The European Year of Citizens in 2013 will focus on the practical rights and advantages people gain from EU citizenship. Among many examples are easier travel, the ability to live, work or study abroad, access to healthcare systems in other countries and consumer protection.
The year will be a chance for people to take part in events and seminars about how to fully exercise these rights – looking at obstacles encountered and possible solutions. There will also be discussions around the continent on EU policies more generally and the future of the European Union.
A European Year – every year since 1983
The very first European Year, in 1983, was dedicated to small business (“SMEs”) and craft industry. Every year since, the EU has chosen a specific subject to encourage debate and dialogue within and between European countries.
Why European Years?
The aim is to raise awareness of certain topics, encourage debate and change attitudes. During many European years, extra funding is provided for local, national and cross-border projects that address the Year’s special topic.
The European Year can also send a strong commitment and political signal from the EU institutions and member governments that the subject will be taken into consideration in future policy-making. In some cases, the European Commission may propose new legislation on the theme.
How is the theme of a European Year chosen?
It is proposed by the Commission and adopted by the European Parliament and EU member governments.
The topics are chosen several years in advance. They are always of general interest and major concern to both the EU institutions and member countries. Topics can be submitted to the Commission by member governments, civil society, businesses, or any other stakeholders.
2013 is the European Year of Citizens and it is dedicated to the rights that come with EU citizenship. Over this year, dialogue is encouraged between all levels of government, civil society and business at events and conferences around Europe to discuss those EU rights and build a vision of how the EU should be in 2020.