The Europeans of the 21st century have to face up to a major challenge: broadening the base of our democracies, including new citizens with equal rights and obligations. In order to achieve this, the right to Member State nationality and European citizenship must include all people of immigrant origin, who bring great national, ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. The Committee considers European democracies to be free and open societies, which must be based on the inclusion of all citizens, whatever their origins and reference points.
Given that many Member States have legislation that is restrictive as regards access to nationality, the Committee calls on them to adopt more flexible legislation and administrative procedures, in order to enable third-country nationals with long-term resident status to acquire nationality.
The Committee proposes that, in future, when the EU undertakes a new reform of the Treaty (TFEU), it amends Article 20 so that third-country nationals who have stable, long-term resident status can also become EU citizens.
The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is binding in nature and creates a new framework for European policies on immigration, integration and citizenship. The Commission should analyse the way in which the Charter affects the status and rights of third-country nationals, with a view to launching new initiatives to adapt immigration law to the guarantees enshrined in the Charter.