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Maastricht Treaty, European citizenship and local authorities Budapest 21 February 2024

How does the European citizenship affect local authorities?

This is one of the questions addressed by the European - Local Citizens project, funded by the European Commission under the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) programme.

The city of Kallithea in Greece is the leader of the project, in which Hungary is represented by TÖOSZ, in cooperation with the Romanian Association of Counties, the Mancomunitat de la Ribera Baixa from Spain, Panicos Hadjihambis Foundation from Cyprus, and Educpro from Portugal.

On 21 February, the international partnership met for the first time in person in Budapest, at the Municipal Information and Coordination Centre, hosted by TÖOSZ. Dr Ferenc Gyergyák, Secretary-General of TÖOSZ summarised the impact of European citizenship on local authorities. He explained that European citizenship is not a nationality. They are two inseparable, but independent concepts as European citizenship complements national citizenship, it is not replacing it. By virtue of EU citizenship, every EU citizen has the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States. Every EU citizen has the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament and in municipal elections in the Member State of residence under the same conditions as nationals of that State.

For local governments, the presence of EU citizens in a municipality can lead to additional tasks, to support them integrating into the local society and overcoming language barriers. But the positive aspects include stimulating the local economy, creating new businesses, bringing empty properties back into use, reducing or halting population decline, and widening cultural links between peoples.

Following Dr Ferenc Gyergyák presentation Tessy Melidi presented the main aspects of the project and then partners presented their organisations.

Elroy Thümmler, a Dutch businessman and now Hungarian entrepreneur presented his experience of “living and doing business in Hungary as an EU citizen” and he explained the challenges and opportunities he faced.

During the debate participants came to the conclusion that while there are still many important steps ahead for Hungarian municipalities to ensure that EU rights are properly delivered to European citizens, there are also many good examples in the country where it has been proved that working together with European citizens at the local level can create a beneficial environment for all.

The next event of the project will be held in Athens.

TOOSZ presentation 1
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TOOSZ presentation 2
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TOOSZ presentation 3
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TESSY MELIDI presentation
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KALLITHEA presentation
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HADJIHAMBIS presentation
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EDUCpro Presentation
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MANCOMUNITAT presentation
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UNCJR presentation
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