"Citizens of the ten new Member States still do not have full rights of citizenship." Critically discuss.

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"Citizens of the ten new Member States still do not have full rights of citizenship."

Critically discuss.

By its very nature, the European Union is destined to grow. Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union establishes that "any European state which respects the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law may apply to become a member of the Union."1 Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of communism 15 years ago, Article 49 was inevitably set to be implemented eastwards leaving the matter of time hinging on the question of how fast the former communist countries will meet the political and economical requirements to suit the Union's standards.2 By 2002, among thirteen candidates, eight Central and East European (CEE) countries, namely Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia plus two Mediterranean islands namely Cyprus and Malta were approved to fulfil the "Copenhagen criteria" by the beginning of 2004, setting therefore "the biggest and most ambitious enlargement in the EU history."3

For many external observers and analysts, however, the enlargement is often viewed in a rather abstract way, as it appears merely in terms of ten new states or ten new economies, thereby encouraging blindness towards the essence - nearly 75 millions of EU new citizens... At the end of the day it is the people who embrace the notion of a state and run its economy; it is they whose vast majority has supported the idea of joining the EU in national referendums4, and it is they who, upon joining, have arguably become unwelcome among many of their co-citizens from the old member countries (EU-15). Be it the legal expressions of such inhospitality or other possible obstacles in the newcomers' integration, their rights of citizenship are widely questioned today as being incomplete. To examine such assertions, this essay will look at the concept of the European citizenship as such and discuss the degree and the legitimacy of its practical application on the citizens of ten new Member States.

Article 17 of the Treaty of Rome establishes that "every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall [automatically] be a citizen of the Union"; the concept of European citizenship was one of the dominant ideas in the Maastricht Treaty5 and was given a special importance in the Treaty of Amsterdam6; the European Court of Justice in Rudy Grzelczyk v. Centre Public d'Aide Sociale d'Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve7, has stated that Union citizenship will be the "fundamental status of nationals of Member States"... By all legal means, the idea of the common European citizenship is an inalienable part of the EU foundations. As such, EU citizenship gives its holders unique political, economic and civil rights and freedoms within the Union, while in the context of the given topic, there are two problematic aspects in which citizenship of the Union is to be examined: minorities' rights and, to larger extent, free movement of workers.

Starting with the latter, there is to mention that in addition to free movement of services, goods and capital, 'free movement of workers'8 is one of four fundamental freedoms that are essential to the establishment of the internal market, the existence of which is often viewed if not as an ultimate, but as one of the key goals of the Union. In theory, the nationals of all ten new Member States are now officially EU citizens with the right to live and work in any Member State. The reality, however, is that domestic objections in employment policies have already led fourteen of the original EU states (with exception of Sweden) to impose employment or welfare access restrictions on citizens of the new Member States. The so-called "transitional measures" that however do not apply on Cyprus and Malta9 thanks to their small size and relative economic strength, are due to be in force for a maximum of seven years10 from the day of enlargement, as it was set in the Accession Treaty signed between EU-15 and ten approved candidate states in April 2003 in Athens. Among fourteen "old" Member States, most decided to keep the current working permit system, with Germany and Austria imposing extra measures on the freedom to provide certain services, and Italy, Portugal and Netherlands having set additional immigration quotas. Less limitations were laid down in UK and Ireland, where apart from the access to social welfare, and compulsory registration (UK only) no restrictions apply.
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Considering the practical dimension and policy issues of such steps, there are three main points of view to examine: the EU-15's, the CEE's and the Internal Market's as a whole. As for EU-15, several arguments may be suggested. The most widespread is that immigrants reduce average incomes, displace local workers from employment and increase the burden on social and welfare services. In his book "What Kind of Europe", professor Loukas Tsoukalis emphasises the political matter of the immigration problem, pointing out that "there is a widespread fear (mostly exaggerated) among Union citizens that enlargement will lead to large ...

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