Citizens are and must be at the heart of European integration.
To underscore this, the EU institutions made 2013 the European Year of Citizens to give new impetus to EU citizenship and to the citizens’ dimension of the European project. At a time when the EU is taking major steps towards a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union, of which democratic legitimacy is a cornerstone, with a Political Union on the horizon, it is all the more important to focus on the things the EU is doing to make citizens’ lives easier, to help them understand their rights and involve them in a debate on Europe they want to live in and build for future generations.
EU citizenship brings citizens new rights and opportunities.
Moving and living freely within the EU is the right they associate most closely with EU citizenship. Given modern technology and the fact that it is now easier to travel, freedom of movement allows Europeans to expand their horizons beyond national borders, to leave their country for shorter or longer periods, to come and go between EU countries to work, study and train, to travel for business or for leisure, or to shop across borders. Free movement increases social and cultural interactions within the EU and creates closer bonds between Europeans. In addition, it generates mutual economic benefits for businesses and citizens, including those who remain at home, as the EU steadily removes internal obstacles.
In 1993, the Maastricht Treaty defined EU citizenship and granted a set of rights to all EU citizens, whether economically active or not. The Lisbon Treaty and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights reinforced EU citizens’ rights.
In particular, EU citizens have the right:
• not to be discriminated against on the grounds of nationality
• to move and reside freely within the EU
• to vote and stand as candidates in municipal and European Parliament elections wherever they live in the EU, under the same conditions as nationals
• to be assisted by another EU country’s embassy or consulate outside the EU under the same conditions as a citizen of that country, if their own country is not represented
• to petition the European Parliament, apply to the European Ombudsman and address the EU institutions (in any official EU language) and
• to organize or support, together with other EU citizens, a citizens’ initiative to call for new EU legislation.
Read full Report: EU Citizenship 2013 Report