Centrul de Drept Constituțional și Instituţii Politice (CDCIP)

Ioan MURARU – Corelation between national citizenship and European citizenship

There are lots of discussions today about rights, liberties, national citizenship, European citizenship, nationality and national identity, but concepts are not well-known and their political and legal dimensions are not entirely apprehended. This may cause, at times, inefficiency in approaching the matter.

Today we hear a lot of expressions like Romanian citizen, foreign citizen, and stateless person. A Romanian citizen is the citizen that has Romanian citizenship. A foreign citizen is the citizen that lives in Romania but has another citizenship. A stateless person is the person that has no citizenship at all. As far as concepts like citizenship and nationality are concerned, in the beginning, the word that pointed to the relation between a person and a state was nationality, but once the modern state developed and in parallel with the development of the principle of nationalities, this word has been replaced with the one of citizenship. Because the word nationality expresses the relation with a social body created on different basis than the state, only the concept of citizenship can express the legal relation between a person and state. The French doctrine is at the origin of the distinction between citizenship and nationality, although today it is the same doctrine that uses these two concepts as synonyms.

This brings into discussion the issue of the correlation between the Romanian citizenship and the European citizenship. There is a draft of a Constitution of the European Union which refers to the European citizenship in article 7, where it provides that any person having the nationality of a member of the European Union is citizen of the EU. But there is also the Maastricht Treaty, which completed the Treaty of Rome, and which includes a chapter on the European citizenship, thus creating the concept. A European citizen is anyone who holds the nationality of a member state. According to the Treaty, the European citizen has also some fundamental rights, which belong to him/her exclusively as a consequence of this particular status: the right to vote in local elections, legal protection from authorities of any of the member states, the right to petition in front of the European Parliament and the right to address petitions to the European Ombudsman.

Within a different European structure this time, there is also the European Convention on citizenship, adopted in Strasbourg in 1997 and ratified by Romania in 2002. The Convention provides for an explanation and not a definition, but it is significant that the citizenship is the legal relationship between a person and a state and does not indicate the ethnic origin of the person. Also, the Convention declares that stateless person situations have to be avoided.