The Laeken declaration (2001) expressed the ambition to bring the European institutions closer to the citizens of the Union. The Union needed to become more democratic, more transparent and more efficient. It also had to resolve three basic challenges: how to bring citizens, primarily the young, closer to the European design and the European institutions, how to organise politics and the European political area in an enlarged Union and how to develop the Union into a stabilising factor and model in the new, multipolar world.
The Laeken declaration led to the Convention on the future of Europe, which drafted the Constitutional Treaty, approved by the intergovernmental conference (IGC 2004) with modifications and signed by all member state governments on 29 October 2004.
Equality and citizenship are two of the cornerstones of the relationship between the Europeans and the European Union.
The Treaty of Maastricht (1992) established the citizenship of the European Union.
The existing Article 12 TEC prohibits discrimination on the grounds of nationality: Within the scope of application of this Treaty, and without prejudice to any special provisions contained therein, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited.
Article 13(1) TEC offers the legal basis for “appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation”.
The Lisbon Treaty broadens the scope of these prohibitions on discrimination by adding positive obligations to observe equality and equal treatment in all Union action.
In the draft Constitution, the Convention proposed a new Article I-44, which became the basis for the wording of the Constitutional Treaty. The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (OJ 16.12.2004, C 310), Title VI , The democratic life of the Union, Article I-45, The principle of democratic equality: In all its activities, the Union shall observe the principle of equality of its citizens, who shall receive equal attention from its institutions, bodies, offices and agencies.
This sentence was taken over by the intergovernmental conference (IGC 2007) and inserted into the new article 8 TEU.
More than half a century since the beginning of European integration, we are still in the middle of a process of transforming economic communities into a Union of people, with full rights for its citizens.
The so called Spinelli project of the European Parliament (1984), the draft Treaty establishing the European Union, would have established the EU and introduced a citizenship of the Union. These reforms had to wait until 1992, when the European leaders were ready to introduce them in the Treaty on European Union (Treaty of Maastricht).
Article 17(1) of the present Treaty on establishing the European Community (TEC): Citizenship of the Union is hereby established. Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship.
There seem to be people out there, horrified by the prospect of becoming citizens and acquiring fundamental rights in the European Union. Let it therefore be said:
In the new Article 8 TEU there is no need to establish the citizenship of the European Union, because it exists since the Treaty of Maastricht, which entered into force in November 1993.
Then to the wording:
“Every person” becomes “every national” in the amending Lisbon Treaty, but the meaning of the second sentence is the same as in Article 17(1) TEC.
The third sentence alters the wording slightly. Citizenship of the Union shall “complement” national citizenship becomes shall be “additional to” in the new Article 8 TEU, without altering the meaning.
In the draft Constitutional Treaty the corresponding clause was Article I-8(1). In the Constitutional Treaty the wording of Article I-10(1) was already the same as the second and third sentences of Article 8 TEU in the Lisbon Treaty.
My consolidated version: The Treaty of Lisbon (OJ 17.12.2007, C 306/1) amending the Treaty on European Union (latest consolidation OJ 29.12.2006, C 321 E), new Title II, Provisions on democratic principles, with new Article 8:
In all its activities, the Union shall observe the principle of the equality of its citizens, who shall receive equal attention from its institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. Every national of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be additional to national citizenship and shall not replace it.
My next Lisbon Treaty instalment is going to look at the democratic principles of the European Union.