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Past actions

The importance of making EU citizenship more effective in practice has been stressed on several occasions. In his report ‘The citizen and the application of Community law’ of 8 June 2008, Alain Lamassoure, Member of the European Parliament, illustrated vividly the barriers facing Europeans when they seek to exercise their rights. The report described various administrative hurdles, and concluded that European policies should be built around the rights and needs of EU citizens and deliver concrete results.

The European Union in the past has attempted to introduce a European identity with an anthem and a flag. During the Italian presidency of the European Union in 1995-provision was made to boost European identity in “areas of great symbolic value and therefore capable of contributing towards an enhancement of shared community values.” Then all these attempts were top down and raised questions about EU’s democratic legitimacy, efficiency and its transparency. The concept of nation state gained renewed strength, since people did not want to accept an identity imposed on them by an EU they thought of as bureaucratic, wasteful and far removed from the citizen.

In addition, the European Parliament’s report on ‘Problems and prospects concerning European citizenship’ of 20 March 2009 detailed persistent obstacles to the cross-border enjoyment of rights. It called on the Commission to list these obstacles and to make concrete proposals for addressing them, following a consultation of civil society.

Finally, the Stockholm Programme, the EU’s work programme in the field of Freedom, Security and Justice for the period 2010-2014, puts the citizen at the heart of European policies in this field.

The creation of the Commission's new ‘Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship’ portfolio, which has responsibilities covering civil justice and consumer legislation as well as fundamental rights and non-discrimination policies, underlines the political importance attached to these issues. The focus on citizenship issues extends to the entire Commission because removing obstacles to citizens' daily lives requires close cooperation within the Commission and with the other institutions and stakeholders, including national parliaments.

Furthermore, in 2007 European Union launched the Europe for Citizens program, which was adopted by the European parliament and the Council. Its aim is to put into place the legal framework to support a wide range of activities and organisations promoting „active European citizenship' and therefore the involvement of citizens and Civil Society Organizations (hereafter CSOs) in the process of European integration.

Lastly, the Commission presented 2013 as the European of citizens to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the EU citizenship.

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