6 July 2017
Empowering citizens is a key to strengthening our common European project

Empowering citizens is a key to strengthening our common European project

CIVEX 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).

"In these uncertain times that the EU is currently experiencing, it is vital that we strengthen the citizens' sense of belonging in the project of integration. If we want to inject new life in the process, we must seek to strengthen the citizens' political, social, economic and cultural rights", the rapporteur told CIVEX members. 

In this frame of mind, the CIVEX Commission rejected amendments proposed by ECR coordinator John Paul Findlow which sought to delete a reference to the need for stronger European social policies and a European Pillar for Social Rights. 

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 by making the EU citizenship a reality in every citizen's daily life. 

More particularly, he calls for facilitating the participation of citizens in democratic processes, in particular in local elections, through more targeted information, awareness-raising campaigns and the organisation of citizens' dialogues. Likewise, he suggests to further develop existing Europe-wide participative democracy tools, such as the European Citizens' Initiative​ (ECI).

Regarding EU citizens living in another Member State, he emphasises on the overall importance of removing barriers, such as lengthy and complex administrative procedures and discriminatory rules, especially in the field of social rights. Another key request is that the participation in regional elections should be opened to European citizens when this is possible under national constitutions.

Last but not least, regarding the ongoing Brexit negotiations, 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. 

Adoption of the opinion is foreseen by the CoR plenary of 10-11 October.