BRUSSELS---- The European Commission will open the European Year of Citizens 2013 on January 10th, at an event to take place at the Rotunda of Dublin City Hall, in the presence of Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Vice-President Viviane Reding Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton.
This European Year comes at a critical juncture in European integration as 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of EU Citizenship, which was introduced by the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, and it is also one year before the European Parliament elections.
Over 200 citizens from Dublin will participate in an open debate with Europe`s leaders on the future of the European Union. The Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore and Irish MEPs from the region will also participate in the debate.
"We need the direct involvement of citizens in building a stronger and more political Union. That is why 2013 is the European Year of Citizens – a year dedicated to you and your rights as Europeans," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU`s Justice Commissioner.
Union citizenship, she noted, is more than a concept and that the European Commission wants to help people understand how they can directly benefit from their rights and listen to their views about where Europe is headed.
“European citizens must be able to voice their concerns and prepare the ground for future European elections. It`s time we all took ownership of our common future”, she pointed out.
To mark the European Year of Citizens 2013, a range of events, conferences and seminars will be organised across the EU at Union, national, regional or local level.
The Commission will also strengthen the visibility of the multilingual Europe Direct and Your Europe web portals as key elements of a `one-stop-shop` information system on Union citizens` rights, as well as the role and visibility of problem solving tools, such as SOLVIT, to allow Union citizens to better make use of and defend their rights.
Throughout the year 2013, Vice-President Reding and other EU Commissioners will join forces with national and local politicians to hold debates with citizens all across the EU.