Introduction To Our Citizenship Statute
The ongoing crisis in Ukraine is redefining what it means to be a European citizen, at the same time as our Union still grapples to understand Brexit and the loss of European Citizenship for millions. Other citizenship rights are being redefined: our health rights in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, our environmental rights in the context of the climate emergency, and our digital rights in the midst of the digital revolution. This unprecedented context presents a necessity for European civil society to define the basis and the future of European Citizenship for the 21st century.
Since it was established in 2015, the ECIT Foundation has developed as the only European think-tank devoted exclusively to the promotion and discussion of European Citizenship. At the outset, ECIT was alone in demanding and putting forward proposals for a Statute on European Citizenship — our attempt to codify and redefine the rights constituting what it means to be a European citizen. Every year since then, we have brought together civil society activists, policy makers and academics at our Annual Conference, with our proposal for a Statute at the centre of debate.
We have successfully brought this idea to the attention of the EU Institutions. In 2019, the European Parliament called for a Statute consolidating European citizens’ rights alongside the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Pillar of Social Rights. This demand was repeated in March 2022 in response to the Commission’s 2020 Citizenship Report. The demand for a Statute is also coming from the citizens in the Conference on the Future of Europe, who have endorsed the idea. Finally, the European Parliament has recently expressed that it wants European Citizenship to develop, having earmarked a Statute on Citizenship as an item for Treaty reform.
This is a remarkable achievement, demonstrating that ideas can come from the grassroots level and make it onto the EU’s agenda, as a result of largely voluntary effort. To ensure the ideas in the Statute are implemented and enforced is, however, our next challenge.
Our text has brought together the dispersed elements of European Citizenship in a structure of rights, participation and a sense of belonging. The aim is both to make this first transnational citizenship of the modern era more visible, and to propose how gaps can be filled, new rights added and how the legal concept can become more inclusive and outward-looking.