The European Economic and Social Committee is pleased to invite you to a comprehensive exhibition designed by Deyrolle pour l'Avenir,celebrating the European Year of Citizens and exploring the meaning and implications of citizenship.
The European Year of Citizens in 2013 is an unparalleled opportunity for the European
Economic and Social Committee (EESC) to underline the direct role of Europe’s 500 million citizens in building unity and prosperity, fostering integration and nurturing social solidarity.
The EESC believes that there is much more to European citizenship, and that a political system such as the EU must cultivate and strengthen the political, social and cultural dimensions of the Union. If we want people to feel truly connected to Europe, we need to develop their ability to exercise political power ("power" in the sense of participation in governance). We can develop that ability by providing knowledge about the political system and using mechanisms that allow for participation from the bottom up.
It has never been so important as it is now to put citizens and European citizenship at the heart of the EU agenda. And indeed, as the title of this conference says, we must make the most of the European Year of Citizens.
Citizenship has been central to the development of the EU project; it is the very essence of our democracy; it is linked to the idea that the European Union works when we enjoy certain rights and when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations.
We were all happy when the European Commission designated 2013 as the European Year of Citizens. Citizens play a central role in Europe’s future and integration. What could be more appropriate and timely to dedicate a European Year to them?
Presentation on the occasion of the EESC hearing on Europe for Citizens 2014-2020
Presentation on the occasion of the EESC hearing on the Europe for Citizens Programme for 2014-2020 (Brussels, 3 May 2012)
"From April 2012, European citizens will enjoy a new right, which will give them a stronger voice in EU affairs when the European Citizens’ Initiative enters into force. From that moment on, they will be able to express their demands in a new, unprecedented way. By collecting one million signatures across Europe, they can call upon the European Commission to propose or change European legislation. The European Economic and Social Committee has been an advocate of citizens’ rights to participate since the beginning of the European project.
The Commission has proposed to designate 2013 as the European Year of Citizens. The year will mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Union citizenship under the Maastricht Treaty and will precede and prepare the European Parliament's elections in 2014.
The main objective of the Commission's proposal is to inform Union citizens about their rights as such. Particular importance is given to the right to move and reside freely, which is essential to enable individuals, businesses and society to benefit from the opportunities of the single market.