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Strasbourg, 12 March 2014
EU Citizenship: European Parliament supports Commission's efforts to foster EU citizens' rights
The European Parliament has today welcomed the European Commission's proposals to reinforce EU citizens’ rights with a series of actions to tackle obstacles that citizens still encounter in their everyday lives. The European Parliament's own initiative Report (adopted 562 for, 95 against, 11 abstentions) on the European Commission's 2013 EU Citizenship Report (IP/13/410 and MEMO/13/409) fully supports the Commission's approach in addressing the concrete problems citizens encounter, for instance when job-searching or studying in another EU country, as well as ensuring stronger participation in the democratic life of the Union.
“We receive over 1 million enquiries every year from citizens on issues that relate to their rights. Add to these the questions people ask during the Citizens' Dialogues and you get a long shopping list of what citizens want to see improved through the EU. That is why the Commission is acting to reinforce citizens’ rights in everyday situations, like looking for a job, shopping online or participating in the democratic life of our Union," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. "I want to thank rapporteur Nikolaos Salavrakos for his committed work on the report adopted today. It shows: the European Parliament, like the Commission, puts citizens and their rights centre stage. This is important – not only in the run-up to the European Parliament elections but also on every other day. Together we are working to make EU citizenship a reality in people's daily lives."
The European Parliament's report particularly welcomes the Commission's proposals making it easier for EU citizens to work and doing training in another EU country; reducing excessive paperwork for EU citizens living and travelling in the EU; and eliminating barriers to cross-border shopping. It underlines the role of Member States including local authorities in upholding citizens' rights. It also welcomes measures put forward to better inform citizens about their EU rights.
In the run up to the European elections, the European Parliament also expressed its strong support for measures enabling citizens to engage in the debate and fully participate in the democratic life of the Union, something the Commission has been spearheading with a series of over 50 Citizens' Dialogues across Europe.
Two decades after the Treaty of Maastricht laid down EU citizenship rights, these rights are not always a reality in people’s everyday lives. This has been confirmed by EU citizens in a wide-ranging public consultation on EU Citizenship (IP/12/461) which illustrates the hurdles they still face in the EU. Eurobarometer surveys on citizenship (IP/13/119) and electoral rights (IP/13/215), a series of Citizens' Dialogues with national and European politicians, a hearing in the European Parliament in February 2013, as well as large numbers of complaints and queries from the public to the Commission and the European Parliament confirm that more needs to be done. The Commission is responding to these concerns.
The EU Citizenship Report 2013 announced 12 new actions in six areas to strengthen citizens' rights (see full list of the 12 actions in the annex):
Many of the 12 actions have already been taken:
The EU Citizenship Report formed the centrepiece of the 2013 European Year of Citizens and also took stock of progress made since the first EU Citizenship Report in 2010 (see IP/10/1390 and MEMO/10/525) - with the Commission delivering on the 25 action items announced in October 2010. The table of progress can be viewed here.
Some examples of the actions achieved after the first Citizenship Report in 2010:
For more information
European Commission – EU Citizenship:
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
Follow the Vice-President on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU
ANNEX: Twelve new key actions to improve EU citizens' lives
Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED