Every person holding a nationality of a Member State is a citizen of the Union. A citizenship of the Union was established by the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. It is included in Part Two (Articles 17–22) of the EC Treaty. The EU citizenship complements national citizenship of the Member States and does not replace it. Citizens of the Union enjoy rights conferred by the Treaty and they are subject to duties imposed thereby.
The importance of citizenship of the Union lies in the fact that the citizens of the Union have genuine rights under Community law. The core rights conferred by citizenship under Part Two of the EC Treaty are:
- freedom of movement and the right of residence within the territory of the Member States;
- right to vote and stand as a candidate at elections to the European Parliament and at municipal elections in the Member State of residence;
- right to diplomatic and consular protection;
- right of petition to the European Parliament; and
right to refer to the Ombudsman.
Nationality of the Member States
The citizenship of the Union does not replace the national citizenship, but a nationality of Member States is entirely a matter for the Member States concerned, as the Declaration on nationality of a Member State appended to the Treaty of Maastricht confirms. It is therefore for each Member State, having due regard to the Community law, to lay down the conditions for acquisition and loss of nationality. The European Union does not have any competencies in that regard.