The European Commission has kicked off the 2013 European Year of Citizens. With it, the EU hopes to increase awareness of European rights and responsibilities among citizens given that the Schengen area of free movement is being jostled by an ongoing reform, that there is still widespread ignorance concerning the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and that Eurosceptic parties are gaining increasing popularity. 'Union citizenship is more than a concept. It is a practical reality that brings tangible benefits to citizens," said Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. On 10 January, Reding, along with Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and representatives of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU will officially open the European Year of Citizens 2013 in Dublin. During the year, a range of events, conferences and seminars will be organised across the EU. In line with Decision 1093/2012/EU, 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.


In the current climate of economic and social crisis and generalised austerity, the Commission hopes, in particular, to prevent record abstention rates in the June 2014 European elections. The aim of this European year is for the EU executive to "listen" to citizens' opinions on topics in which the EU can take actions. Despite...

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