On 21-22 January 2021, the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) held the third edition of its “State of the Union Citizens’ Rights” event, an annual conference aimed at identifying challenges faced by EU citizens to their right to free movement and the solutions to overcoming them.
The conference was organised in the framework of the IMPEU project, under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Commission, and under the Mobility and Political Rights Enhancement for EU Citizens (MORE for EU Citizens) project supported by the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM). This time, due to the COVID-19-related restrictions, the conference was organised online on the Webex platform and was live -streamed on Facebook. The event gathered 82 participants, while an additional 489 people viewed the live recordings on Facebook.
Day one of the conference: Identifying the Challenges
Keynote speech and opening remarks
The tone of the conference was set with an opening message by Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders. He emphasized that EU citizenship is one of the Union’s greatest achievements, putting the individual at the centre of the European project and transforming the lives of EU citizens. Commissioner Reynders presented the 2020 EU Citizenship Report and outlined the actions the European Commission (EC) will take in the near future to make sure that EU citizens can exercise their rights. Those include, among the others, the revision of 2009 guidelines on Directive 2004/38/EC and an update of the directives on voting rights of mobile EU citizens in municipal and European elections.
“The EU citizenship report delivers tangible steps for the effective exercise of EU rights. It means empowering citizens…and simplifying peoples’ daily lives by cutting the red tape and removing barriers to protect their rights!”. – Commissioner Reynders
The Commissioner also brought attention to the measures introduced by the Member States to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and explained they should not be taken at the expense of fundamental rights, including freedom of speech and political debates for elections. He stressed that the EC is strongly committed to ensuring a return to unrestricted movement as soon as the pandemic has been overcome.
Panel discussion: State of play in the EU citizenship field
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