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20/12/2013

The European Year of Citizens 2013 is almost over… or is it?

Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, announced a continuation of the actions of the European Year of Citizens 2013 into 2014, the year of the European Elections. She was taking part in the closing conference for the European Year in Vilnius on 13 December to address over 300 delegates from civil society organisations, EU institutions and national governmental authorities from all over the EU and beyond. There, she also received a set of policy recommendations drafted by the European Year of Citizens Alliance (EYCA), a strategic partner of the European Commission drawn from the world of civil society organisations to help implement the activities of the European Year. The EYCA policy recommendations, as well as the European Commission's 2013 EU Citizenship Report and related Council Conclusions, and other key results of the European Year, will help ensure a lasting policy-development legacy on EU citizenship issues for the years to come.

At the closing conference of European Year of Citizens 2013 in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 12-13 December 2013, more than 300 delegates gathered from all  corners of Europe to address the conference's theme: “How To Make Every Year A Year For Citizens!”. The conference was divided into three main blocks of debates, so that there were plenty of opportunities to discuss “The role of Civil Society in European Democracy”, "EU citizenship in action – How citizens can influence policy-making", and “Participative and representative democracy: Two sides of a same coin”.

During her keynote speech, Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, announced that the actions of the European Year of Citizens 2013 would be continued into 2014, the year of the European Elections.

Another key moment of the conference was the ceremonial handover by Mr Jean-Marc Roirant, President of EYCA, of their set of 80 policy recommendations to Vice-President Reding. EYCA is a unique coalition of 62 EU-level networks representing over 4,000 national non-governmental organisations across Europe that are active on issues such as European integration and civic participation. The EYCA recommendations are the fruit of the expertise and work of national and European-level EYCA members, and are pitched at the EU Institutions, Member State authorities and civil society organisations themselves. The EYCA recommendations cover measures to —

  • help ensure that all citizens feel part of the European project;
  • educate about Europe, its values and its cultural diversity;
  • reinforce free movement for all citizens in Europe;
  • improve the interaction and communication between citizens and European institutions;
  • ensure that all citizens residing in the EU can participate in its political life;
  • recognise the importance of civil society organisations in the European democratic life;
  • ensure the effective contribution of civil society organisations; and
  • ensure an open, transparent and regular dialogue between civil society and the EU Institutions.

Upon receiving the recommendations, Vice-President Reding said: "I know what effort has gone into these 80 proposals, and I can tell you already here and now that those 80 proposals will be analysed, dissected and introduced into our own proposals for actions."

The conference was jointly hosted by the European Commission and the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU, with the active involvement of the Lithuanian national EYCA coalition.

Keynote speeches were given by Mr Algirdas Butkevičius, Prime Minister of Lithuania, Gediminas Kirkilas, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas and Chair of the Committee on European Affairs, Prof. Vytautas Landsbergis, Chairman of the Supreme Council of Lithuania-Reconstituent Seimas and Former Head of State of Lithuania. From the EU side, keynote speeches were delivered by Ms Viviane Reding, European Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, and Ms Emily O’ Reilly, the European Ombudsman.

 

More info:

Speech by Vice-President Reding: http://www.euronews.com/2013/12/13/year-of-citizens-closing-event-2013-professor-vytautas-landsbergis

Main messages of Vice-President Reding at the Vilnius Citizens' Dialogue: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-13-1077_en.htm

Press release by Ms Emily O'Reilly, the European Ombudsman: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_EO-13-19_en.htm

2013 EU Citizenship Report: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/reding/factsheets/citizenship-report/

EYCA: http://ey2013-alliance.eu/

EYCA Recommendations: http://ey2013-alliance.eu/itsaboutusitsabouteurope/

 

 

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