This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 320294

EU

Options for new Forms of Participation in the EU (Deliverable 8.11)

The promotion of European Citizenship and participation of citizens in EU decision making are key aims of the European Union. However, while considerable attention has been focused on citizenship in the political sphere, less has been said about the meaning of citizenship in the economic, the social, and the financial spheres. Following the literature on the financialization of the everyday, this study focuses on the meaning of citizenship in the financial sphere. We illustrate the image of an ideal European financial citizen, as reflected in (and shaped by) EU regulation. We compare this image in two EU directives, on credit (2008) and on payment accounts (2014), and highlight the influences which shaped it, with a particular focus on new forms of citizen participation. The paper argues the image of the ideal financial citizen reflected in these directives is that of a confident, empowered and active citizen, ‘making markets work’. At the same time, however, this image is complemented by the image of a vulnerable citizen, both shielded from the market and encouraged to participate in it. Compared to political citizenship, financial citizenship appears to be more demanding, requiring high levels of human capital, time and attention to detail. Citizenship in the financial sphere is more inclusive, based on the will to participate in the market, as opposed to the more exclusive nature of political citizenship.

 

Download the full report here: D8.11 FINAL

Democratic parliamentary control in times of crisis (Deliverable 8.5)

This report provides a comparative analysis which tests the analytical framework that was advanced in the bEUcitizen report ‘Constraints imposed by financial markets on political choice in the EU’ (Deliverable 8.1.), which focused on whether and how the meaningful exercise of European political citizenship has been constrained by financial market developments in the context of the euro crisis. The focus is on Austria, Finland, Ireland and Slovakia, which represent four smaller EU member states witnessing strong politicization around the issue of euro area crisis decision-making, notably the provision of financial assistance. The individual case studies demonstrate how each constituency responded to the challenge financial markets posed to decision-makers and how this and the multi-level and decentralized EU economic governance structure impacted on the meaningful exercise of core political rights. The report concludes that the euro crisis posed no threat to the formal validity of core citizenship rights. However, it is shown in relation to each country setting that the limitation of viable political alternatives in electoral competition, the influential role of executive actors and bureaucratic transnational European elites as well as secrecy practices and in some cases the lack of appropriate accountability structures restrict the meaningful exercise of European political citizenship.

 

Download the full report here: D8.5 Democratic parliamentary control in times of crisis

Access to Travel Documents (Deliverable 7.6)

Context of the present report

The objective of Work Package 7 (WP7) is to study, from the perspective of European Union citizenship, specific problems individuals face in exercising their civil rights and liberties in areas which fall within, but also in areas that lie beyond the scope of EU law.

After the prior identification and critical assessment of the nature and scope of the civil rights that citizens are entitled to (task and deliverable 7.1), the modes of transposition and the mechanisms available at EU level and national levels for granting and enforcing civil rights were explored, with a view to identifying institutional, legal, procedural and practical barriers that EU citizens and third-country nationals face in gaining access to justice (task and deliverable 7.2). The ultimate objective of WP7 is to analyse possible limitations and restrictions of different natures that undermine the effective exercise of these rights, on the basis of four in-depth case studies. The case studies to be undertaken within the Work Package relate to i) an exploration of the obstacles that citizens face in trying to enjoy their core citizenship rights (task 7.3), (ii) an exploration of the difficulties faced by EU citizens when trying to enjoy the freedom of expression in the context of media law and policies (task 7.4), (iii) a study of obstacles that (mobile) EU citizens and their families face in dealing with life events (task 7.5), and iv) a study on obstacles that (mobile) EU citizens and their families face in gaining access to travel documents (task 7.6).

It was decided in July 2015 at the bEUcitizen WP meetings in Zagreb that the partner institutions participating in task 7.6 would be UA, UU, CEU, UCPH and UNITN (replacing the earlier designated UNIOVI). Consequently, country reports were to be produced on, respectively, Belgium, the Netherlands, Hungary, Denmark and Italy. In keeping with the approach adopted in the WP thus far, the task leader (UA) drafted the following questionnaire for the purpose of drawing up country reports, a first draft of which was disseminated in June 2015 and the final version in August 2015. The current general report draws together the threads from the individual country reports that were compiled at the end of 2015. While its main aim, in line with the WP objective, is to identify possible barriers, the conclusions also contain some (policy) recommendations and suggestions for lowering or eliminating these.

 

Download the full report: D7.6 Access to travel documents

LIFE EVENTS OF EU CITIZENS (Deliverable 7.5)

Hypothesis: if the legislations of the Member States concerning life events increasingly differ, the EU citizenship and the civil rights are clearly prejudiced.

Purposes: study of the lack of harmonisation of EU Law, the disparities of the national legislations and the effects and impact of them on EU citizenship and the free movement of persons.

Methodology: case study. Each case is initiated with a short background explaining the subject and scope of the topic and the aims of the research. On the other hand, each case includes model cases in order to illustrate the standard practices, which are used as an example in order to explain the solutions of each Law and to include leading cases of each country. Starting from these assumptions, the staff of the different countries submitted a national report, whose paragraphs have been almost literally incorporated in order to enhance the transparency of the research project.

Topics: regarding the lack of harmonisation of EU Law, the disparities of the national legislations and the effects and impact of them on EU citizenship and the free movement of persons, it is convenient to select the following life events: filiation, forenames and surnames and marriage, accompanied by a final and transversal topic relating to the circulation and recognition of documents on civil status.

Scope: the selection of countries in order to inform on these topics is based on the following grounds: countries of Central Europe, such as Belgium and The Netherlands, with a very consolidated experience in EU citizenship as founders of the EEC; countries of the South of Europe, such as Spain, which has a Latin tradition in Family Law; countries of the East of Europe, namely Hungary, as more recent members of the EU; and countries of the North of Europe, such as Denmark, whose position is very interesting as this country is not a member of the EU space of freedom security and justice.

Conclusions: adoption of Private International Law acts by the EU; mitigation of barriers to the free movement by the general principle of the effectiveness of life events (mutual recognition of life events and the principle of unique identity); progressive replacement of the national public policy by a public policy at an EU level; uniform and coordinated identification and persecution of fraud and abuses of the free movement of persons; and harmonisation of civil registries of Member States and the improvement of the cooperation between the Registries.

 

Download the full paper: D7.5 FINAL

Exploring obstacles in exercising core EU citizenship rights (D7.3)

Utrecht University researchers dr. Hanneke van Eijken LL.M and Pauline Phoa, LL.M have prepared a general report which provides a comparative and critical overview of the exercise of so-called core EU citizenship rights in selected Member States (Belgium, Denmark, France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Spain).1 Core EU citizenship rights include access to and loss of nationality (and thereby also the acquisition and loss of the EU citizenship status), the right to reside in a host Member State and in the Member State of nationality, the right to family reunification in a Member State for EU citizens, the right to free movement of EU citizens and the derogations to those rights: expulsion measures and abuse situations.

Rules on nationality fall, in principle within the exclusive scope of competence of Member States. However, on the one hand the access to MS nationality opens up EU citizenship to TCN, or has consequences for migrated EU citizens and their children. On the other hand, the CJEU decision in the case of Rottmann (C-135/08) has made clear that the loss of Member State nationality may bring nationality laws within the scope of EU law, as it may also affect a person’s status as EU citizen. “Under international law, it is for each Member State, having due regard to Community law, to lay down the conditions for the acquisition and loss of nationality” (par. 10). Nowadays it is clear that Member States have to take into account the outer limits of EU law in their competence to regulate nationality laws. The description of the nationality laws in the reported Member States do not always reflect an awareness on the side of the national authorities of the consequences EU citizenship rights for their nationality law.

The EU citizenship right to freedom of movement and the right to reside in another Member State have been established in primary and secondary EU law for a while now, and the implementation of these rights into formal national law seem to be relatively unproblematic in most Member States. However, the answers to the questionnaire show that there is a significant gap between formal law and the actual operationalization of these rights in day-to-day (administrative and judicial) practice. Certain key concepts of EU citizenship rights, such as “sufficient resources”, are subject to differing interpretations in the different Member States, which is undesirable from the perspective of coherence and uniformity of EU law.

Connected to the general EU citizenship right to free movement and residence, are the rights to family reunification, either with family members holding the nationality of another Member States, or with third country national family members. Such family members may have – under certain conditions – a right of free movement and/or residence that is derived from their EU citizen family member’s core EU citizenship rights. In this area of law, the national reports again show that there are disparities between Member States in the judicial interpretation and/or administrative application of concepts such as “dependent family member”, and “genuine relationship”, which may form obstacles to a full use of the opportunities that EU law offers.

The EU Treaties and EU secondary legislation allow for certain derogations or limitations to the core EU citizenship rights of free movement and residence. Member States may take expulsion measures and measures preventing or punishing abuse of EU rights, under certain conditions. The national reports show that there are interpretive difficulties on these topics, and that there is a growing tendency to connect having insufficient resources with unlawful residence.

 

Download the full report here: D7.3 FINAL

A Legal Analysis of the Possibilities and Impediments for Citizens Seeking to Enforce their Social Rights (Deliverable 6.4)

This is a legal study of the arrangements made in eight European countries to secure the enforcement of social rights. It is a study carried out as a response to the overall bEUcitizen research interest in potential barriers to a EU-citizenship. The aim of the study is to investigate the possibilities and impediments for EU-citizens in Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom to enforce their (moral and/or legal) social rights in the fields of education, health care, housing and social assistance. Our focus is on redress mechanisms. It is a study that is comparative in several dimensions (between rights, between citizens, between countries and potentially also between different legal levels). Results indicate that if rights are provided and if redress is offered, we have in the countries studied found no formal hindrances that discriminate against mobile EU-citizens. This said, we also learn that extra-procedural hindrances are a reality and that they create barriers especially problematic to mobile EU-citizens but also to EU-citizens living in their native countries. We conclude that the EU-citizenship project would gain from an exploration of new and innovative means of creating systems and institutions for the provision of basic, fundamental, social protection to secure life, dignity and means of social inclusion to all its citizens, no matter where in Europe they live or work. Europe is a region of welfare states and it is a barrier to the fulfilment of a well-functioning EU-citizenship not to fully recognise this fact.

 

Download the full paper here: Deliverable 6.4 FINAL

Research paper on Case Study (iii): “Barriers that citizens face regarding their intellectual property rights” (Deliverable 5.5)

Creativity and innovation within the European Union are part of a harmonized system of protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs); the latter include legal tools such as industrial property rights and copyright and related rights. The fundamental principles of the internal market (free movement of goods and services and free competition) are based in particular on the harmonization of IPRs at the European level. The protection of intellectual property is subject to a number of international conventions, the supervision of which is largely up to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). To fulfil its obligations in the area, the European Union has created the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), in charge of the registration of European trademarks and European designs. The Commission is currently engaged in the effective implementation of a common EU patent system, less costly and more effective from a legal point of view, able to ensure the competitiveness of European business and enterprises. Finally, the protection of IPRs also implies that they must be safeguarded against piracy, illegal trade and counterfeiting.

The Internet and digital technologies play a pivotal role in this context, since they are transforming the world we live in, with reference to all the aspects of life and all sectors of activity. EU must embrace this digital revolution and open new digital opportunities for citizens and business, by leveraging the strength of the EU single market. The existence of barriers to online activities prevents citizens from taking advantage of a wider range of goods and services. Therefore companies and public administrations cannot reap the benefits of digital tools. The final scope of the Digital Single Market (DSM) aims at breaking down regulatory barriers in order to establish a single market, in place of the partially harmonized 28 national markets now existing.

This research report is aimed at identifying and analysing the possible barriers that the European citizens/digital service users face in enjoying their rights when they aim to access to online cultural contents. In light of this, DSM strategy of the European Commission has been taken as a point of reference for pintpointing the legal and factual barriers, describing what are the reform projects in progress and outlining some possible, future (policy) solutions.

 

Download the full paper here: D5.5 IPR

The capacity of the consumer to process information and make informed choices in the digital internal market (Deliverable 5.4)

If we assume that market integration serves the interest of citizens in their capacity as consumers and optimizes consumer welfare, then the EU rules on free movement and competition could, according to Weatherill, be seen as a form of consumer policy.[1] Since national consumer protection law may impede free movement, which in itself is thus designed to advance the consumer interest, the European Court of Justice (hereafter: ECJ or Court), has developed its own notion of consumer interest.[2] This notion relates to the consumer’s capacity to process information and make informed choices about available products and services, which is crucial for the market integration process. According to the case law of Court the consumer is considered an individual who can, if provided with the necessary information, make his own choices and defend his own interests. In GB-INNO-BM the Court held that “Article 28 (now Article 34 TFEU) cannot be interpreted as meaning that national legislation which denies the consumer access to certain kinds of information may be justified by mandatory requirements concerning consumer protection”.[3] This is also referred to as the notion of ‘reasonably circumspect consumer’ considering the Court’s perception “that most consumers are sufficiently robust and well-informed to take care of themselves in the market place”.[4]

Deliverable 5.4 looks into the rights of consumers in the Digital Single Market and into consumers’ experiences in a number of Member States in the (cross-border) online purchase of goods and services. This Deliverable thus contributes to gaining more knowledge about the capacity of consumers to process information and make informed choices in the field of the digital single market. As this case study builds upon previous research carried out in the context of Work Package 5 and particularly on Deliverable 5.2, it does not, contrary to what is stated in the Description of Work (DoW) deal with the energy market. Deliverable 5.2 focussed on the following three implementation-items:

  1. Access of economic actors to the market
  2. The protection of economic rights of consumers
  3. The protection of citizens’ rights in the digital era
  4. Deliverable 5.4 deepens the analysis carried out in Deliverable 5.2 with respect to the second two implementation items., These dealt with general implementation issues relating to the Consumer rights Directive 2011/83/EU and the protection of personal data of consumers.

As was stated in Deliverable 5.2 in respect of the Digital Single Market Commissioner Ansip explicitly mentions, among others: breaking down national silos in (…) copyright and data protection legislation (…); helping build the framework conditions for protecting citizens online, including fighting against cybercrime, and simplifying consumer rules for online shopping[5]. Deliverable 5.2 focused on the protection of online citizens. Rapid technological developments in the field of the Internet have considerably increased the possibilities for citizens to do business, also cross-border, to provide and receive information via the Internet and to process and store data. The positive effects of these developments can hardly be denied. But at the same time there are growing concerns about the protection of citizens’ personal data and privacy in the digital society, not only as a result of the state seeking to collect personal data in its fight against crime and terrorism, but also of the increasing ability and desire of companies using these data for business purposes.

Trust is essential for the development of the Digital Single Market and the abolishment of barriers for citizens to sell and purchase goods and services cross-border. A number of measures have been adopted at EU level to enhance the internal market and to protect citizens’ privacy and data.[6] Within the European Union, data protection flows essentially from Directive 95/46/EC and Directive 2002/58/EC[7]. In addition, a number of Articles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union are directly or indirectly relevant for data protection.

 

This Deliverable specifically focuses on the remaining challenges for consumers to effectively use these rights, to effectively process information and to make informed choices in the digital internal market. The main question is how the barriers to exercising consumer rights can be overcome so as to further enhance and develop the Digital Single Market. This research paper combines the insights provided by the country reports covering Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Hungary and the Netherlands, with regard to (digital) consumer rights. The number of countries has been established on the basis of the existing expertise within WP5 and the division of work amongst the different case studies carried out in WP5.

The research methodology used in this case study is partly the so-called ‘black letter law’ approach, which refers to a comprehensive legal analysis of legislation and case law that has been carried out, partly desk research, collecting, analysing and interpreting all other relevant information available in print or published on the Internet.

For present purposes, the term digital consumer rights covers both rights specifically dealt with in e-commerce Directive 2000/31/EC and the digital dimension of consumer rights within the meaning of Consumer rights Directive 2011/83/EU.

The digital age and the Internet offer specific challenges for consumers as well as possibilities for the EU Single Market by promoting cross-border sales and use of services. According to the Commission in its Single Market Act “the development of the digital single market is hindered by lack of consumer confidence, the prime causes of which are payment security and enforcement of consumer rights in cross-border transactions, particularly with regard to product safety and counterfeiting”.[8] As will be seen in this report, Member States support information requirements for traders and more guidance for consumers in seeking to overcome persistent barriers for consumers to purchase goods and services online, in creating more consumer confidence and in stimulating the (cross-border) sale of goods and services. The Netherlands Consumer and Market Authority (ACM), for instance, specifically endorses the idea of ‘consumer empowerment’, which is strongly linked to the above-mentioned basic notion of the consumer in EU law.[9]

The question is whether this approach meets the current challenges that European consumer policy face, where consumer behaviour and their impact on the market have considerably changed. Due to economic and technological developments and due to developments in for instance behaviour economics, the informed and rational consumer hypothesis has been challenged: consumers are in their opinion all vulnerable as they struggle to make rational decisions; they are irrational and sometimes uneducated.[10] This may also be true for the field of e-commerce and the digital Single Market, where mistrust, safety concerns, questions relating to data protection and an image of insecurity are important and persistent concerns for consumers. If consumer empowerment, through the imposition of far-reaching information requirements, may appear to be insufficient, particularly to protect the more vulnerable consumers, barriers will continue to exist. And this will hamper the further development of the Digital Single Market and the cross-border online sale and purchase of goods and services.

In the questionnaire, which constitutes the basis for this Deliverable, participants in Work Package 5 have been asked to focus on three themes:

  • Theme I: Implementation of the e-commerce Directive 2000/31/EC and the digital dimension of consumer rights within the meaning of Consumer rights Directive 2011/83/EU;
  • Theme II: National experiences in online purchase of goods and services, focusing on general trends in the purchase of goods and services;
  • Theme III: National experiences in the cross-border online purchase of goods and services, focusing on the cross-border online purchase of goods and services.

[1] S Weatherill, ‘27 – Consumer Policy’ in P Craig and G De Búrca (eds), The Evolution of EU Law – Second Edition (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011) 838.

[2] Weatherill, ‘EC’ (1997) 41; see for the notion of consumer in Community law: K Mortelmans and S Watson, ‘The notion of the consumer in community law: a lottery?’ (1995) Tijdschrift voor Consumentenrecht 229-246; S Weatherill, ‘Recent case law concerning the free movement of goods: mapping the frontiers of market deregulation’ (1999) 36 CML Rev 51-85.

[3] Case C-362/88 GB-INNO-BM v Confédération du commerce luxembourgeois (GB-INNO-BM) [1990] ECR I-667, para 18. In his opinion AG Lenz emphasized the importance of information – in the form of advertisements – for consumers: ‘Information should only be withheld from the consumer for his own protection for convincing reasons. After all, it must be assumed that any accurate information can only be useful to the consumer’ (para 34).

[4] S Weatherill and P Beaumont, ‘EU Law’ (London, Longman, 1999) 699-702.

[5] http://ec.europa.eu/commission/2014-2019/ansip_en

[6] <http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/law/index_en.htm> accessed 25 June 2015.

[7] Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 24 October 19956 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data [1995] OJ L 23/11 resp. Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and on the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector [2002] OJ L 201/37.

[8] Commission Communication (n 111) 12. This part does not explicitly return in the Single Market Act II, Commission, ‘Single Market Act II: Together for new growth’ (Communication) COM (2012) 573 final.

[9] See also S. de Vries, ‘Consumer Protection and the EU Single Market Rules: the Search for the Paradigm Consumer’, Zeitschrift für Europäisches Unternehmens- und Verbraucherrecht Journal of European Consumer and Market Law (2012) 4:228 – 242

[10] I Benöhr, EU Consumer Law and Human Rights (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013) 84.

 

Download the full paper: D5.4 Capacity of the consumer to process information and make informed choices

Report on experiences with existing ECI (Deliverable 8.8)

In this report we take stock of the EU’s most recent democratic innovation, the European Citizens Initiative
(ECI). In doing so we adopt a threefold strategy. First, we unpack the institutional features of the ECI to situate
it within a broader universe of relatively well understood mechanisms of direct democracy. Second, on the
basis of an inventory of all ECI initiatives to date, we present some general trends regarding its use and
functioning. The third, more speculative, analysis looks at possible institutional trajectories for the ECI based on
our largely comparative analysis. Our findings suggest that the ECI is far from being unique and that some of
the problems that surround its functioning are common to other systems. In addition, despite its novelty, we
can already detect some general patterns as well as indirect effects on member states. Whether the instrument
could ever fulfill its democratic potential remains very much an open question however. The evidence thus far
presents a mixed picture.

Read the report here.

Report on options for direct democracy in the EU (Deliverable 8.7)

One of the solutions proposed both by politicians and scholars to deal with the alleged democratic deficit of the European Union is to favour direct participation of EU citizens in decision-making at the European level. The object of D.8.7 is to assess the viability of EU referenda as a mechanism of direct democracy. It proposes a model for a European referendum that is: 1) held on EU internal issues of primary law; 2) mandatory; 3) simultaneous in all member states; 4) binding; and 5) simple regarding subject matter.

Read the report here.