European Year of Citizens 2013

by ERIO on January 25th, 2013

Over the past 4 decades the European Union has been designating each year to a particular theme in order to stimulate debate and foster greater awareness of the issue chosen. This year, ‘the Citizen’ has been selected as the topic of discussion, with the official launch on the 11th January in Dublin initiating an international programme of events designed to engage EU citizens with their own political status. It is 20 years since EU citizenship was first enshrined in the Treaty of Maastricht, a defining step on the path to ‘ever closer union’. However, the extent to which the people of the EU are aware of their citizenship rights and actively engage with them varies considerably. Notably, Roma communities in many member states lack the social, economic and political integration required to activate their citizenship rights. Consequently, this year’s programme raises the valuable opportunity for an important debate about what citizenship can and should mean for everyone, with the chance to look in particular detail at how it can be a tool for the integration of Europe’s marginalized communities. 

Development and maintenance of the Programme

The Year of Citizens was first mooted in a Commission Citizenship Report on 27th October 2010 and was eventually made official in a Decision of the European Parliament and the European Council on the 21st November 2012. It is a concerted response to worries in the institutions that there is not enough active engagement with EU citizenship.

The responsibility of overseeing the program lies with the Commission, with Viviane Reding, the Vice-President and EU Commissioner for Justice, Rights and Citizenship, taking control of its organization. The Commission will work with a number of strategic partners to ensure the success of the campaign, these include: the EU Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the Council of Europe, national coordinating bodies and the European Year of Citizens Alliance, a network of 50 civil society organizations.

In addition to a portion of the programme’s budget being spent on providing funding for civil society grassroots campaigns, the Commission itself is responsible for providing: a communication campaign, opening and closing conferences and meetings between EU Commissioners and citizens from across the European Union.
 
Priorities 
  • Raise the awareness of the general public about the rights and responsibilities attached to European Union citizenship and how they can tangibly enjoy those rights;
  • Raise awareness amongst the general public of how citizenship rights arise when they exercise their free movement rights and move to another member state;
  • Implement specific actions to raise awareness of opportunities to volunteer, study abroad, participate in a traineeship in another member state or take part in Union education exchange programmes;
  • Stimulate debate about the impact and potential of the right of freedom of movement and residence on social cohesion, equality and cultural diversity;
  • Take in to consideration the needs of vulnerable groups and ensure that clearly phrased information on their rights ofcCitizenship is freely provided to them in a language that they understand;
  • Promote active democratic participation and ensure an increased dialogue between the EU institutions and civil society.
 
Targets
 
Provide the opportunity for all EU citizens to:
  • Learn about the rights and opportunities open to them through EU citizenship – particularly their right to live and work anywhere in the EU;
  • Take part in debates about the obstacles to using these rights and generate specific proposals for addressing them;
  • Participate in civic fora on EU policies and issues;
  • Prepare to vote in the 2014 European elections and engage in the EU’s democratic life.

Budget
  • €2 million
  • Direct Union initiatives (such as the opening and closing debates) will be financed by the general budget of the Union

To find out more about the European Year of Citizens 2013 visit the official website: http://europa.eu/citizens-2013.


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