Understanding Citizenship: a Legal Historical Analysis

« Citizenship is hereby established. […] Citizens of the Union shall enjoy the rights and be subject to the duties provided for in the Treaties. », stipulates Article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. However, do we as European citizens really know what the concept of citizenship means for us today and which concrete rights it entails apart from voting on 26 May ? As there remains still much to do in the field, we take the opportunity to put a spotlight onto EU citizenship shortly after Europe Day and only ten days before the European elections. Introduced with the Maastricht Treaty under Art. 20-25 TFEU in an attempt to bring European citizens closer to the EU and to forge European identity, EU citizenship has evolved steadily since 1992. Following the British vote to leave the European Union on 23rd June 2016, questions of EU citizenship regainend prominence as well. However, EU citizenship is often too complex or too vague for many citizens. While a majority of Europeans confirm they are aware of their rights as citizens of the European Union, they would also like to know more according to a Eurobarometer suvey (March 2018).

In order to understand the essence and scope of application of the supranational EU citizenship concept, one has to take into account different elements : the Treaty framework, the derivate character of Union citizenship and its implementation through secondary law. The different economic, social, civic and political rights conferred by EU citizenship are therefore as heterogenious as the different fundaments it is built on.

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