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Brussels, 3 December 2010

European Commission puts citizenship at the heart of justice and social affairs policies

European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Commissioner, called on Member States to put citizens at the heart of justice and social affairs policies. For the first time, Vice-President Reding today presented the EU Citizenship Report to Justice Ministers. The report will also be on the agenda of the Social Affairs Ministers’ meeting on 6 December. As Commission President José Manuel Barroso said in his political guidelines in September 2009, the EU wants “a Europe that puts people at the heart of the agenda.” This vision is reflected in the Lisbon Treaty in which citizens are at the heart of EU policies. The EU is taking concrete action to make it easier for the 12 million EU citizens who live outside of their home countries. The Commission, which adopted the Citizenship Report on 27 October, proposed measures to make peoples’ lives easier when they exercise their EU rights to get married, buy a house or register a car in another EU country (see IP/10/1390 and MEMO/10/525). These initiatives are described in citizen-friendly language in 10 factsheets published today.

"The first ever EU Citizenship Report puts citizens at the heart of EU policies," said Vice-President Reding, the EU’s Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Commissioner. "We have looked at the obstacles to Europeans in their everyday lives when living, working and travelling in other EU countries and put forward practical solutions to resolve them. I now look forward to working closely with national governments and the European Parliament to put these solutions into practice."

The first-ever EU Citizenship Report looks at everyday problems faced by citizens when they exercise their EU rights and extend aspects of their lives beyond national borders: when they travel, study, work, get married, buy a house or car in another EU country. The report includes 25 measures the Commission plans to take in the next three years to make life easier for European citizens:

  • Tourists/Expatriates: The Commission will update the rules protecting holiday makers from, for example, bankruptcy of their travel provider during their holiday (IP/09/1824). The Commission will also propose additional ways to strengthen the rights of passengers in all modes of transport and enforce the rights of air passengers (such as in case of long delays and cancellations). The Commission will further reinforce the right to consular protection for EU citizens whose home Member State is not represented in third countries, by strengthening the legal framework and increasing awareness among citizens and consular officials.

  • Consumers: the Commission will help consumers get redress if they have problems with a trader, by facilitating the fast and inexpensive out-of-court resolution of disputes across borders, through the promotion of alternative dispute resolution and mediation.

  • Couples: the Commission will propose legislation to make it easier for international couples to know which courts have jurisdiction and which country's law applies to their jointly owned house or bank accounts.

  • Workers: the Commission is developing a new system of electronic exchange of information between national administrations so as to make it simpler and quicker for people working in another EU country to transfer their social security rights.

  • Car owners: the Commission will propose legislation to simplify the paperwork and formalities for the registration of cars bought in another EU country and will address cases in which citizens are required to pay registration tax twice.

The Commission has published 10 factsheets on these measures:

The Citizenship Report is available at the Justice Directorate-General Newsroom:

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship:

MEMO/10/525, IP/10/1390

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