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Towards the Citizen? Legal Integration in the European Union

Hausarbeit (Hauptseminar) 2006 18 Seiten

Politik - Internationale Politik - Thema: Europäische Union


Table of Contents

I. Introduction
I.1. Preliminary References – a placement of relevance
I.2. Methodology – the Questions

II. European Citizenship
II.1. Introduction to Citizenship
II.2. Rights for Everyone?
II.3. New rights?
II.4. Sub-Conclusion

III. European Social Policies
III.1. Introduction to Social Policies
III.2. The Development of EU Social Policy
III.3. Driving Forces for Integration
III.4. EU Social Policy Legislation
III.5. Sub-Conclusion

IV. Conclusion

List of References


List of Abbreviations

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I. Introduction

The integration process of the European Union has transformed the solely economical cooperation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) into a somehow political entity. Starting with the ECSC in 1951, the Single European Market (SEM) was completed by the introduction of the common currency, the Euro, in 2002 - which was an important step for the economic integration. However, besides an economic integration, also political integration made progress – especially since the establishment of the European Union by the so called Maastricht Treaty (TEU) in 1992. Both different perspectives of integration were accompanied by a concise legal integration. The competences of community law have exceeded tremendously. The future of the integration process is unknown and non-predictable. However a trade-off between deepening integration and widening enlargement is the future challenge of the EU. Also further accessions might pose constraints to a deepened integration, and thus to further political integration.

It is commonly agreed that ongoing integration needs a higher “connectedness” of the European Union and the Europeans – otherwise democracy and legitimacy deficits will become worse. Since the 1980s the debate about how to include the Europeans a bit more in the integration process gained influence. In the 1980s the first steps were made by setting up a social charter that was mainly concerned with the rights of workers. Also the creation of the status of citizenship by the TEU in 1992 was intended to support the common market. Additionally the European Community gained new and broadened its competences in social policies. Both areas – citizenship and social policies - are directly related to the Europeans.

The concept of citizenship and also the reach of European Social Policies are arguable from a variety of starting points. Questions about identity and welfare states in general might occur. A different perspective is the legal one. Of course the effectiveness of politics cannot only be measured by the amount of law produced, but without legal consequences policy outcomes or outputs are kind of worthless. So, the core of this paper shall elaborate not on political dimensions connected to the Europeans, but on legal ones. At a first sight the formal introduction of citizenship and the inclusion of social policies in the EC Treaty might look impressive, but what they actually mean will be analysed in this paper. Especially if they might be able to connect the EU a little bit more to its citizens.

I.1. Preliminary References – a placement of relevance

The Single European Act (SEA) is the first important Treaty that amended the provision laid down in the original founding treaties - the European Coal and Steel Community (1951), the European Economic Community (1957), and EURATOM (1957). For the sake of the creation of the SEM the different communities were united in 1986 as European Community. At that time a detailed definition of the SEM was laid down in Article 14 EC. This definition was connected to an obligation to finish the creation of the SEM by 1992. Furthermore new areas of competence were included like environmental matters and regional development. Additionally some institutional reforms were made by the SEA, like the introduction of the Court of First Instance.

Also driven by the changes in World Politics in the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s the Treaty establishing the European Union was set up in Maastricht in 1992. “The EU Treaty represents potentially the most significant advance in the Community’s development since its foundation in 1957.”[1] The commonly known three-pillar-structure was thus created, with its intergovernmental and supranational elements. Furthermore the objectives of the European Union were written down in Article 2 EU (Figure 1.). By this for the first time the European came to the limelight of treaty provisions, which was additionally emphasised by the creation of a formal European Citizenship in Articles 17-21 EC.

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Furthermore by one of the key provisions, to change the name by leaving out the term “economic” to only “European Community”, the direction of the Community was refocused away from “just” economics.

The amending treaties of Amsterdam and Nice mainly were concerned with the problems caused by a (at that time) possible future enlargement.

However, “the Treaty of Amsterdam also introduced a new Title on Social Policy, education, vocational training, and growth (Title XI), incorporating the protocol on social policy”[2]. This new title directly transferred competences related to the Europeans to the Community.

As this short summary of the dynamics of change of different Community Treaties shows, the incorporation of provisions related to the citizens has been a long process, mainly related to the economic integration. “As a political system the EU has been constituted through a legal instrument, the TEU; it has its own system of administration of justice, and its output has traditionally been measured in terms of the number of legally binding acts it has adopted.”[3] But this paper should take a (maybe ambitious) step further.

There are Treaty provisions that should connect the EU to its citizens. But the simple existence of provisions cannot be regarded as a step further in the attempt to include the Europeans. More important is the actual effect of these provisions on the lives of the Europeans. Additionally Community Law can have symbolic effects: “translating a matter into law also confers a recognition upon it, which gives it both a greater importance and a greater priority”[4]. For the reasons outlined above the research question of this paper shall be:

Did the legal integration since the Treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam bring the Union closer to its citizens?

I.2. Methodology – the Questions

It is commonly agreed that the European Union can neither be further integrated nor further enlarged without the support of the Europeans – because political systems depend on the support of the people living in the system. It is often argued that most European legislation concerned with the Europeans is a policy spill-over from the internal market. At the EU Councils in Maastricht and Amsterdam two areas have been included in the EU Treaties which will be used to answer the research question. The first one is European Citizenship introduced by the TEU in Maastricht in 1992. It gives direct rights to the Europeans. In Amsterdam a new Title on social policies was included in the EC Treaty, which gave competences to the Community. So, these two fields offer on the one hand a bottom-up perspective (citizenship), and on the other hand a top-down perspective (social policies).

The first part will be concerned with European Citizenship. As the whole process of how citizenship developed would boost the scope of this paper, the starting point is that citizenship is created in 1992. The development beyond facts summarized above will be ignored. The second part will elaborate on social policies. The sub-questions are summarized in the following table:

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Of course other EU-competences are related to the Europeans. But due to reasons of length, these two are picked and others are neglected consciously. Additionally this choice offers a top-down and bottom-up perspective. Furthermore the perspective of this paper has a strong economic focus. Sociologist would maybe argue the same process from a civil society perspective. But the economic focus presented reflects the main scientific debate.

II. European Citizenship

II.1. Introduction to Citizenship

The status of citizenship gives rights to the persons on which it is endowed. Besides the national version every European now possesses the European version of it. In the historic emergence of nation states citizenship has always been one core element of the creation of nation states. If this is the case in the European Union is doubtful. But nevertheless the creation of European Citizenship can be seen as a big step in the integration process, also due to its symbolic function. But if the concept of citizenship really endows the Europeans with new rights will be answered in this part.

II.2. Rights for Everyone?

In order to analyse the effect of the status of European Citizenship it must be made clear, who is entitled to citizenship, and what citizenship should include in general.

In principle citizenship can be distinguished into civil, political and social rights.[5] Their emergence can be closely linked to the creation of nation states, but they are not necessarily created in the same order. The scientific debate toady adds the environmental right as a fourth right. But the difference between the dimensions of citizenship is of no importance to this paper, as it is concerned with citizenship in general.

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In Maastricht four rights were incorporated into the EC Treaty. Article 18 EC is concerned with the right to free movement. Article 19 EC with the right to participate in municipal and European elections while resident in another member state. Furthermore Article 20 EC provides the right to diplomatic and consular protection of another member state while being outside the territory of the Union. And last but not least Article 21 EC endows the right to petition the European Parliament and the EU-Ombudsman. If those rights are actually new rights will be discussed in part II.3. But to whom are those rights given?

Citizen rights are “bestowed on those who are full members of a community”[6]. In the European Union according to Article 17 EC, citizenship is given to each national of a member state. This precondition creates problems not only from a normative perspective about who is a European and about what is European identity. Rules about nationality vary considerably among the member states. Some give the status according to jus soli , others to jus sanguinis .[7] These differences are especially problematic for third country nationals that want to receive the Union’s citizenship. The present stream of refugees at the Canary Island might be a first sign, that these differences in obtaining citizenship might need some harmonization in the nearest future.


[1] Deards and Hargreaves, 2004, p. 55.

[2] Deards and Hargreaves, 2004, p. 73.

[3] Chalmers, 2004, p. 57.

[4] Chalmers, 2004, p.57.

[5] The most common definition was made by T.H. Marshall in his essay “Citizenship and social class”. Marshall’s trinity of citizenship: the Civil Element is composed of the rights necessary for individual freedom. For example liberty of person; freedom of speech, thought and faith; the right to justice. The Political Element includes the right to participate in the exercise of political power, as a member of a body invested with political authority or as an elector of the members of such a body. The Social Element covers the whole range from the right to a modicum of economic welfare and security to the right to share to the full in the social heritage and to live the life of a civilized being according to the standards prevailing in the society. Marshall, 1964.

[6] Marshall, 1964, p. 92

[7] Levy, 1999.


ISBN (eBook)
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Institution / Hochschule
University of Twente – School of Management and Governance
Towards Citizen Legal Integration European Union




Titel: Towards the Citizen? Legal Integration in the European Union