From the 1990s, citizenship has become one of the key issues of the political debate.
The notion of citizenship is changing at a great pace because of the great economic, social and political changes occurred while
century moved into the 21st.
The classical concept of Citizenship
We can define citizenship as a legal and political status
which allows the citizen to acquire some rights (civil, political, social...) as an
individual and some duties (taxes, military service, loyalty...)
in relation to a political community, as well as the ability of intervening in the collective life of a
state. The latter right arises from the democratic principle of sovereignty of people.
Citizens -of Spain, United Kingdom, France,
Portugal, United States...- have a series of rights, granted by their constitutions, but also have obligations, with regard to their
community. In a democratic state, the citizen must fulfil those obligations since
they were passed by the representatives they have voted in, using one of the main
citizen's political rights, the suffrage.
Citizenship is restricted to
people who have that condition. People that live in a territory but lack the
status of citizen, are deprived of the rights and duties that citizenship
involves. Every state has laws to regulate the way an individual can acquire its
nationality, that is to say, the citizenship.
This concept of citizenship dates back to a historical period
initiated with the great liberal revolutions in the late 18th century. It is a
notion characterised by the pre-eminence of the state-nation as the political
community that comprises the individuals. Citizenship is tantamount to
Challenges to the State-nation and the citizenship
equivalent to nationality
From the classic ages (Greece,
Rome) to the present the concept of citizenship has evolved.
In the 21st century, we will witness citizenship quite different of a kind from
Although the Nation-state continues to be the key element of the world political
map, changes are taking place that portend an evident challenge to this kind of
Two major transformations are placing in question the role of the
State-nation and the concept of citizenship that it embraces:
Firstly, globalisation, that is to
say, the fact that the central and strategic economic activities are integrated
on a world scale through electronic webs of capitals, goods, and information exchange.
A key element of this globalisation is the development of the Internet and
the information society.
This globalisation of markets is the decisive factor that has impelled the last
step in the European
and Monetary Union.
The States-nation are less and less able to cope with the challenges of globalisation.
Secondly, the existence of more multicultural societies
that break up the theoretical homogeneity of States-nation. Regional or national diversity
(Spain, Belgium, United Kingdom) and multiculturalism and multiethnicity
brought about by growing immigration are key aspects of the new European society.
European citizenship will rise from this new
The Europe of the future
The road toward launching of the European Citizenship
The right of
movement of persons inside the Community was introduced in the constituent Treaty of the
EEC, signed in Rome in 1957.
This freedom did not appear bound to any citizenship concept but rather it was closely linked to the
conduct of an economic activity.
In consequence, the right of residence was accorded to workers and their families,
linked to the right to exercise a labour activity in another member State of the EEC.
a meeting of
held in Paris
in 1974, the necessity to grant special rights in the EEC to the citizens of the
member States was put forward. It was only in 1976, however, when the Tindemans
Report was issued, that for the first time, the object of proceeding beyond a
common market and creating a community of citizens, was clearly proposed..
This report, edited by the Belgian prime minister on request of the Summit of Paris 1974,
had no success with the
governments, though it had an important influence in later steps towards
In a chapter, titled Europe of the Citizens, Tindemans proposed the
enactment of different measures that made perceptible, by means of outward
signs, the rise of a European awareness: unification of passports, the
vanishing of border controls, the common use of the benefits of the Social Security systems, the
accreditation of academic
courses and degrees...
In 1976 a
second step took place when elections to the
by universal suffrage were conducted. Although Parliament's competences were meagre, for the first
time, one of the key elements of citizenship, democratic participation,
Later on, after the Fontainebleau
Council in 1984, a Committee of Europe of the Citizens, presided over by the Italian
Euro MP Adonnino, was established. This committee approved a series of
unambitious proposals leading to the constitution of a European
More audacious was the Project of Treaty of European
Union, passed by the European
Parliament, in February of 1984, and presented by the euro MP Alterio
Spinelli (Spinelli Project).
In spite of its restraint, the
European Act (1986) hardly included any of the Spinelli's project proposals, although
it adopted, and that is fundamental, the objective of a political European Union.
In this manner, a few years later, two
to reform the
One of them focused on the
and Monetary Union, the other
one, solely on the political Union.
A meeting of
which took place in Rome in October 1990, in the course of establishing the
guidelines, introduced a notion of European Citizenship, as an essential element of the Treaties
reform, and with some characteristics and similar rights to those
that were later
included in the Treaty of the European Union or Treaty of
It was the Spanish delegation that first presented to the
IGCs, in October
1990, a text on the European citizenship. After diverse negotiation, and with the
enthusiastic support of the
Parliament that passed two favourable resolutions in 1991, the Treaty of the European Union came finally to