European citizenship provides interesting legal rights for all European people (for the moment the criteria is to have the nationality of a country in the European Union). To the exception of the right to move and work freely -which was unimaginable only a decade ago- most of these rights are not crucial: right to vote & stand as a candidate in another EU country, write and receive answer in any EU language, etc. The European Citizen Initiative granting the right to propose a law to 1 million citizens and the right to good governance (both rights were included in the rejected Constitutional Treaty) are very innovative rights which decision-makers are apparently considering to add-on. However, nothing seems to be moving in this field.
When looking at national citizenship and the rights it entails, we quickly understand that it is indeed a very politically sensitive topic involving access to education, to social security, to unemployment benefits, environmental and consumer protection, etc. Those are highly controversial issues for national governments; EU citizenship pays the price for the lack of will of our own governments to empower our rights at the European level.
The link with the principle of non-discrimination is extremely important since it leads to better definition and enforcement of equal treatment laws. The European Court of Justice is constantly passing judgments that clarify and reinforce our rights within the European Union. Our rights are on the move!
However, the concept of European citizenship is yet not fully developed. One could say that we do not even possess a common definition of the term. Ask 1000 people, you will get 1000 different answers. Let’s debate this already!! Let’s move our rights further!
The problem is that there is no one in the EU institutions (EU Parliament, EU Commission, EU Council) dealing with EU citizenship. No one to talk to despite the fact that there is increasing public interest and political debate. Nothing moves because there is not one single place where we can all debate together and address all the issues at stake, such as the link between EU citizenship and religion or minorities. We need to be able to put forward our ideas and hear the ones of others.
A petition is now pushing for the European Parliament to take initiative by creating a common forum for debate and hearings with civil society, academics, journalists and politicians. It also asks the European Parliament to put concrete propositions forward. Let’s pass this one around www.ecas-petition.org, it is important we get the opportunity to get heard!
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