of the European Economic and Social Committee
Making European citizenship visible and effective
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and justify publicly the reasons for proposals concerning European citizens' rights being blocked at the Council or withdrawn by the Commission;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.