Contribute to the promotion of EU citizenship and citizen's rights, in particular by focusing on the right enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty for EU citizens to vote and stand as candidates in municipal elections and in elections to the European Parliament;
Reiterate the importance of participation of all EU citizens in democratic life for the construction of the European Union;
Propose actions to be taken at different levels of governance to improve the exercise of rights already enshrined in the Treaties;
Invite all actors to look into appropriate measures aimed at expanding the opportunities for EU citizens to take part in elections in their Member State of residence.
This is one of the opinions elaborated in the course of 2013 and seen in the context of the CoR contribution to the 2013 as the European Year of Citizens. Along with the other opinions elaborated as part of the same work-stream (see immediately above) this opinion succeeded to raise awareness about the role of local and regional authorities in safeguarding and strengthening the rights of EU citizens.
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- emphasises how important it is for EU citizens to participate in the democratic life of the European Union, not least in their country of residence. European citizenship, by involving citizens in the process of European integration and in the political process of their country of residence, helps to build European democracy;
- points out that a sense of belonging plays a key role in making the European Union comprehensible for citizens; it is therefore vital to strengthen their allegiance to Europe and their awareness of citizenship. Bringing citizens closer to the European Union using the available tools and measures is an ongoing task;
- emphasises that local and regional authorities play a key role in constantly promoting and raising awareness of EU citizenship and the rights associated with it. These bodies are closest to European Union citizens, and can make the biggest contribution to strengthening participatory democracy and raising awareness of the benefits offered by European integration;
- with regard to the 2014 European elections, emphasises the need to make EU citizens aware of their rights, and of their electoral rights in their countries of residence, and to facilitate the exercise of those rights;
- keeping the subsidiarity principle in mind, the Committee of the Regions encourages Member States to ensure that EU citizens can exercise their electoral rights by enabling them to vote not only in local elections but also in regional ones;
- with due respect to the principle of subsidiarity, suggests that Member States could explore measures which would make it possible to synchronise local and regional elections with European elections; believes that this could help to raise awareness of the impact of European, regional and local elections on the everyday lives of EU citizens.