The European Commission has unveiled a new push to reinforce EU citizens’ rights with a series of actions to tackle obstacles that citizens still face in their everyday life.
The 2013 EU Citizenship Report sets out 12 concrete ways to help Europeans make better use of their EU rights, from looking for a job in another EU country to ensuring stronger participation in the democratic life of the Union.
The EU Citizenship Report 2013 announces 12 new actions in six areas to strengthen citizens’ rights:
Removing obstacles for workers, students and trainees in the EU
- by looking into extending the right of jobseekers to receive unemployment benefits from their home country while they are looking for a job in another EU member state beyond the current mandatory three months to increase the mobility of workers; and
- by setting out a quality framework for traineeships that specifies the rights and obligations of the parties making sure that traineeships are not used as a form of ‘unpaid employment’
Cutting red tape in the Member States
- by facilitating the acceptance of identity and residence documents when citizens want to travel or have to prove their identity in another EU country, including through optional uniform European documents that citizens could use in all EU countries; and
- by making it easier to recognise roadworthiness certificates for cars cross-border in the EU
Protecting the more vulnerable in the EU
- by developing an EU disability card to be mutually recognised across the EU making sure that the 80 million disabled people can also take advantage of the benefits that come with national cards (for example access to transport, tourism, culture and leisure) when exercising their right to free movement; and
- by proposing a set of laws to further strengthen citizens’ procedural rights, especially those of children and vulnerable citizens, when they are suspected or accused of a crime
Eliminating barriers to shopping in the EU
- by improving rules to settle cross-border disputes over small amounts when buying products online or in another EU country; the European Small Claims procedure can help consumers get their money back swiftly; and
by working on an online tool that makes the purchase of digital products more transparent and that allows citizens to compare deals cross-border
Promoting the availability of targeted and accessible information about the EU
by making e-training tools available to local administrations and providing citizen-friendly information about who to turn to to solve their problems.
Strengthening citizens’ participation in the democratic process
by working on ways to enable EU citizens to keep their right to vote in national elections in their country of origin. The practice in some Member States of depriving their citizens of their right to vote once they move to another EU country effectively is tantamount to punishing citizens for having exercised their right to free movement.
The EU Citizenship report 2013 focuses again on individual rights. All topics mentioned above are important for part or all citizens of Europe, but European Citizenship is more than individual rights.