Promoting citizens' rights: a Europe of rights
Since the Treaty of Maastricht, European citizenship has granted additional rights to Member States' citizens, including the right to move and reside freely, the right to vote and stand as candidates in municipal elections and in elections to the European Parliament, access to diplomatic protection by another Member State outside the EU, the right to submit a petition to the European Parliament and to the European Ombudsman. The Stockholm Programme deepens this citizenship:
■ A Europe based on fundamental rights
The Union has started negociations to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights. This will reinforce the obligation of the Union to ensure that in all its areas of activity, fundamental rights and freedoms are actively promoted.
■ Full exercise of the right to free movement
Provided that all the conditions required for the application of the Schengen acquis are met, the EU will take all the measures necessary to allow the removal of internal border controls between Member States that have declared their willingness to join the Schengen area. The SIRENE network plays a major part in managing the Schengen area.
Children who are victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, children who are victims of trafficking and unaccompanied minors should receive special attention.
Victims of terrorism also need special attention.
Reconciling the increasing exchange of personal data and the need to ensure the protection of privacy.
A citizen of the Union in a third country where his or her Member State is not represented is entitled to protection by the diplomatic and consular authorities of any other Member State.
■ Living together in an area that respects diversity and protects the most vulnerable
Children who are victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, children who are victims of trafficking and unaccompanied minors should receive special attention in the context of Union migration policy. The Union and the Member States need to continue their concerted efforts to fully integrate vulnerable groups, in particular the Roma community, into society by promoting their inclusion in the education system and on the labour market and by taking action to prevent violence against them. Those who are most vulnerable in a Member State of which they are not nationals or residents are in need of special support and legal protection. Victims of terrorism also need special attention. (see: Fight against terrorism).
■ Rights of the individual in criminal proceedings
The protection of the rights of suspected and accused persons in criminal proceedings is a fundamental value of the Union, which is essential in order to maintain mutual trust between the Member States and public confidence in the Union. With this in mind, the Council adopted a resolution on a roadmap for strengthening procedural rights of suspected or accused persons in criminal proceedings.
■ Protecting citizen's rights in the information society
The Union must respond to the challenge posed by the increasing exchange of personal data and the need to ensure the protection of privacy. The EU will reinforce its comprehensive data protection strategy both internally and in its relations with third countries. Thus a comprehensive directive will cover in particular the essential aspects that must feature in data protection agreements concluded for enforcement purposes with third countries on the basis of a high level of data protection.
■ Participation in the democratic life of the Union
The Union citizens' initiative introduced by Article 11 TEU creates a new mechanism for civic participation. In this spirit, the possibility of creating a common election day for elections to the European Parliament has been studied.
■ Entitlement to protection in non-Member States
A citizen of the Union in a third country where his or her Member State is not represented is entitled to protection by the diplomatic and consular authorities of any other Member State. Appropriate measures will be taken to establish the coordination and cooperation necessary to facilitate consular protection.