• Algis Junevicius Kaunas University of Technology, Institute of Europe



The paradox in the formation of Union citizenship is that, on the one hand, its list of rights is primarily relevant for migrants and – again apart from the parliamentary permit - largely resembles the elements of enhanced denizen ship many member states had introduced before for their settled immigrants, but, on the other hand, its definition of the population to whom these rights apply excludes third country aliens, i.e. the great majority of migrants living in the territory of the Union. Union citizenship, first introduced in the Maastricht Treaty, confers a broad range of rights on national of the member states, including rights of movement, political rights, protection in non-EU states, and rights to petition. The relationship to national citizenship was clarified in the Treaty of Amsterdam: Union Citizenship is meant to supplement, not supplant, national citizenship. The European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights, signed and proclaimed in Nice December 2000, laid out the range of civil, political, economic and social rights conferred both to Union Citizens and other persons resident in the EU.
The Treaty of Lisbon, which was signed in Lisbon on 13 December 2007 and amends the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community, sought in particular to reinforce the democratic fabric of the European Union. One of its major innovations is to introduce the European citizens’ initiative. It provides that “not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties”. It also provides that the procedures and conditions required for such a citizens’ initiative, including the minimum number of Member States from which citizens must come, shall be determined in a Regulation to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on a proposal from the European Commission.
The European Commission welcomes the introduction of the citizens’ initiative, which will give a stronger voice to European Union citizens by giving them the right to call directly on the Commission to bring forward new policy initiatives. It will add a new dimension to European democracy, complement the set of rights related to the citizenship of the Union and increase the public debate around European politics, helping to build a genuine European public space. Its implementation will reinforce citizens’ and organized civil society’s involvement in the shaping of EU policies. The Commission is convinced that European citizens should benefit from this new right as quickly as possible after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The Commission’s ambition would therefore be to make it possible for the Regulation on the citizens’ initiative to be adopted before the end of the first year after the entry into force of the Treaty.






Social Evolution of Europe