POLITICAL UPDATE No. 5
July 8, 2014
- The new European Parliament at work
The 751 members of the European Parliament elected in May have now started working. About half of the members are elected for the first time. The 20 standing committees have now been organised with a president each and four vice-presidents. These elections took place yesterday.
The committee which is most important for our work in ETTW is the Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).
You can see its members here.
The new chairman is Mr. Claude Moraes, from the socialist group (British Labour member). He has been a MEP since 1999. He is of Indian origin and has a large part of his life worked for the improvement of conditions for immigrants.
I will on behalf of ETTW take direct contact to Mr. Moraes and his team.
It will also be very interesting to see, if an Intergroup on expat affairs will be created by the new parliament.
ETTW has been invited to meet the new MEPs at a reception organised by our partner the European Movement today, July 8. And we will, of course, be present.
ETTW policy : To work closely with the members of the LIBE committee on all our priority policies. And to do the same with the Intergroup, if it is created.
- The voting of expats in the European elections
We are gathering information from all 28 EU member states on how many expats took part in the elections (in the large majority of countries where it is possible). On the basis of that we will make concrete proposals on how to make many more expats vote in the next European elections in 2019.
ETTW policy : To promote that European expats always take active part in all elections they are allowed to vote in – be it national elections, European elections, referenda, etc. In order to get there procedures have to be simplified and streamlined and electronic registration and electronic voting made possible.
- Italy new presidency in the EU
From July 1 Italy has taken over the presidency of the EU from Greece. Its logo is very modern design – symbolising a swallow in flight .
And here you have the presidency’s website in English : http://italia2014.eu/en/
Prime minister Matteo Renzi presented the programme of the presidency to the European Parliament last week. His full speech is here.
His overall description on how he sees Europe is in this statement :
“Isn’t it thrilling to think that you have been called today to realise the dream of the United States of Europe, a dream of a generation that began creating a new entity on the ruins of the war? So we – the Erasmus generation – should tell our children that Europe today can be the place where hope is alive and breathing”.
The Italians have give one of its priorities to young people. Very much in line with our work in ETTW.
The ministers of Justice and Home Affairs have their first informal meeting in Milan today and tomorrow (July 8-9). You can see the agenda here.
There are no agenda points of direct importance to our ETTW priorities.
The Council meetings on Justice and Home Affairs will take place on October 9-10 and on December 4-5.
ETTW policy : To work closely with all EU presidencies on our priorities.
- The European Commission – the next steps
The present Commission under president Barroso continues until October 31. By the nits 5 year mandate expires. As a number of Commissioners have been elected members of the European Parliament they have, of course, stepped down as commissioners. Their tasks have been distributed to other Commissioners for the remaining 4 months.
Former vice-president Viviane Reding’s portefolio in justice and home affairs will be handled by the Austrian commissioner, Mr. Johannes Hahn.
The procedures to nominate the members of the new Commission from November 1 are ongoing. Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker from Luxembourg is foreseen to become the next Commission president. The Parliament will have its vote on him on July 16. All other 27 candidates as members of the Commission have been or will be presented by the member states in the coming weeks, and in September the Parliament will arrange hearings with each of them and vote on their nomination.
When the organisation of the future Commission is concerned work is ongoing to give the responsability for all issues of importance to citizens to one Commissioner and not like today have them spread under several commissioners and in several directorates-general. The final decision on that will be for the new Commission to take in November.
ETTW policy : To work hard for making expat affairs one of the priorities in the new Commission and to see them handled « under one hat ». And after that to work closely with those responsible.
- Preparations for a new European policy for the expats / diaspora
ETTW is well under way in its preparations of concrete proposals for a new and coherent European policy for European expats wherever they are. We have had the first working group meeting on June 5 and the next one takes place on July 15. The aim is to assist the European institutions and not least the coming Latvian EU presidency (spring 2015) in their work on this important issue. The Latvians have – as I have previously mentioned – decided to make that one of their priorities.
One of our initiatives is to organise a conference on this topic in Brussels in the second half of January 2015. I believe that the Latvian Presidency is planning a bigger conference on diaspora issues later next spring. They could support each other.
ETTW policy : To work for a forward looking and dynamic expat policy on European as well as on national level.
- Free movement campaign
Our partner New Europeans has launched a petition for free movement and the rights of EU citizens :
ETTW policy: We support this initiative and encourage people to sign the petition.
- The value of mobility and of expats
All over Europe people discuss and dispute on the effects of mobility and the value of expats. At the same time a lot of studies have been made and are on the way in many countries and EU institutions.
ETTW has decided to make it one of its priorities and has created a working group under the leadership of Chris Ugilt Hansen. We are looking for partners in the academic world for this work, which is of crucial importance.
ETTW policy: To ensure that all available information on these topics is easily accessible and that facts still missing will be analysed and presented.
- Our new members and partners
We are continuing our efforts to have members supporting our aims in all countries in Europe.
In addition to our member organisations and our candidate members we now also have 32 individual candidate members from all over Europe. They want to support our work and in many cases also work for us as volunteers in our working groups, at conferences, in our activities on the web and in our social media, etc. You see an overview of all our present members here.
In addition we are in active dialogue with a number of supporting organisations such as Friuli nel Mondo in Italy, a number of Spanish organisations, the big Swiss expat organisation ASO (which has invited us as guest to their annual conference in Baden i August) – and several more.
We have also made a partnership agreement with the organisation Européens sans Frontières.
- Communicating with European expats around the world
With 80 mio. European expats or more scattered around the world it is an important challenge how to communicate with them and make them aware of their rights and what work we are trying to do for them. In the countries which have strong national expat organisations this work is easier than for expats from countries, where no such national organisation exist.
It is evident that the use of social media, of TV and radio and of other media plays the central role. Perhaps not yet – but that is how it should be. The question is how and with whom.
I am preparing an article on How to communicate with expats worldwide for the organisation Club of Venice, which is an informal club of all communication directors in the governments of the EU member states and of the EU candidate countries. I am the vice-president of that Club and is contributing this article to our magazine Convergences. It will, of course, also be available on our ETTW website.
Question : If you have suggestions to this communication strategy, please let me know.
ETTW policy : To organise with our members that we have an interactive communication with as many European expats in the world as possible.
- Calendar on coming events of interest to expats (edited by Raymond Xerri)
The newest Calendar will always be available on our website here.
Niels Jørgen Thøgersen – president of Europeans Throughout the World.