The European Commission has designated 2013 as the European Year of Citizens. The European Economic and Social Committee stresses that citizens play a central role in terms of Europe's future and integration, and it supports many of the ideas set out in the proposal.
However, the EESC regrets that the current Commission proposal contains some gaps. The Commission has not met civil society organisations' request to devote this Year to active citizenship, nor responded to the European Parliament's invitation to place special emphasis on the new rights citizens have acquired through the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.
The main aim of this European Year must be active, participatory citizenship. The Year should encourage informed, active and inclusive citizen participation in the European integration process and in political and social life. The EESC advocates specifying the legal basis for the European Year and naming it the European Year of active and participatory citizenship.
The European Year should focus on the diversity of society's needs and the fight against discrimination and inequalities, giving special attention inter alia to women and people with disabilities.
The administrative bodies of the various institutions should work towards achieving these objectives in the framework of a close dialogue with civil society organisations at every stage and every level (local, national, European) of the decision-making process.
The level of funding allocated to the European Year needs to be re examined. The level of funding should be appropriate, fixed and in proportion to the importance of the goal.
The members of the Liaison Group representing European civil society organisations and networks, together with other partners and with the support of the EESC, have created an alliance which is ready to take on a major role in taking the thematic year forward and framing additional recommendations. The Committee undertakes to establish and carry out a broad participatory, transparent and innovative programme that can show society and the EU institutions the advantages to be gained from involving the broader public.