Making European citizenship visible and effective

14 Sep 2006
Adopted References: CESE 1173/2006 - SOC/236 Own-initiative Rapporteur: Vever (Employers - GR I / France) Plenary Session: 429 - 13 Sep 2006 - 14 Sep 2006 (Summary Plenary Session) OJ C 318/163, 23.12.2006

OPINION of the European Economic and Social Committee on Making European citizenship visible and effective

Key points:

The formal inclusion of European citizenship rights in the recent treaties has not been enough to stop the rise of euro-scepticism in public opinion.
It is urgent to enable European citizenship to be used fully.

Firstly, the EESC proposes to put right particularly unjustified deficiencies in Europe, i.e.:

  • re-start work on and adopt rapidly a European statute for associations;
  • do the same as regards a European statute for mutual societies;
  • create a simplified European statute open to SMEs;
  • implement the Community patent between the Member States which have ratified it;
  • remove all double taxation, at least in the eurozone;
  • ensure non-discriminatory portability of social security benefits.

Secondly, the EESC proposes to develop a more citizen-oriented governance of the Union, i.e.:

  • put right the media's failure to make people aware of Europe by encouraging best practices, with the support of a European audiovisual agency;
  • upgrade the consultation phase in preparing projects, by ensuring they have more added value for citizens;
  • identify and justify publicly the reasons for proposals concerning European citizens' rights being blocked at the Council or withdrawn by the Commission;
  • promote socio-professional self-regulation and co-regulation in all areas of direct relevance to civil society;
  • set out the ground rules, in liaison with the various single market support agencies, for a concept of European public service, ultimately including a Europeanised customs service at the EU's external frontiers; develop more interactive methods of providing information about Europe;
  • involve socio-professional players in the interventions of the Structural Funds on the ground.

Finally, the EESC proposes to promote joint initiatives with a strong identity content, such as:

  • giving greater priority to EU budget funding of particularly significant major European projects (trans-European networks, research, advanced technology);
  • investing in ambitious European education and training programmes, not least in the field of languages, including a European non-military voluntary service scheme that is attractive to young people;
  • getting celebrities to talk about their sense of having a "European" identity;
  • investing in equally ambitious European cultural and media programmes, with a common statute for foundations and sponsors;
  • making particular progress in economic and social integration in the eurozone;
  • adopting decisions of major political significance, such as electing the European Parliament on the same day, making 9 May a European public holiday and bringing forward a European right of popular initiative.