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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 23 November 2012

"It's about Europe. It's about you. Join the debate" – 2013 is the 'European Year of Citizens'

2013 has been officially named "The European Year of Citizens". 20 years after the introduction of EU Citizenship, the year will focus both on what has already been achieved for citizens and on meeting citizens' expectations for the future. The decision by the European Parliament and the Council on the proposal by the European Commission was published in the Official Journal today. Events throughout the European Year will explain how people can directly benefit from their EU rights and which policies and programmes exist. The European Year will also stimulate an EU-wide debate with citizens about what the European Union should look like in the future and which reforms are needed to improve their every-day lives.

"After 20 years of EU citizenship, much has been achieved. It is time to reflect on where we stand and what the future should bring," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU-Commissioner responsible for Justice and Citizenship. "People expect concrete results from Europe, and with cheaper roaming charges, better rights for crime victims and easier shopping online for consumers, that is exactly what we are delivering. We want to keep delivering on citizens' rights and this is why we are dedicating a full year to those at the heart of the European project – our citizens. The European Year of Citizens is an opportunity for us to listen and learn from you what you want and how we can build the European Union of the future together."

The European Year of Citizens coincides with the 20th anniversary of the introduction of EU Citizenship, when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993. 2013 will also be the year when the Commission adopts its next EU Citizenship Report (see the 2010 report: IP/10/1390), which will present further targeted EU initiatives to remove the remaining obstacles that hinder citizens from fully enjoying their rights. One year before the European elections 2014, it is also the right moment for a broad debate about the future.

To prepare the ground for the European Year, the Commission held a broad public consultation between 9 May and 9 September 2012 asking citizens what problems they have encountered in exercising their rights as EU citizens (see IP/12/461). The contributions, which are currently being analysed, will feed into the Citizenship Report to be published on 9 May 2013.

As part of the Year, politicians have started holding debates with citizens directly about the future of Europe. Such debates will be held all across the Union over the course of 2013. Everyone will be free to join the debates: http://ec.europa.eu/european-debate/interactive_map/estonia/index_en.htm. The first debates already took place in Spain, Austria and Germany and many more are still to come.

The European Year of Citizens will be officially launched by a debate with citizens in Dublin on 10 January 2013, coinciding with the start of the Irish presidency of the Council.

Background

Today's publication of the decision to make the 2013 the European Year of Citizens in the EU's Official Journal, the EU's statute book, follows the adoption by the European Parliament and the Council to a Commission proposal from August 2011 (see IP/11/959).

This Decision indicates a budget for the European Year of €1 million. The final level of the budget allocated to the European Year is subject to ongoing negotiations about the EU Budget for 2013.

The European Year communication campaign will make the most of existing tools and materials (such as websites, portals, videos, brochures, events etc) to raise awareness about, and promote the use of, existing multilingual information and participatory tools (including Europe Direct, Your Europe, SOLVIT, Interactive Policy Making, the European Citizens' Initiative, Petitions) to address citizens' concerns and make a real difference in their every-day lives. To achieve this, the Commission is working closely with the other EU Institutions, Member State authorities (at national, regional and local level) and civil society organisations.

An EU-wide alliance of civil society organisations has set itself up expressly to collaborate with the Commission on the European Year. This 'European Year of Citizens Alliance' (EYCA, http://ey2013-alliance.eu/) is a key strategic partner representing civil society.

For more information

Join the great European debate:

http://ec.europa.eu/european-debate/interactive_map/estonia/index_en.htm

Website of European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/reding/index_en.htm

Website of the European Year of Citizens:

http://www.europa.eu/citizens-2013

Official Decision of the European Parliament and the Council setting up the European Year of Citizens:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:325:0001:0008:EN:PDF

Your Europe - Help and advice for EU nationals and their family

http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/index_en.htm

The 2010 edition of the EU Citizenship Report (which called for this European Year):

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/citizen/files/com_2010_603_en.pdf

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)


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