Thursday, 9 May 2013

Europe Day 2013 - European Year of Citizens

Happy Europe Day! Although clearly the numbers of people happy with Europe have dropped sharply recently, so it's not likely that you will see many events celebrating it.

It's Europe Day in the European Year of Citizens, so it's probably appropriate to look at some of the issues surrounding EU Citizenship right now.

The European Citizens' Initiative, the big democratic innovation of the Lisbon Treaty, has come under attack recently for being too bureaucratic and inaccessible, though some ECIs have gained a lot of support - like Right2Water - or are using the ECI to push European Citizenship further with expanded political rights, such as Let Me Vote!

Speaking of citizenship and politics, after a successful campaign within the Party of European Socialists for primaries to select their candidate for Commission President for the 2014 elections, the PES has started the election run with a pretty tepid use of the primaries. Hopefully this initiative won't fade away - it could, after all, be used as an opportunity to bring party members into the debate on EU issues, and could be a good way of boosting party activity come election time.

On the legal front, EU Citizenship hasn't evolved much since the Zambrano case and the retreat of the ECJ afterwards in the McCarthy case and in subsequent other cases. I recommend the article over at European Law Blog on the European Court of Justice's approach to EU Citizenship. It can be a confusing area, with citizenship rights largely bound up in the exercise (and ability to exercise) free movement rights. A full definition of EU citizenship will likely only be decided by long years of court battles, it seems.

With all the social and economic problems confronting us today, and the difficulties in engaging with the EU and promoting change, it's hard to be in a celebratory mood from a citizen's perspective. However, with the ECI and the primaries, it's clear that there is a section of civil society out there that is trying to work for more participation and a more responsive EU. So here's to the people plugging away to make things better: that's where you see citizenship in action.


  1. A Europa não pode voltar aos venhos tempos e o caminho em frente é pensamos que esta é uma boa altura de mundar a Europa com uma alianças inteligentes e eficientes como uma europa de competividade e de sustentabilidade e com qualidade de vida

  2. The EU and the euro is in a state of disintegration, so I am not too sure Europeans have much to celebrate. Its well know of the democratic deficit that runs right through many of the institutions of the EU, three unelected presidents? The quicker the UK cuts loose from the EU red tape and regulation addiction the better.