EIRP Proceedings, Vol 9 (2014)

European Citizenship between Past and Future

Georgeta Modiga1

Abstract: The European Union, an organization built on the ruins of the Second World War the desire to curb the war on the continent once and for all, was doomed from the beginning to end in one day political contours, so Europe is now united policy at the core of the future of Europe. This aspiration has become increasingly manifest in the adoption in 1992 of the Treaty of Maastricht, culminating today with the debate on the European Constitution. “Europe” today was forged from the beginning of the ruling political elites and not the citizens. Is it possible to continue this course today? Talking about European citizenship is part of the broader theory and political philosophy, legal and sociological. East European citizenship a recent concept (established by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992) born of an old idea (dating approximately from the 40s) that refers to a reality uncertain and inconsistent. Holders of European citizenship are nationals of Member States of the European Union. Citizenship as a concept has a content both political (the right of citizenship Fortress defining an individual's personal status) and legal (on the set of subjective rights that an individual may invoke). Existential condition of citizenship is the ability to have rights (individual rights as positive theory of law) and be able to implement them. As a consequence, European citizenship exists to the extent that its holders can enjoy rights derived from this status.

Keywords: citizens; European; European society

Although the scientific use of the notion of” European identity” has made progress since 2000, the term continues to pose problems. Much of the literature on

This topic deals with the general philosophy in historical terms or common values and lifestyle of Europe, either as a continent bringing together a set of states, either as a civilization that distinguish it from the rest of the world, to some extent legitimate integration economic and politica1. Another part of the literature deals with European identity as a process of psycho- sociological or socio -political attachment of citizens to the European space policy and community achieved through integration.

European identity will gradually raise a number of sociological debates bearing on the validity of the concept of identity. Rogers Brubaker and Frederick Cooper highlights the drawbacks of the concept that frequent reformulations made him less operational; In this sense, identity is, as Sophie says Duchesne, caught in a series of tensions: between similarity and difference, objectivity and subjectivity; individually and collectively; permanent contextually and transformation.

In a sociological book, Charles Tilly treats identities (always plural) via responses that individuals / groups give individuals question the: who are we?, Claiming that these responses exert an undeniable influence on the ability and inclination to social actors negotiate and act as one.

It remains to apply this notion of Europe. Identity implies the existence of a form of history negotiated by groups transmitted through institutions such as targeted individuals to recognize in it. History is always less than unequivocal consensus or intimates use identity politics” national imaginary” is that any collective representation, always multiple and conflicting object of negotiation and confrontation permanent.

Europe today is the bearer of such stories? We believe that there is now a European imaginary, even controversial, varying from state to state so far built enough to exert an influence on how Europeans negotiated, some acts in relation with others and with the world? The answer to this question was sought, demonstrated and removed by many authors.

Numerous studies have shown that self- identify as European sentiment comes directly from national affiliation; In this respect, we support the thesis that drew converging views: national identity is not inconsistent with the sense of belonging to the European Union on the contrary; all that can be seen by analyzing the relationship with the European project builds against nation, either by “extension” - are European because they are French, Belgian, German, etc., or by” compensation” - are European because I do not feel Spanish or British but almost never recital: I do not feel European because they are very nationalistic.

Even in its current form, European identity does not wake up feeling like those raised by national identity, with a more pronounced emotional affirm that it is still difficult to find causes and common interests that unite Europeans and urge them to an awareness of belonging to the European Union.

From some points of view, the EU is both a supranational system of governance, a unique form of political community but also a fragile construction emerging with ambiguous sense of identity. But even more important to the ultimate fate of the EU is how ordinary citizens perceive the EU's role in their lives especially because ultimately, politicians in democratic societies generally follow voters' preferences.

These preferences determine to a large extent political elites will lead governments to develop state capacity in Europe. So the degree to which people from Europe or refuse to accept European identity will be the most profound effect on the future of Europe.

In fact, European integration seems to occur through its legal construction; setting up “an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, persons and capital is ensured” introduces a legislative procedure de facto influencing the decisions resulting from cooperation between states.

Based on speculation napoleoniana28 an important thesis on European Union was formulated: unified law, especially social and economic branch interaction between people is a significant contribution to the evolution of European Union.

Proceeding from the next step, the natural and necessary process of deepening European transnational civil society and hence the European identity is the adoption of common law principles and basic legal harmonization; Napoleon as what already provided an integrated body of legal principles which govern the various relationships established by citizens in a civil society, support the hypothesis of a future European Civil Code as a tool for building the identity European companies.

Regarding the relationship between European integration be noted first that the process of creating a formal constitution can not be dissociated from the overall integration process because of increased democratic legitimacy of the Union or by the Court’s commitment towards a jurisprudence human rights, either by coding what was institutionalized over time.

The formation of a European identity will not be achieved at the expense of existing national identities and will not cause a replacement. Supporting the possibility that the two identities, we see that European cultural identity is built using the same form of rhetoric as if the nation-state, in other words, has its own myths, memories and symbols and attempts thereby creating a sense of continuity the claims of a common past, the present and the future shared similar national identity discourses.

The European Union is currently facing a multitude of new tasks such as remedying the consequences of aging European population; administration of both political as well as legal foreign migration flows; counter the growing inequality as a direct consequence of migration but also to the economic crisis; peacekeeping in a globalize.

Given these challenges, common interests generated by economic integration and the reasons that stimulated European unification in the past (external threats or economic growth) are not sufficient to raise a genuine cohesion policy; consequent strong cohesion must seek new European political unity even common European culture. As these old factors lose their power integration, the role of European cultural identity, spiritual factor of European integration becomes important as a source of unity and cohesion but also as a vital element in strengthening democracy and legitimacy of the EU as a democratic polis.

Cultural identity is the version that gives substantial support as well as emotional attachment, something especially true in comparison to neo -liberal European identity, which apply suggestive rhetorical question formulated by Jean Monnet who would fall in love with a single European market? Moreover, we believe that European cultural identity is a necessity, acting as a foundation and as a justification for neo -liberal and civic versions of European identity.

But European culture, this open space to be constantly redefined by it does not create European unity; this unit requires equally a political dimension. Common European culture is actually allowing the policy to make the EU a unified political entity. The Union unit is not just a political mission; politics can only create basic requirement of European unification. Europe itself is more than a political construction is a whole culture of institutions, ideas and expectations, the habits and feelings, memories and projects forming a “cement” that binds Europeans among its constituents while foundation which is high political construction.

And this ensemble often called European civil society are at the center of political identity, defining conditions of European success but limits état and political intervention.

The general concept of “citizenship” has a political aspect in that the fixing and establishing the legal framework is nothing but the expression of the sovereign will of a people.

Moreover, every person in society can only realize that participating, as a citizen, in the exercise of power, so it can be said that any of us lays a very small part of the sovereign power of the people. Present an example in this respect may be given the right of citizens to vote and to be elected parliamentary institutions.

Another aspect of citizenship is civilian, referring, for example, the rights to individual freedom. Finally, the third aspect of citizenship is social; it includes, for example, citizens' rights to a decent standard of living, right to health, right to education right house etc.

Citizenship is a status equal force (legal and also a role, a social role. Thus, from the perspective of the state, citizenship is both all rights and freedoms on which a state grants its citizens, and the obligations that they have to the state. Role of your social, citizenship is one of the individual and involves developing certain or a civic culture that enable effective citizen status.

Everything I mentioned in the previous rows applies to European citizenship, which means all the rights and freedoms granted to citizens that the European Union of 27 Member States. As a state of rights, European citizenship composite nature observation helps European Union, which is itself a community of law, socio-economic system, increasingly more political entity (remember in this context that since December 1, 2009, the date it came into force the new Reform Treaty of Lisbon, the European Union has acquired legal personality).

Definition nationality remains the exclusive prerogative of Member States. EU has no competence in this area. Sovereign states remain so through legislation on nationality of each, in deciding who is and who is not European. The European passport, which allows EU citizens travel abroad, it is still issued by national authorities. In political terms, European citizenship is an expression of all political processes of intergovernmental negotiation, interpretations, community and social mobilization impulses.

Just at this level we find dynamic citizenship, while its novelty and its most controversial aspects. However, it should be recalled, as we all know, that from the beginning of the construction community, the European Union has asked questions about the purpose or end. Is it simply a common market which only state borders disappear? Or European Union is moving step by step towards the formation of a political federation, succeeding as state and it has succeeded cities and feudal states?

Europeans have their citizenship rights guaranteed by the Treaties (Articles 17-22 of the Treaty establishing the European Community):

  • Right of movement and residence, the right to work and study in other Member States, as recognized both active people and those “inactive” (students, pensioners, etc.).

  • Civil and political rights: the right to vote and eligibility (to be elected) municipal elections and European Parliament elections in the Member State of residence, the right to petition the European Parliament;

  • Some legal guarantees: consular protection from another Member State in the territory of a third country which is not member of European Union (EU) if their state has no diplomatic representation, the right to complain to the European Ombudsman against an act maladministration committed by a European institution.

Exercise of these rights is subject to certain limitations and conditions. Thus: EU citizens can be elected as municipal councilors, but can not handle executive functions (eg, mayor) may be officials in the State of residence, but only in jobs that do not employ its sovereignty, must provide proof that they have sufficient resources to install in another state. Europeans, whether or not citizens of the EU, and fundamental rights (civil, political, economic and social) that the EU is committed to respect (art. 6 of the EU Treaty).

However, their protection legally is not perfect, as no treaty specifically enumerates these rights. It is known that the European Union in the form in which it finds itself, there arose suddenly, but in several historical stages, each occupying a special place and well worth the completion of the world economic and political power. Furthermore, it is important to remember that the origin of the idea of “United Europe” is lost in the shadows of history, expressions of this kind existing in the works of great philosophers, writers, history, lawyers, politicians and scientists on the old continent since even antiquity. as an example we mention here that in Dante Alighieri 1306, in his “De Monarchia”, calling for a universal European monarchies under Roman Emperors; A year later, in 1307, French lawyer Pierre Dubois in his “The recuperation Terra Sancta” proposed the creation of a Europe united politically, as a condition for keeping the peace on the European continent.

Such proposals have become more numerous since sec. XVI - XVII.

In 1693, for example, in his “Essay on the present and future peace of Europe,” William Penn made a proposal to the modern era: bringing together European representatives in a “Diet”.

A similar proposal was made in 1712 by the abbot of Saint- Pierre, in the famous” Project eternal peace” sketched image of a European Senate would have legislative powers and even the judiciary.

European citizenship is directly related to the possession of nationality of a state of the Union. The fact of being a German, Czech, Polish, French or Romanian automatically confer Germans, Czechs, Poles, French or Romanian Union citizenship and the rights and duties attached to it.

The conferring of nationality of a person is not for the European Union, but only states that have their own criteria and conditions for the award. European Commission initiates many actions and programs that tend to develop European civic approach to strengthen the sense of European identity of citizens. The program “Europe for citizens” even invites citizens, civil society actors and national policymakers, the teachers and researchers, to organize meetings, events, debates, forums, about Europe.

In a more general way and that European citizenship is as much a reality, the Commission wants to strengthen dimension “nationality” in Community programs on youth, culture, Audiovisual and civic participation. European citizenship is additional to national citizenship and shall not replace it. European citizenship is acquired automatically for all citizens of EU Member States. European citizenship is the relationship between an individual and official EU membership relation that defines his / Union. As citizens, individuals have certain rights; for example, can take part in the decision electing representatives. The introduction of common rights for European citizens and EU identity reinforces the idea of European solidarity. Discrimination on grounds of nationality is not permitted in the EU.

European citizenship was defined by the Treaty on European Union, signed in 1992, in Maastricht, which entered into force in 1993. Including rights, obligations and participation in political life, European citizenship and identity aimed at enhancing the image of the European Union and a greater involvement of citizens in the European integration process.

In addition, citizenship European the principles common to the Member States: the principle of freedom, democratic principles, the principle of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law contained in the Treaty of Amsterdam, and results from fundamental human rights and specific rights granted to European citizens (rights of free movement and civil rights), described in the Treaty.

Treaty of Amsterdam, which entered into force on May 1, 1999, to strengthen the protection of fundamental rights, condemning any discrimination formations, and recognized the right to information and protection of consumers. Fundamental rights and democratic values are respected in the European Union Member States, which are signatories to the Convention European texts and Human Rights (in 1950 Rome, under the Council of Europe) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (signed under UN auspices in 1948), the European social Charter (signed in 1961, under the aegis of the Council of Europe ) or communitarian Charter of fundamental Social Rights of Workers (1989 by all Member States of the European Communities, with the exception of Great Britain, who signed in 1998).

Respect for human rights has been confirmed in the preamble to the Single European Act, signed in 1986 and entered into force in 1987 and then incorporated in Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union.

Guarantee fundamental rights has been strengthened by the Treaty of Amsterdam, which extended the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice, including rights derived from Article 6, concerning the activities of the European institutions. Meanwhile, the suspension clause was introduced, which can be taken for repeated serious abuse by a Member State of the principles underlying the Union. Union commitment was reiterated formally in December 2000, when it was Charta Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

In 1998, the European Commission launched the Europe Direct information in order to inform citizens on their rights and opportunities offered by European citizenship.

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU) was proclaimed at the Nice European Council on 7 December 2000. However, the Lisbon Treaty is that, since the entry into force on 1 December 2009, conferred the same legal value as the Treaties. Since then it is mandatory for Member States and any citizen can invoke if these rights are violated by a European text.

Charter contains 54 articles that define the fundamental rights of persons within the EU. These are divided between six individual and universal values that form the basis of the European construction: dignity, freedom, equality, solidarity, citizenship and justice. However, the rights associated with citizenship values relate only EU citizens.

Writing primarily to meet two objectives:

  • To provide a reference text to be clear and strong, understandable for every European citizen and bringing together existing rights, but which have now been divided between several texts;

  • To improve the protection of fundamental rights. Total adherence to European integration involves citizens so to get even more out of their values, their common history and culture as key elements of belonging to a society based on the principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights, cultural diversity, the tolerance and solidarity under the Charter of fundamental Rights of the European Union (Article 4-Decision of the European Parliament and the Council-The program “Europe for citizens”-December 2006).

Promoting active citizenship is a key element for enhancing both the fight against racism, xenophobia and intolerance, as well as cohesion and democracy (Article 5 - Decision of the European Parliament and the Council - The program “Europe for Citizens”- December 2006.)

In order to bring Europe closer to its citizens and to enable them to participate fully in building a Europe increasingly closer, it is necessary to address all citizens participating states and persons legally residing in those states and lead them to participate exchanges and transnational cooperation activities, contributing to a sense of adherence to common European ideals (Article 7 - Decision of the European Parliament and the Council - The program “Europe for citizens”-December 2006)

The European Council noted on several occasions the need European Union and its institutions closer to the citizens of the Member States. He encouraged the EU institutions to maintain and foster an open, transparent and regular dialogue with organized civil society, thus promoting citizen participation in public life and decision-making, emphasizing the essential values that are shared by European citizens (Article 9 - Decision of the European Parliament and Council - The program “Europe for citizens”- December 2006).


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1 Associate Professor, PhD, Faculty of Law, “Danubius” University of Galati, Romania. Address: 3 Galati Boulevard, 800654 Galati, Romania, Tel.: +40.372.361.102, fax: +40.372.361.290, Corresponding author: georgeta.modiga@yahoo.com.


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