CoR members adopted today by overwhelming majority the draft opinion on the "EU Citizenship Report 2017" by Guillermo Martínez Suárez, Minister of the Presidency of the Principality of Asturias (PES, Spain).
"If we want to reinforce the citizens' sense of belonging to the European project, we must start by simplifying their daily life, hence by strengthening their rights and by encouraging young people in particular to play a more active role", the rapporteur told CoR members.
In his draft opinion, he makes a strong case for a better involvement of the more than 100 000 local and regional authorities in the European Union and for ensuring equal rights for citizens, including the more disadvantaged groups.
More particularly, he calls for some decisive action at all levels to facilitate the participation of citizens in the democratic processes (in particular in local elections) through more targeted information, awareness-raising campaigns and the organisation of citizens' dialogues, as well as by removing obstacles to the participation of those suffering from a handicap. He also suggests extending the voting rights to allow EU citizens who do not live in their country of nationality to be able to participate in regional elections.
The rapporteur calls as well to further develop existing Europe-wide participative democracy tools, in particular the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI).
Regarding EU citizens living in another Member State and particularly in cross-border regions, the opinion emphasises the crucial importance of removing barriers, such as lengthy and complex administrative procedures and discriminatory rules, especially in the fields of social rights, taxation and employment legislation.
Last but not least, the rapporteur underlines the need to guarantee the rights of European citizens and their families residing in the United Kingdom, as well as those of UK citizens residing in EU Member States in the context of the ongoing discussions on Brexit.