Listening to citizens
The coming months and years will
be decisive for the European Union.
Further European integration must go
hand in hand with strengthening the
Union’s democratic legitimacy, which
is one reason why the EU has desig-
nated 2013 as the
It is vital that everyone is fully aware
of their rights and obligations in the
EU, and able to take full advantage of benefits such as freedom
of movement and cross-border protection. As I heard for myself
during Citizens’ Dialogues in cities like Cadiz and Graz, Dublin and
Thessaloniki, people want to know more about the role the EU
plays in their lives, and how they themselves can get involved.
There is no question that these are demanding times. People are
asking themselves: Are my savings safe in the bank? Will my chil-
dren find a job? What will happen to my pension? Communicating
the benefits of European citizenship has never been more
important, and perhaps never more challenging.
This is why Europe Direct is so critical in providing a communica-
tion link between the EU and its citizens. We need to bring the
creativity and innovation of our people into the decision-making
process, for this enables policy-makers to fully understand the
issues that most concern citizens. Engaging with citizens in the
run-up to the next European Parliamentary elections in 2014
makes this task even more important. Anti-European sentiment
must be addressed, demonstrating the real benefits Europe brings
to people’s daily lives. Communication is more than just about
relaying information, and it should certainly not be one-way traffic.
2013 is another challenging year. The economy remains vulner-
able, and unemployment, in particular youth unemployment, is a
critical issue that must be dealt with. Although many of us feel
uneasy about what lies ahead, we must have confidence in our
abilities and resourcefulness. We strongly believe that we are on
the right path to recovery.
Last year the EU was awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, in
recognition of over six decades of peace, reconciliation, democ-
racy and the advancement of human rights. The award represents
a brief moment of reflection, to recognise what has been achieved
in such a relatively short space of time, and why we are working
to deepen our commitment to each other.
I would like to honour all those Europe Direct members who have
served us with such distinction in the previous generation, from
2009 to 2012. During this difficult period, you have responded
positively, speaking up about the role of the EU in people’s
everyday lives and explaining initiatives and policies designed to
make life better. Your hard work, creativity and ideas have helped
to transform the Europe Direct network into an indispensable
communication platform for the whole European Union.
In 2012, a new call was launched for a new Europe Direct gener
ation. To our newest members, I would like to extend my warmest
greetings, and hope that 2013 brings with it new challenges,
friendships and successes. Together we are truly stronger.
Vice-President of the European Commission
Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship
© European Commission