Target group: Decision-makers, Civil Society Professionals, Academics, Citizens
Subject: Freedom of Movement and related rights, European Citizenship
Type: Interactive, Hybrid
The conference “State of the Union Citizens’ Rights” is the flagship annual event of the ECAS’s EU Rights focus area since 2018. It is a forum to discuss current developments in the field of EU citizenship, identifying obstacles EU citizens face, and deliberating on the future. During this knowledge-building exercise, decision-makers, academics, legal experts and civil society representatives engage and discuss.
Each year, the focus of the conference is different, depending on the latest political developments.
With her keynote speech, the Member of European Parliament (MEP) Yana Toom reflected on the EU rights landscape shaping EU citizenship in its unique form. Initially, she focused on the EU citizens’ right to freedom of movement and acknowledged that the COVID-19 restrictions posed a vast obstacle. She then noted that this crisis highlighted the central role of freedom of movement in EU citizens’ lives. Keeping her eyes on the future, she set the goal to ensure that freedom of movement is not endangered again in any future crises. On top of the pandemic-related challenges, she noted that old issues outlined in the EU citizenship report 2020, such as challenges to residence registration and taxation processes in certain Member States, persist. She emphasised that agreeing on the optimum process to alleviate these barriers and make life easier for mobile EU citizens is at the centre of the negotiations between the Member States. The MEP expanded her concerns relating to the electoral rights of mobile EU citizens. Closing on a positive note, she outlined the efforts at the EU level to ensure a more united Europe. She also highlighted the higher sense of European identity that is present in young generations as an optimistic development.
Link to the Conference recording and report.
The tone of the conference was set with an opening message by Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders. He emphasised 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.
Link to the Conference report.