European Commision proposes 2013 as the "European Year of Citizens"

To mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Union citizenship under the Maastricht Treaty, on 1 November 1993, the European Commission has proposed to designate 2013 as the “European Year of Citizens”.

”If Europeans do not know their rights, they cannot effectively exercise them. Today 48% of Europeans feel that they are not well informed about their rights. The European Year of Citizens will help us change this” said said Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU-Commissioner responsible for Justice and Citizenship.

20 years after the creation of Union citizenship, which is complementary to national citizenship, tangible progress has been made, directly affecting the lives of millions. For instance some of the benefits deriving from European Citizenship are related to travelling abroad and cheaper travel costs, hassle-free border crossings, access to healthcare systems and cheaper roaming tarifs.

The purpose of the European Year of Citizens is to facilitate Union citizens’ exercising their right to move and reside freely within the EU by ensuring they can easily access information about their rights.

More specifically, the aim of the Year is to:
• raise citizens’ awareness of their right to reside freely within the European Union;
• raise citizens’ awareness of how they can benefit from EU rights and policies and to stimulate their active participation in Union policy-making;
• stimulate debate about the impact and potential of the right to free movement, in particular in terms of strengthening cohesion and people’s mutual understanding of one another.

To mark the European Year of Citizens 2013, a range of events, conferences and seminars will be organised across the EU at Union, national, regional or local level.

The Commission is also planning to strengthen the visibility of the multilingual Europe Direct and Your Europe web portals as key elements of a ‘one-stop-shop’ information system on Union citizens’ rights, as well as the role and visibility of problem solving tools, such as SOLVIT, to allow Union citizens to better make use of and defend their rights.

The decision will need approval from the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers in the following months.

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