Monday, February 25, 2013
*Talking point: European Year of Citizens*
2013 has been declared 'European Year of Citizens'.
The aim is to raise awareness of what being an EU citizen means, the rights it confers -- including free movement and democratic engagement -- and how to make use of those rights. Why? We asked the MEP who wrote the report and another who's less convinced. This gives new momentum 20 months before the European elections to increase awareness of the rights, as we have already said, and to convince people that they should participate in what is happening in their daily lives, in the decisions taken by the European institutions and to vote in the next European elections. If people become more aware of their rights to travel between countries, to take up work and to avail of public services in different countries, then that's a positive. But I think a lot of people would just look at the name and think, 'Well, this is an EU that's destroying people's civil rights in Europe, that is driving an austerity agenda that is pushing people into poverty.' Is an economic crisis the right time to be doing this? People are aware that the problems are there to stay for some time, so they need concrete solutions to their daily problems. They want policies in order to tackle the severe problems and to face the obstacles when people move from one place to another, especially when they live in a third country. They need protection and they need to be aware of how to implement the rights given to them by the Union. It's always a good time to tell people about their rights. If it's about going from one country to another it's always a good time to do that. But I think, certainly, that the idea of us being citizens in a democratic, functioning Europe will just ring very hollow for a lot of people, because it's not people's day-to-day experience.
Bien à vous,