We all heard those words not once or twice – they became a part of our everyday reality and we see them in newspapers, book, and hear them on the radio or on the TV news.
But what is exactly the European citizenship? What impact, if any, it has on our lives? Why is it so important to foster the feeling of being a European citizen? In this short article we will try to give you some short answers to all those questions
What is European citizenship?
European citizenship is a citizenship additional to the citizenship of each EU member state. It doesn’t have to applied for and is automatically awarded to every person holds the passport of any EU member state. It cannot be obtained in any other way than by having a citizenship of one of the member states of the European Union.
As you probably seen all the passports of EU member states have “European Union” written on them.
As the European Union at first was mainly an economic organization and only later started to transform into a more complex community the European citizenship was not introduced only until the Treaty of Maastricht that came into force in 1993.
What are the advantages?
Although some people are not always aware of that European citizenship gives us quite a lot of rights and advantages. It all can make our life much easier and better, if we only know how to take advantage of these.
èWe can vote in European elections (regardless on which MS you live in – if you live in a different EU MS you can add yourself to the voting list there)
èYou can travel to, live in and work in another EU member state freely
èYou have a right to consular protection from a consulate/embassy of a different EU member state if your country doesn’t have a diplomatic representation in the country you need protection in
And many more – like taking part in youth projects that we all know and love so much… ;)
Why is it important to foster the European Feeling?
Living in the united Europe we do now, with people moving and travelling all around it is very important to foster the feeling of European citizenship, especially now, in the times of economic crisis we have. Some may wonder why? Well, here are few good reasons why we should do that:
- Most of the legislation is now made on supranational, European level, thus the feeling of European identity and citizenship is needed in order to have legitimacy for the actions
- As European citizens we have some rights that everyone should be aware of and be able to use them when needed
- In order to reach a conflict free Europe we have to learn how to respect others and solve our misunderstandings peacefully
- The world is globalizing and the roles on the international arena are changing – if Europe wants to be competitive it has to speak with one voice
- European values are something that is binding us together – we all have similar cultural backgrounds and it is up to us to explore the differences between them and embrace them for the good of all
- Together we can achieve more on every level (R&D, education, infrastructure…)– by working, cooperating and exchanging good practices we can achieve much more than if we were working alone
- By fostering European identity and values we are acting against far right and nationalism (and we all know from history how devastating such movements can be)
- The world has globalised – there are almost no borders and it is much more common for people to move around the countries – it is more and more probable that we will meet people of different cultures on our way and the European identity is something that we might have in common
Since 2010 in every Eurobarometer public opinion survey a question of feeling like a citizen of European Union is asked. The results of the newest one, from spring 2014, have shown that 65% of all Europeans feel like citizens of the EU which is 6 points more than in the previous pool from autumn 2013. It’s actually the highest score as it comes to the question of feeling like an EU citizen since the first time the questions were asked in 2010!
At the moment YEU is working on a publication on European citizenship and identity – stay tuned it will be published soon!
In terms of the project “Europe for Youth Work and Youth Work for Europe” we have also published a questionnaire that aims at finding out the extent to which youth projects strengthen the European citizenship among young people who take part in them.
You can find the questionnaire here. We would appreciate it a lot if you could spend 5 minutes to help us and fill it in!