The European Parliament and the development of European citizenship: From Tindemans to Spinelli (1972-1984)

Briefing 24-06-2024

The concept of European Union (EU) citizenship was formally introduced into the EU constitutional order by Article 8 of the Treaty of Maastricht (today Article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, TFEU). This form of citizenship is additional to national citizenship and does not replace it. However, the introduction of European citizenship took over two decades to reach fruition – from discussions in the early 1970s up to the 1992 Maastricht Treaty. This briefing examines the formative phase in the development of European citizenship, from the early 1970s to the 1984 Draft Treaty establishing the European Union. It highlights key milestones, including the 1975 Tindemans Report, the 1979 European elections, and the Spinelli Project of the early 1980s, emphasising the European Parliament's role in this process. Despite lacking substantial legislative power at the time, Parliament introduced crucial ideas that shifted the discourse from a market-centred to a politically oriented concept of citizenship. Leaders like Tindemans and Spinelli were instrumental in this transformation, striving relentlessly – though only partially successfully – to move beyond the nation-state and market integration as the ultimate reference points for European citizenship. Their efforts laid the groundwork for the more comprehensive notion of European citizenship that would eventually emerge during the Maastricht negotiations, indicating how these early debates marked a significant step towards democratising European integration and enriching the debate on European citizenship. This is the first in a series of briefings looking at the role of the European Parliament in the development of European citizenship, ranging from the 1972 Paris Summit to the 2003 Draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.