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Richard North, 03/01/2013  


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The European Commission has designated 2013 the European Year of Citizens "to raise awareness about EU citizens' rights". The budget for this extravaganza is €1 million, with an allocation of €750,000 for "preparatory actions" having been made during 2012.

The year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the European Union Citizenship under the Maastricht Treaty and, on 10 January 2013, commission president José Manuel Barroso and vice-president Viviane Reding will join forces with Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton to open the European Year of Citizens 2013 in the Rotunda of Dublin City Hall.

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) 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," says Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner in a press release dated 23 November 2012.

"Union citizenship is more than a concept. It is a practical reality that brings tangible benefits to citizens. 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".

So there you are, you good little Europeans you. You can now rush off and join in with the "EU-wide alliance of civil society organisations" which has set itself up expressly to collaborate with the Commission on the European Year. This "European Year of Citizens Alliance" is a key strategic partner representing "civil society".

I am sure that we will be only too keen to subscribe to its manifesto, putting European citizenship at the heart of the EU political agenda. You will be pleased to know that:
Relying on the experience and the expertise of its members who continuously act for citizenship to become a permanent and transversal dimension of European public policies decision-making, implementation and assessment, the EYC2013 Alliance will promote activities aiming to have an impact on the building of a citizen-friendly European Union which would no longer be reduced to merely economic preoccupations and would facilitate and support various expressions and mobilisation of active citizenship. We shall accompany an EU citizenship building process which, beyond an individual rights-based approach, tackles the Europeans' sense of belonging to a common European future.
Doubtless, they believe this drivel, or they would not have written it. But you can see why the "project" is going nowhere. Anyone who writes this sort of guff does not belong on this planet. But then you see the range of organisations supporting the "initiative" …
European Civic Forum, European Movement International, the Social Platform, European Disability Forum, European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong Learning – EUCIS-LLL, Culture Action Europe, European Youth Forum, European Foundation Center, European Public Health Alliance – EPHA, European Association for the Defense of Human Rights – AEDH, European Women’s Lobby, Eurochild, Confederation of Family Organisations in the EU – COFACE, CONCORD, ESN – Erasmus Students Network, Association Internationale de la Mutualité – AIM, AGE Platform, European Federation of Older People – EURAG, SOLIDAR, European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities – EASPD, European Council of Associations of General Interest – CEDAG, European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless – FEANTSA, Volonteurope, European Volunteer Center – CEV, Conservation Volunteers Alliance – CVA, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (Europe Region), Association of local democracy agencies - ALDA, Central and Eastern European Citizens Network - CEE CN, Combined European Bureau for Social Development - CEBSD, European Community Organising Network - ECON, EUCLID Network, European Network for Education and Training e.V. - EUNET, Confederation of European Senior Expert Services - CESES, JEF - Europe, Platform for Intercultural Europe, European Alternatives, European Network of National Civil Society Associations - ENNA, ATD Quart Monde, ISCA - International Sports and Culture Associations, ENGSO – European Non-governmental Sports Organisation, AEGEE-Europe – European Students Forum Association, European Anti Poverty Network – EAPN, Mental Health Europe, Europa Nostra, Balkan Civil Society Development Network – BCSDN, Civilscape, European Forum of Muslim Women – EFOMW, European Citizen Action Service – ECAS.
… and you can see why we have problems.

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