EU: European commissioner Viviane Reding has introduced new rules on the acceptance and standardisation of official papers for cross-border residents, aiming to make EU citizenship more part of “everyday life”.
Brussels has put forward simplifications on the use of official documents across EU borders, such as identity cards and road safety certificates, and safeguards to expat voting rights, as part of the “EU Citizenship Report 2013” released Thursday morning.
More than 13.6 million EU citizens currently live in another member state, and about 210 million travel to another EU country for business or pleasure each year, according to the European Commission.
“EU citizenship is the crown jewel of European integration”, Viviane Reding--European justice, fundamental rights and citizenship commissioner--said in a statement. “People still face obstacles exercising their rights in everyday life. We receive over one million enquiries every year from citizens on issues that relate to their rights. That is why today we are taking action to reinforce citizens’ rights in everyday situations, like looking for a job, shopping online or taking part in European decision-making.”
Among Reding’s proposed reforms are “actions” aimed at “facilitating the acceptance of identity and residence documents” in other EU countries; “making it easier to recognise roadworthiness certificates for cars cross-border in the EU”; and for “developing an EU disability card to be mutually recognised across the EU” to ensure consistent treatment of the union’s 80 million disabled residents.
“Cutting red tape”
The commission put forward new rules as well to help settle cross-border small claims disputes, such as when consumers buy products online or directly from a retailer in another EU country, and rules to “enable EU citizens to keep their right to vote in national elections in their country of origin. The practice in some member states of depriving their citizens of their right to vote once they move to another EU country effectively is tantamount to punishing citizens for having exercised their right to free movement.”
The programme will be implemented “during 2013 and 2014”, a spokeswoman for Reding has told Delano. However, some of the measures will be subject to further review by the European Parliament and European Council of government ministers.
A commission memo explained the moves, along with its “European Year for Citizens” public engagement programme, have been made to strengthen the legitimacy of next year’s EU elections. “Next year’s elections to the European Parliament should be about European issues, and not about problems with national governments.”
The memo claimed that since the last EU Citizenship Report, issued in 2010, it has cut “red tape for 3.5 million people registering a car in another EU country each year, with savings of €1.5 billion”, banned “extra credit card charges and pre-ticked boxes for online shoppers”, as well as clarified “property rights for Europe’s 16 million international couples”.