European Citizenship

European Citizenship was initially introduced in 1993 by the Treaty of Maastricht, formally known as the Treaty on the European Union. The concept was later on extended by the Treaty of Amsterdam which entered into force in 1999. The treaty of Amsterdam made further emphasis on citizenship and the rights of the individual.  

In a nutshell, the effect of the concept of European Citizenship is that any person who is a citizen of an EU country is automatically also a citizen of the EU itself. 

European Citizenship does not replace national citizenship in that the latter is the competency of each Member State. This was further clarified by the Amsterdam Treaty which provides that “citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship”. Therefore as a starting point, it is necessary that a person is a national of an EU Member State in order to enjoy citizenship of the Union and this European citizenship will supplement the rights conferred by national citizenship.

The aim of this concept is to strengthen the idea of a European identity and to instil a sense of belonging with respect to citizens of EU member states (‘United in Diversity’). 

European Citizenship Rights

With the introduction of the Lisbon Treaty, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is now primarily law and binding.   

European Citizenship presents various advantages and rights including free movement (which has historically been deemed to be the main benefit of European Citizenship), with freedom of movement presenting aplified opportunities of work throughout the EU; the right to vote in European Parliament elections to elect MEPs & the right to freedom from discrimination on nationality. 

Malta currently has six allocated seats in the European Parliament. One also has the right to stand as a candidate in local elections in the EU country of residence and also in elections of the European Parliament. Another important right is that of petition. An EU citizen can petition the European Commission to put forward a legislative proposal once a million EU citizens endorse such petition. One can also bring forward a complaint to the European Ombudsman in respect of EU institutions.

Traders have the right to consider the entire European Union as a potential market and therefore to purchase in any of the Member States and sell anywhere in the Union without any import duties or quantitative restrictions. Another important benefit is the Schengen Acquis which guarantees the free movement of persons by eliminating internal borders of the EU.

One of the rights which reflect the common European Identity is the right to consular protection by EU Member states when a person’s country of citizenship is not represented by an embassy or a consulate in the country they need protection in.

Finally it is important that an EU citizen knows of his rights to be able to enforce them.

European Citizenship and Malta

Malta present diverse ways of obtaining Maltese citizenship, namely:

  • By Birth
  • By Descent
  • By Marriage
  • By Naturalisation, including investment

Upon attainment of Maltese citizenship through the above mentioned modes, one would automatically attain European Citizenship as the latter is supplementary to national citizenship. European Citizenship in its entirety is obtained, with all its benefits and responsibilities.