Comment on the 2017 EU Citizenship Report
The 2017 EU Citizenship Report ‘Strengthening Citizens’ Rights in a Union of Democratic Change’, presented this year, reflects on the achievements of the Juncker Commission in the area of EU citizenship and proposes several actions to promote and strengthen it.
Prominently featured in the 2017 report are awareness of EU citizenship rights and participation in democratic life. With the 2019 elections already in mind, the focus on enhancing citizens’ participation is absolutely necessary. The proposals on a campaign on EU citizenship rights, encouraging public debates and ensuring that people can exercise their voting rights are fully supported by the European Movement International. However, the proposals are neither new, with many already featured in the 2010 and 2013 reports, nor innovative enough to make a real change.
“The element of democratic participation in EU citizens’ rights is very limited”
Strictly speaking, the element of democratic participation in EU citizens’ rights is very limited – voting & standing in European and municipal elections, access to information, the right to petition and the European Citizens’ Initiative. But in light of its broader ambition for a more vibrant democratic life in the EU, the European Commission could do much more to stimulate citizens’ participation through real venues for citizen’s involvement and participation.
Therefore it would be good to spice up the current proposals and add new ideas. This should include meaningful representation, more transparency and venues of direct participation. That could mean making use of digital tools for participation and the creation of a European public sphere and the full implementation of article 11 on open, transparent and regular dialogue, reviving old and experimenting with new ways of citizens’ engagement.
The EU Citizenship report is a good starting point for debate and action to get citizens more involved with EU politics and democratic life. But we should take the opportunity to think beyond the confines of the report and both suggest to the Commission and implement ourselves actions that will get citizens engaged.