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Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

Proposing 2013 as the "European Year of Citizens"


2013 will mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Union citizenship under the Maastricht Treaty that entered into force on 1 November 1993. The European Commission therefore proposed to designate 2013 as the "European Year of Citizens". Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner responsible for Justice and Citizenship, commented on this occasion: "The European Year of Citizens will be a good opportunity to remind people what rights they have thanks to the European Union and what the European Union can do for every one of us."

The Year aims to help European citizens exercise their right to move and reside freely within the EU. Ensuring citizens can easily access information about these rights is key to this, as a survey from 2010 showed that too many people do not feel adequately informed: only 43% know the meaning of the term 'citizen of the European Union' and almost half of European citizens (48%) indicated that they are ‘not well informed’ about their rights.

The challenges for the "Year of Citizens" will be to:

  • raise citizens' awareness of their right to reside freely within the European Union and of how they can benefit from EU rights and policies;
  • stimulate citizens' active participation in EU policy-making;
  • build debate about the impact and potential of the right to free movement, especially on strengthening cohesion and people's mutual understanding of one another.

A range of events, conferences and seminars will be organised across the EU at Union, national, regional or local level. The Commission plans to further develop the multilingual Europe Direct and Your Europe web portals into a 'one-stop-shop' information system on European citizens' rights. The Commission will also further promote the role and visibility of problem solving tools, such as SOLVIT, which allow European citizens to make better use of and defend their rights.

By designating 2013 as the European Year of Citizens, the European Commission is delivering on the promise made in the EU Citizenship Report and answering the European Parliament's call for such a year.