European Citizenship: an appropriate citizenship or a simple breath of air?

Either way, the subject of European citizenship has attracted much debate and discussion. Often misunderstood,  it remains legitimized by the European Union in the Treaties. It must be noted that European citizenship grants public rights to whoever possesses freedom.

The idea of European citizenship is the result of an evolution, the starting point of which was the Treaty of Rome in 1957. It established the right of free movement of people within the European Community. However, this freedom remained conditional on an economic activity as wage labour, deliver of services, and so on. The Single European Act of 1986 amended the Treaty of Rome: the abolition of internals frontiers was established. The Council gave the right to stay stretched out to economically inactive people subject to sufficient resources and social security coverage. The establishment of citizenship of the European Union in the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 institutionalized these rights. This Treaty mentions that "any citizen of the Union is any person having the nationality of a Member State"Consequently, being a citizen of a EU citizenship confers the European citizenship. 

The connection between citizenship and nationality remains indestructible. The national factor is significant and even more so, in the absence of Community competence, each Member State is entirely free to determine the conditions of gaining its own nationality. The granting of an EU citizenship is not autonomous and the population of EU citizens is strictly the sum of citizens of the now 28 member states.

 By taking a closer look at the rights guaranteed to the citizens of the Union, we can point out the following:

1.   The right not to be discriminated against by reason of nationality within the limits of application of the Treaty (Article 18 TFEU).
2.   The freedom of movement by the Schengen Convention and residence across the Union. (Article 18 TFEU, 20 § 2a and 21 § 1 TFEU).
3.   The right to vote and the right to present at local and European elections in any Member State under the same conditions as nationals of that State (Article 10 TEU, 20 § 2b and 22 TFEU).
4.   The right of protection by the diplomatic or consular authorities of other States (Articles 35 TEU § 2c 20 and 23 TFEU).
5.  The right of petition to the European Parliament and appeal to the European Ombudsman and to the European Commission (Articles 11 § 4 TEU, 2d § 20 , 24, 227 and 228 TFEU).
6.  The right to address the institutions of the European Union in one of the official languages ​​and receive an answer in the same language (Articles 20 and 24 TFEU § 2d).
7.   The right of access to documents of the institutions and bodies of the Union (Article 15 TFEU).

It's worth noticing that the rights of privilege are modest and the development of a particular political status for a European citizen is not guaranteed. The free movement of people is a required throughout the Community Building, European citizenship hasn't reached a more pragmatic state, the contribution of community citizenship was mostly symbolic. Therefore, to acquire a more concrete and inventive European citizenship, it was necessary that the Court of Justice of the European Union might render himself liable interpreting the texts of treaties. Therefore, in view of the weakness of the Treaties, the Court granted a special significance to the concept of citizenship. Although it is forbidden to intervene in state attribution of nationality, the ambition of the Court has focused on free movement. The right of entry and residence reflects on this.

This judicial working was taken over by European legislation in a 2004 directive with an aim that's straightforwardly liberal: "The directive on the right of EU citizens and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States". It indeed provides absolute freedom of movement, ranging from a basic right to stay less than three months to the absolute right to stay definitive after five years of residence, with the right in the middle to stay in an extremely slight frame between three months and five year: An absolute right of stay of three months with single identity card or passport. A right of residence for more than three months if the citizen is a worker in the host state, if they have sufficient resources and comprehensive sickness insurance or they are enrolled in an approved facility for the study. Beyond 5 years, the citizen acquires a right of permanent residence.

We leave the economic aspect in order to take into account with the case of self-employed businesses.  The Court stated that "the Treaty of the European Union does not require that the citizens of the Union exercise any professional activity, employment or self ".

Accordingly, EU citizenship has powerfully contributed to dissociate the free movement and economic activity. However, we must point out that when new countries joining the treaty of accession, they can receive interim measures to restrict freedom of movement without exceeding seven years. In this regard the Chen case is emblematic: a Chinese couple illegally married in England and had a child in Ireland, given that Irish law grants Irish citizenship to the child and therefore European citizenship, too. Consequently, her mother rightfully claims the citizenship as the child's mother, allowing her to obtain the right of permanent residency in England. What is fabulous is that the Court grants this right to the mother without judging the attribution of the nationality. Consequently, it is very considerable to remain that member states are alone competent to determine whom their nationals and once attributed this nationality to a person, the other Member States cannot limit its effects. We must therefore remember that access to the nationality of a Member State, whatever the medium, is the entry door for a total unquestionable and likely status, spill over a large part of the family beneficiary.

On the other hand, Article 24 of the Directive provides that"Every citizen of the Union residing on the territory of the host Member State under the present Directive Member shall enjoy equal treatment with nationals this member in the scope of trafficking state". Therefore, the equality of treatment is not limited to workers. A student or an unemployed citizen of a EU member state has the same rights as other students and unemployed another state of the EU.

Finally, if the European citizenship grants too many rights, we need to consider the duties attributed to these rights as well. Actually, no duty of European citizens is prescribed in current Treaties. Nevertheless the Charter of Fundamental Rights lays down the principle that "the enjoyment of these rights entails responsibilities and duties.”

 However, this is very vague compared to the scope of a word like duty.