citizen.
WHAT IS EUROPEAN CITIZENSHIP?
EU citizenship is a set of rights and duties which concern all citizens within a given community and which guarantee their equality.
Based on the treaties of the European Union, European citizenship joins national citizenship without replacing it and gives all citizens of the Member States additional rights, different from those they have as citizens of a single state.
Here are some rights, rather than duties, of European citizens:
The free movement of citizens of the European Union
First of all, citizens of the Union have the right of freedom of movement within the Member States, enjoying the possibility of living in any of them.
Although more than a third of European workers would be willing to work in another Member State, one in five people believe that there are still too many obstacles to do so, from problems with the languages to cross-border commuting.
The sense of belonging to the European Community
In 2013, the European Year of Citizens, a series of events, conferences and seminars were organised across the European Union, at European, national, regional and local level. In this occasion, the Commission conducted a public consultation to detect the problems encountered by citizens in exercising their rights related to European citizenship. From this consultation it became clear that citizens want to be able to exploit their rights as citizens of the European Union. Among these rights there are the fact of having an authentic European space in which to be able to live and work, study and shop without bureaucratic obstacles or discrimination.
The measures of the European Commission
The European Commission wants to overcome these obstacles, but European citizenship is still too fragmented and the economic and social gaps in Europe are still too evident. One of these is the risk that instead of a single European citizenship there are as many as there are member countries of the Union. European citizenship should be an integrative citizenship which does not detract from the many national citizenships.
In Europe, the legal regime for acquiring citizenship results from a mix of ius sanguinis (citizenship inherited from parents) and ius soli (citizenship given by the state on you were born). Each system has its flaws and choices are usually based on legislative policy needs. There is still no uniform approach, which affects the delay of an authentic European citizenship.
It should be considered also that in each Member State citizens live different memberships which determine different personal statuses.
This means that not all citizens enjoy full rights in the same way. For example, the current increase of illegal immigrants is due to the current reception policies, which suffer the choices of the political orientations of the governments of the moment. A solution to the problem could be an initiative to support European citizenship by harmonizing national citizenships.
THE ADVANTAGES OF EUROPEAN CITIZENSHIP
The Maastricht Treaty which entered into force in 1993 established that all States of the European Union have dual citizenship, but what are the advantages of being European citizens? Let’s see them together.
European projects for young people and schools
The European Union raises the awareness of European citizenship through various projects that concern young people and school, including:
The European pride
Today’s new generation European pride is centred on a future made of soft policies such as the fight against climate change and data protection.
The president of the European Commission, Von der Leyen, puts the environment first by presenting maxi-investment projects for a green Europe, with the aim of making it become the world leader in innovation. There is talk of the Carbon Border Adjustment Tax, a unilateral import duty for all international products not manufactured according to the strict environmental standards of Europe itself.
It is the so-called green protectionism to defend European companies from rising costs and from losing competitiveness. Green tariffs on European borders against the rest of the world can in fact trigger retaliation.
It also does not seem to convince the idea of a European cloud, not to give the data of half a billion citizens to Amazon or Microsoft. The European Open Science Cloud, currently only for researchers, wants to be open to the rest of the economy to have a trusted space for citizens’ data.