DUBLIN, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- The European Year of Citizens 2013 was launched in Dublin on Thursday by Irish leaders and visiting European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
The objective of the year is to to ensure that people know their rights as EU citizens and ways to exercise them to the full. The Year of Citizens will also encourage public debate about what EU citizenship means for the people of the EU.
The launching ceremony was held in Dublin City Hall where 200 people from all walks of life had registered to take part in the first citizens' dialogue of the year.
"As well as acknowledging what has been achieved together in Europe, we need to focus on what the EU means for individual citizens," said Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at the launching ceremony.
"People should be aware of what membership of the EU means and how they can take the fullest benefit to improve their lives. And at a time when part of Europe's response to shared challenges is through deeper integration, it is more important than ever that the union be transparent, and accountable, to its citizens," he said.
Meanwhile, Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore said the economic crisis had seen levels of public trust suffer at national and EU levels.
"We need to act to restore that trust and to empower our citizens," said Gilmore.