2013 is the European Year of citizens
Being an EU citizen has a direct impact on your daily life in providing you with rights, such as moving and staying freely within the European Union, studying or working in another EU country, having access to health care everywhere in Europe or paying less for your phone calls. The European citizenship also allows you to vote in and stand for municipal and European elections in the country where they reside. The next European Parliament elections will take place in 2014.
However those rights are not always well known by many Europeans as a study dating back to 2010 (Eurobarometer on EU citizenship) shows: only 43% of respondents know the true meaning of “European Union citizenship” and nearly half of all European citizens (48%) feel they are “not well informed” about their rights.
The overall objective of the European Year of citizens 2013 (EYC2013), which marks the 20th anniversary of EU citizenship, introduced by the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, is to raise awareness of your rights as EU citizens and stimulate a wide debate on the development of EU citizenship and on how the EU should be in 2020. It will be a good opportunity to trigger a dialogue between all levels of government, civil society, business and interested stakeholders and look at obstacles EU citizens still encounter in their daily lives when exercising their EU rights, notably their right to free movement and their political rights and to discuss solutions to remove these obstacles.
The discussion will notably draw on the study 'Participatory Citizenship in the European Union' published in May 2012 and on the outcome of the public consultation on EU citizenship launched last summer and will feed the 2013 EU Citizenship Report to be issued in May 2013 by the European Commission as a major contribution to the EY2013.
Civil Society Alliance
In order to contribute to the promotion of a comprehensive approach of EU citizenship and bring the ageing perspective, AGE has joined the European Year of Citizens 2013 Alliance (abbreviated as EYCA) bringing together civil society organisations standing for citizens’ concern in a wide range of EU policy areas. The aim of the Alliance is to make the voice of the civil society heard within the debate around EU citizenship and to broaden the understanding of EU citizenship and the scope of EYC2013 beyond the economic and legal dimensions. It promotes the notion of democratic and active citizenship in the sense of supporting citizens’ involvement and participation in public affairs, society and the life of their communities, in terms of activity and decision-making. This notion of citizenship should be based on citizens’ legal status including all aspects of life and foster all citizens (including the most disadvantage groups) to take part in the policy-making processes at all levels.
The Lisbon Treaty already provides a broader framework for the development of European citizenship rooted in a “community of values” and reinforces its social and political dimension in granting the Charter of Fundamental Rights the same legal value as the EU treaties and in enhancing the involvement of citizens and civil society organisations in the European processes.
The Alliance will contribute to make sure that the EYC2013 reflects this approach and will throughout 2013 promote activities which would facilitate and support various expressions and mobilisation of active citizenship in Europe.
The key message of the EYC2013 Alliance is summarized in its Manifesto.
AGE further contribution
Regular update on the EYC2013 was provided in AGE's monthly newsletter CoverAGE: www.age-platform.eu/en/coverage/coverage-en
To mark the European Year of Citizens 2013, AGE also produced the leaflet 'In support of an active senior citizenship in Europe', which presents AGE's work to encourage the participation of older people in the decision-making processes that concern them. In particular, the leaflet highlights AGE’s activities to promote civil dialogue, as well as the involvement of users in research projects. It also includes a series of recommendations to foster active senior citizenship at grass root level. The document is also available in French. If you wish to receive some printed copies of the publication, please do not hesitate to contact AGE secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org
Other useful materials
The EYC2013 official website aims to support the objectives of the EU Year in providing information on your rights as EU citizens, on how to take part in the EU policy debate and on the relevant upcoming events. You are also invited to share an event organised in the framework of the EYC2013.
The European Year 2013 is also an excellent opportunity for stakeholders at local and regional level to debate about Europe with citizens in the member states. For that reason, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) has developed an online toolkit providing background information and communication material, helping CoR members and other stakeholders to bring the key messages of EU citizenship at a local and regional level. This online toolkit is available on the CoR website: www.cor.europa.eu/ey2013
On this page, you will also find the proceedings brochure with a report of the Forum of 28 November 2012 about the regional and local impact of the European Year.
In Belgium, the website Youreurope.be (available in English, Dutch, French and German) has been developed in the framework of the EU Year by the Belgian authorities with the collaboration of the Representation of the European Commission in Belgium, the Information Office of the European Parliament in Brussels, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.
- EY2013 official website: http://europa.eu/citizens-2013
- EY2013 Alliance: http://www.ey2013-alliance.eu/index.html
- European Commission press release: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-2_en.htm
- EY2013 launch event: http://eu2013.ie/news/news-items/20130110eyclaunch/
- AGE members' initiatives to promote the EYC2013