Coinciding with the announcement of UK Consumer Rights Bill (transposition of the EU Consumer Rights Directive) in the Queen's speech today, these further Commission initiatives look to complement wider EU efforts to protect people as citizens and consumers, for example by building a strong framework for police and judicial cooperation to tackle cross-border crime and by extensive reforms to financial services so taxpayers never again have to pay the bill for massive bank bail-outs.
The Commission is also announcing today proposals to reinforce the consumer rights of high-street bank customers.
It is twenty years since European Citizenship came into being with the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty and in that time nationals of EU member states have enjoyed unprecedented rights in terms of travel, working, living and doing business in fellow member states. UK citizens have been at the forefront of that.
These rights are now so commonly used that they are considered the norm. This is a sign of their success but in recent EU-wide surveys many thousands of EU citizens called for further improvement and reinforcement.
These calls have been backed in an on-going series of public meetings (Citizens' Dialogues) held with thousands of Europeans by Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding and other Commissioners and national politicians.
The Commission is now answering those calls for more and better rights, as part of the European Year of Citizens 2013.
The 2013 EU Citizenship Report sets out new ways to help Europeans make better use of their EU rights, from looking for a job in another EU country to providing opportunities for stronger participation in the democratic life of the Union.
Key proposals include making it easier for people to work and do training in another EU country; reducing paperwork for EU citizens living and travelling in the EU; and eliminating barriers to cross-border shopping.
Today's announcement comes as the Commission adopts the latest report on the application of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights (see IP/13/411 and MEMO/13/411), including citizens’ rights such as the right to personal data protection. It is also accompanied by a report looking at progress made towards more effective EU citizenship, a track-record of enforcing EU citizens' rights, such as free movement, political rights or consular protection, and fighting discrimination on the grounds of nationality.
“EU citizenship is the crown jewel of European integration. It is to Political Union what the euro is to our Economic and Monetary Union. Today's Citizenship Report places EU citizens centre stage," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. “Ever since it was first included in the Treaties in 1993, EU citizenship has been evolving - but it is not yet mature: people still face obstacles exercising their rights in everyday life. We receive over 1 million enquiries every year from citizens on issues that relate to their rights. That is why today we are taking action to reinforce citizens’ rights in everyday situations, like looking for a job, shopping online or taking part in European decision-making.”