ETTW – POLITICAL UPDATE No. 5 – July 8, 2014

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 :

http://neweuropeans.net/free-movement-campaign

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.

niels@euromonde.eu           www.euromonde.eu  

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: The new members of the Civil Liberties Committee

Today – July 3, 2014 – the European Parliament appointed its committees for the coming years.

ETTW is in particular interested in the Work of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

Here is the list of its new members:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/libe/members.html?action=0&webCountry=&webTermId=&name=&politicalGroup=&bodyType=&bodyValue=&type=&filter=#menuzone

We already know and Work with a number of its members.

POLITICAL UPDATE No. 3

[level-registered-users]March 16, 2014 

  1. The European Commission’s Recommendation of Jan. 29, 2014 on voting rights

As you know the Commission made a Recommendation esp. to 5 EU member states ( Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland, Malta and United Kingdom) that they should show more flexibility in giving their citizens living in other EU member states continued voting rights in national elections.

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), which has an advisory role in the EU is preparing an OPINION supporting the Commission’s initiative. The responsible rapporteur is the Latvian member Andris Gobins, and they have asked me as president for ETTW to assist in drafting and defending their Opinion.  I enclose for your information the draft we have made (where ETTW is explicitly mentioned). Several of you – our ETTW members – contributed to this process.  This has been a very interesting task – done in a very short time.   The next steps is a meeting in the special committee dealing with these matters on April 7, at 10.00 (a public meeting), where I will assist the rapporteur in the presentation and discussion. And if our proposal is adopted it will go to the EESC plenary on April 29-30 for adoption.

            Please, keep the draft in limited circulation until the final version is there.

    

This role is in my view a very good example of how we can and should work in the future in ETTW. And where we give added-value to our members and to our goals.

As you might have heard the Lib-Dem political party in the UK  ( a coalition partner in the government) decided at its congress on March 1-2 to support the Commission’s initiative.  Another political step forward.

 

 

 

  1. A European policy for the European diaspora:

The coming Latvian EU presidency (spring 2015) intends to make a new and active European policy for the 80 mio strong European diaspora one of its priorities.

I was earlier this week invited to Riga to meet Latvia’s foreign minister, Mr. Edgars Rinkevics, the chairwoman of the European Committee of the Latvian Parliament and a number of ministerial officials.  The purpose was to present our ideas for such a policy and to discuss how we can help the Latvian presidency in the preparations and activities in this field.

The meetings were very positive. The minister sent out a press statement to that effect after our meeting.  See the statement enclosed.

Some of the ideas and plans we discussed were topics like giving priority to diaspora issues in the coming European Parliament and coming European Commission (incl. a Commissioner responsible for diaspora affairs), a special conference for the dispora during the presidency, a request for a feasibility study on the economic impact of expatriates, better protection of Europeans outside the EU, a special European Year of Diaspora in 2016 or 2017, etc..

Aldis Austers – who very efficiently had organised my visit – and I will very soon make a joint follow-up Action Plan to the meetings.  You will, of course, get a copy.

  1. Consular protection of European citizens outside the EU

The EU Council of ministers is in the last stages of treating the Commission proposal from 2011 about better consular protection of European citizens outside the EU.  It is hoped that it will be adopted during the present Greek presidency (i.e. before the end of June).  When adopted it is a very important step forward – and we should in ETTW make a pro-active promotion of it.

Ramon Jimenez Fraile has prepared a ETTW Fact Sheet about the initiative (will be sent to you shortly).  Please, use it as actively as possible.

  1. European elections May 22-25:

As agreed at our last Board meeting on February 28 we should all do our utmost to stimulate expats to register for voting and to vote.

See all the rules country by country here:

www.europeancitizensabroad.eu/can-you-vote.html 

Let us also exchange testimonials from expats (in writing and if possible on video),  who recommend everybody to vote.

We will circulate everything we get to you.

  1. The European Commission’s plans for European citizenship in 2015-16:

In our frequent contact with the Commission we have been told that the Commission plans to prepare a new and enlarged European Citizenship report in 2016.  The two previous ones we published in 2010 (with 25 concrete recommendations) and in 2013 (with 12 recommendations).

To prepare the 2016 report the Commission will next spring 2015 organise a wide ranging consultation on obstacles EU citizens still encounter when wishing to exercise their EU rights. And the Commission says that organizations such as ETTW can help feed the debate under Latvian presidency, in cooperation with the presidency.

This is exactly what we should plan and do.

  1. Denmark – and dual citizenship

As you know Denmark is one of the few EU member states still not accepting dual citizenship. It will be changed now. A 112 pages report was published this week in view of making a new law accepting dual citizenship also for Danes. The proposal for the law will be presented very soon, and there is already a large majority in the parliament for the law.

  1. More members in and supporters to ETTW:

Since my last Political Update we have confirmation from expat organisations in Poland, Hungary and Romania that they should like to join forces with ETTW. The same is the case for different Associations of Britons in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal.  We also have positive feedback from a Spanish organization. And we have identified a big Italian expat organization, which might be our future partner, after our previous Italian member organization de facto stopped existing in 2006.

I have been invited to see the leadership of the Austrian expat organization in Vienna on March 18 (when I will be in town for private reasons). And I have received an invitation from the Swiss expat organisation to visit them in Berne to discuss a close cooperation.

Finally, we are developing a close partnership with organizations like European Citizens Abroad and with New Europeans.

Any formal cooperation has, of course, according to our statutes to be confirmed in by our next General Assembly.

I am personally very happy for this strong support for our cause from many countries and many sides.

Let our motto be:  Working Together is Winning Together.

Niels Jørgen Thøgersen[/level-registered-users]

POLITICAL UPDATE No. 2

[level-registered-users] December 22, 2013 

  1. The European Year of Citizens:

The year has now come to a close at a big conference in Vilnius, Lithuania.

You can find out more about it at this link:

http://www.eu2013.lt/en/events/political-meetings/international-level-and-expert-meetings/closing-conference-of-the-european-year-of-citizens-2013-how-to-make-every-year-a-year-for-citizens

We will in January get some of the reports and suggestions for follow-up from the conference.

The important conclusion from the year is that it in a way will continue. A number of follow-up actions will take place also in 2014.

I believe that the enclosed contribution from EYCA is very interesting.

  1. The European elections May 2014 – and European expats:

With the help of good contacts all over Europe I have made an update of the situation in all 28 EU member states:  Which countries allow their citizens to vote wherever they live in the world?  Which ones accept them to vote, if the live in another EU country?  And which ones do not allow them to vote in European elections at all?

I will circulate my final report in early January.

On the basis of that we and our members should launch an initiative to stimulate as many expatriates as possible to vote in May.

Please, start thinking of efficient initiatives and tools in this campaign.

  1. European observatory on citizenship:  http://eudo-citizenship.eu/

We should also work closely with them.  I have taken contact to them.

  1. European Movement:  ETTW is a member of the international European Movement.  They and their other members have a number of very interesting activities for us, such as SOLIDAR’s activities for home coming expats.

I have asked George Vlachopoulos to follow  the European Movement. Enclosed his report from the first meeting he took part in earlier this month.

 

Niels Jørgen Thøgersen [/level-registered-users]

POLITICAL UPDATE NO. 1 from the President:

[level-registered-users]

A)  The European Year of Citizens 2013:  website:  http://europa.eu/citizens-2013/

 

This year is about coming to a close. It has brought a lot of very interesting activities in all EU member states, and you have most likely been involved in some of them.

 

The closing conference for the year will take place in Vilnius later this week ( Dec. 12-13).   I enclose the programme for your information.

 

I will afterwards mail you information on the main outcome and follow-up.

 

The year 2014 is no special year. It is therefore open for the implementation of the lessons and proposals from this year.

 

Some of the main European activities in 2014 are – as you know:

 

* the elections to the European Parliament on May 22-25

* the European Council in June when the new Commission president is nominated

* the constitutive session of the new European Parliament: July 1-3

* the start of the new European Commission:  November 1.

 

B) The EU Citizenship Report 2013  (presented by the Commission on May 8)

 

You have it in English, French and German here:

 

–          EN:  http://ec.europa.eu/justice/citizen/files/com_2013_269_en.pdf

–          FR:  http://ec.europa.eu/justice/citizen/files/com_2013_269_fr.pdf

–          DE:  http://ec.europa.eu/justice/citizen/files/com_2013_269_de.pdf

It is a very interesting and rich document, which addresses most of our priorities in ETTW.

 

The Commission has selected 12 priorities which it right now is working on implementing. I enclose the list of these priorities.

 

At their meeting last week the Council of Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs welcomed the proposals and work of the Commission.   See the enclosed conclusions from the Council meeting on Dec. 6.

 

C)  Special website in the Commission’s Directorate-General Justice:

 

E-Justice Portal (in many languages):   

https://e-justice.europa.eu/home.do?action=home&plang=en

 

I believe it is very useful for our expatriates.

 

D)  Special HANDBOOK on EU Citizenship:

 

The Commission will on May 9, 2014 (Europe Day) present a Handbook on the citizenship rights and in particular their electoral rights. It will be in clear and simple language.

 

E)  The European elections in May 2014:

 

I strongly believe that expats whereever they live should be actively encouraged to take part in the European elections next year.  The national laws about their right to take part are different from member state to member state.  I am right now collecting the facts about that from all 28 EU countries.  When I have that in place I will come back to you with suggestions on what we in ETTW and our member associations can do.

 

 

I hope this information is useful to you.  Much of it is certainly of major importance to our future work in ETTW.

 

 

Niels Jørgen Thøgersen [/level-registered-users]