And just one more news item for today: strengthened consumer rights can of course not diminish the reality of the economic crisis and an honest evaluation of the state of EU citizenship is, therefore, needed. The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, gave a speech on this topic at the closing conference of the 'European Year of Citizens 2013', which highlights the importance of bringing Europe closer to its citizens:
'This is a time therefore when we need to keep foremost in our minds those values and principles on which the EU was founded, not just the economic ones but also, and more importantly, respect for fundamental rights, for the notion of freedom, solidarity the protection of minorities and respect for cultural and language diversity.
The Irish President Michael D. Higgins has referred to “Human Europe” and when people struggle to describe what is felt to be missing from the current make up of our Union perhaps this precisely is it, the sense of the heartbeat pulsating away and not just the sterile and silent ebbs and flows of the stock market.'
A summary of the Ombudsman's speech can be found here.