Talks over European rights held in Vilnius

  • 2013-12-12
  • From wire reports, VILNIUS

The closing conference of the European Year of Citizens will take place in Vilnius on Dec. 12-13.

Members of NGOs and European institution will discuss the rights and duties of EU citizens, the foreign ministry reports.

"During the Presidency, Lithuania has been striving to create a reliable, growing, and open Europe in which interests of residents are taken into consideration, new jobs are created, and finances are managed responsibly. But the Year of Citizens doesn't end with the Conference - on the contrary, I hope that it will encourage us to continue being active citizens of Lithuania and Europe," said Linas Linkevicius, Lithuanian Foreign Minister.

Opening addresses were given by Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights, and Citizenship, Emily O'Reilly, an ombudsman, Loreta Grauziniene, Speaker of the Seimas, Algirdas Butkevicius, Prime Minister, and Prof. Vytautas Landsbergis, the first Leader of Lithuania after the Restoration of Independence.

The Conference How to Make Every Year a Year for Citizens!, which is being organized by the European Year of Citizens Alliance, the EC, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, will have six topical discussions.

Representatives of the non-governmental sector and universities and members of the Commission and Parliament will discuss the role of NGOs in Europe, the cherishing of EU citizens' rights, and new opportunities for citizens to influence policy makers. The coming Parliamentary elections and possible means to encourage Europeans to participate actively in them will be covered as well. Several bloggers from EU countries who actively express their opinion on issues relevant to Europeans will also participate.

During the Conference, Reding will be given recommendations on improving European citizens' rights. These proposals were prepared by the European Year of Citizens Alliance, which unites more than 60 NGOs in the EU.
On Lithuania's initiative, several representatives of the EU Eastern Partnership countries' (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, and Azerbaijan) NGO sector were invited to participate as guests. This is to allow people from these countries to see the actual situation of citizens in the EU and their discussions, and evaluate the benefits of joining the EU.