Every year since 1983 the Parliament and the Council jointly designate a theme for a European Year based on a proposal made by the Commission. This year’s theme is ‘citizens’. The European Year of Citizens 2013 (EY2013) is dedicated to the equal rights that EU citizenship entails, including improving the awareness of these rights among EU citizens. Viviane Reding, as Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights, and Citizenship, actively promotes this year.
European Citizenship, first established with the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993, celebrates its 20thanniversary this year. But what does ‘European citizenship’ mean? First and foremost it gives European citizens certain rights and duties within European Union Member States. These rights are spelled out in the Treaty on the European Union (TEU), the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. European Citizenship does not mean that one loses his or her nationality; these citizenship rights are additional to those already granted at national level. For example, European Citizens have the right to move freely between Member States, vote and be elected in their Member State country of residence, and address the institutions in one of the Treaty languages and obtain a reply in the same language. Although the Treaties do not mention any sign languages so far, in practice, the EU is already working towards making the EU institutions more accessible, including providing sign language interpretation at its events.
The year comes as a precursor of the European Parliament elections in 2014, the only directly elected organ of the European Union. The EU aims to encourage citizens to vote in its elections and to make those elections more accessible. EUD encourages all Deaf citizens to become involved in national as well as European elections and supports Deaf sign language users to follow in the footsteps of MEP Ádám Kósa.
The 2010 Citizenship Report concluded that most citizens were not fully aware of their rights as citizens and therefore were not able to benefit fully from the potential the EU citizenship bears. At the same time the 2010 Report was one of the reasons the European Commission decided to set out the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020. Therefore, EUD encouraged the Deaf Community in July last year to take part in the consultation in preparation for the Citizenship Report 2013, spelling out the difficulties and barriers that Deaf citizens face when for example moving to another country or travelling to another EU Member State. The results will be published in the 2013 Citizenship Report in the course of this year.
Just as the EY2013 aims at bringing the EU closer to its citizens, EUD also wants to get closer to the Deaf Community and therefore open its membership to individuals. Thus far only NADs (National Associations of the Deaf) were able to become members of EUD but from now on YOU can be a part of EUD and profit from the following benefits:
- 20% discount on all EUD publications, including the 2012 EUD book on SL legislation
- Exclusive access to the members’ section
- Access to the General Assembly (prior registering and no vote right)
- 20% discount on EUD seminars and workshops
- Exclusive previews of EUD ‘Executive Director Corner’
Individual Membership fee (per year): EUR 25
You can download the text in the PDF version here.
Official EY2013 site:
Official document setting up the EY2013 by Parliament & Council:
EU Citizenship Report 2010:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2010:0603:FIN:EN:PDF EU Disability Strategy 2010-2020:
Consolidated Treaties (TEU, TFEU, Charter of Fundamental Rights):
 Article 8(1): Citizenship of the Union is hereby established.
 Article 20(1) TFEU (ex Article 17 TEC).