Page last updated at 17:43 GMT, Monday, 22 October 2012 18:43 UK

European Year of Citizens

A Ukip MEP has dismissed a proposal for 2013 to be the European Year of Citizens as a "propaganda project".

"I absolutely reject and repudiate your European citizenship," said Roger Helmer during the debate on 22 October 2012.

The European Commission hopes the year will give people across the EU the opportunity to learn about their rights and opportunities, such as their right to live and work across the EU.

The European Year of Citizens will consist of a series of events held across the union, such as education and awareness campaigns.

It is estimated it will cost around €1m.

The parliament's negotiator on the proposal, Greek socialist MEP Antigoni Papadopolou, said that Brussels felt "far away" to too many citizens, and that the year of citizenship would help people feel more involved in the way in which the EU works.

She was supported by British green MEP Jean Lambert, who said people living in the EU felt they were "on the receiving end of decisions made elsewhere".

She added that she hoped the year would end in the creation of a European Citizens Charter.

However, British Conservative MEP Emma McClarkin pointed out that the year was due to take place one year before the next European Parliament elections in 2014.

"This is a year for the EU to promote the EU project," she concluded.

MEPs formally approved the proposal at the daily voting session on 23 October.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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