In the European Union, the different legal dimensions of Union citizenship have developed very differently, both chronologically and substantially. Economic rights came at the beginning of the integration process and were only gradually supplemented by civil and political rights as well as social rights. What were the reasons for the unequal development of the different legal dimensions? Which actors were responsible for this development? What was the role of the Member States, the European institutions and EU citizens themselves? With the aim of better understanding their present appearance, this contribution describes the evolution of economic, civil, political and social rights in European Union law. Not only do the reservations of some Member States become clear but also the low level of influence of the European institutions and the disinterest of the citizens. The idea of the market citizen still characterises EU citizenship, and political and social rights can only be understood as an appendage of economic rights.