Newsletter No 12 – April 2017

News from Board and Working Groups

ETTW Board meeting 22 March 2017

Joining the Fight for Europe  

ETTW has received a request to join the European initiative, Europe’s People’s Forum which aims to organize permanent citizens’ fora with selected, representative participation of citizens from all EU member states in debates about the Future of Europe.

The Board appreciated the initiative and decided to join the project as a supporting organization. See website: www.europespeoplesforum.eu  

Key issues in member organizations 

Presentations and discussions centered around the current political attention on migration and the widespread tightening of rules and procedures, regulating the free movement of citizens, by national authorities, often in violation of established citizens’ rights.

Revision of the ETTW’s policy paper ‘Towards a European Expatriates Policy – Fostering Mobility of European Citizens’

When at the end of 2014 the ETTW adopted its present overall policy paper, it was understood that it should be revised regularly. The Board opened the discussion on the current revision agreeing that many of the points, initiatives and proposals made in the paper are still valid, but that certain facts and figures need to be updated.

It was brought forward that the statements, suggestions and proposals in the paper were perhaps too narrowly directed towards the EU’s institutions and that a retargeting of some of the points more clearly aimed at the expats themselves should be considered.

It was agreed that the relevant ETTW working group will present a revised version of the policy paper to the next Board meeting on June 20th.

The ETTW i-voting campaign

The ETTW’s highly prioritized project to campaign for the introduction of i-voting in all member states continues to gather interest. The launching of a campaign addressing European expats directly and via their organizations is scheduled to begin in mid May.

The campaign will start with a crowd funding appeal to expats in order that we may be able to organize events, seminars, conferences, social media and press attention for i-voting in as many European countries as possible. The target of the campaign is the European elections in 2019.

The Maison des Associations Internationales in Brussels invited ETTW to hold one of the i-voting events under the auspices of the summer university.

The Board welcomed this proposal and agreed to start planning for the seminar. The Board encourages member organizations to participate actively and examine the possibilities of organizing campaign events in their capitals, regions or cities.

 

The European Expat/Diaspora Convention in 2018

ETTW’s project to set up a European expat/diaspora convention in 2018 in cooperation with the International Center for Migration Policy (ICMPD) in Vienna and Malta continues. The Convention is likely to be held in Malta.

Next Board meeting will take place on June 20 2017.

Contact: Steen Illeborg. E-mail:steen.illeborg@gmail.com

                                  

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News from Member Organisations

Danes Worldwide

Following the government re-shuffle in late November 2016, Danes Worldwide contacted all new ministers working on issues of relevance to Danes living abroad with their families. We have been invited to meetings in May 2017 with  Minister for Elderly People, Mrs Thyra Frank, and Minister for Employment, Mr. Troels Lund Poulsen. During the meeting with Minister Thyra Frank we will discuss pensions and social security for elderly Danes living abroad and problems occurring upon their return to Denmark. For Employment Minister Troels Lund Poulsen the agenda in particular consists of the conclusions in the report “The Danish Diaspora – an untapped Resource?”, which was carried out in 2016 in cooperation with the Copenhagen Goodwill Ambassadors.

In addition, there has been a high degree of political focus on two of Danes Worldwides´ major issues:

Rules on family reunification

Denmark is a country with tight rules on immigration. A Dane seeking family reunification with a foreign spouse and his/her children must prove that the family in total has more connection to Denmark than to the country of origin of the spouse. This also affects Danes living abroad with foreign spouses. Hence the Danish Government introduced some 15 years ago, a rule allowing Danish citizens – who had held Danish citizenship for at least 28 years – to be exempted from the rules of connectivity to Denmark. This age limit was in 2012 reduced to 26 years. However, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in May 2016 against Denmark in a decision that said the 26-year rule discriminates against people who are born outside of Denmark and obtain Danish citizenship later in life. Following this ECHR decision, the Minister of Integration tightened last summer by administrative instruction the Danish rules and abandoned the 26-years rule. This was widely criticized, not least by Danes Worldwide as many of our members would not be able to show more connection to Denmark than to another country, particularly for elderly Danes, who have re-married and lived for some 25 – 30 years in a new country with their spouse.

The Government presented on March 1st a proposal which would ease rules on family reunification for Danes, who return to Denmark on the basis of a job offer with a salary of min. DKK 408.000/year  (some € 54.400/year) or who are  included on the so-called “positive- list” (areas where employers lack labor). However, this proposal is only a minor help to Danes abroad: It doesn´t include lower paid people, retired people or entrepreneurs to name a few. Hence Danes Worldwide has had meetings with Members of the Parliament from a number of political parties to secure support for a new proposal, which we presented to the Parliament on April 6th. The proposal puts less emphasis on connection to Denmark if the applicants instead can show a higher degree of integration ability such as financial ability to provide for yourself and proof of knowledge of the Danish language. We are awaiting the reaction to this proposal.

Conversion of grades from IB and other schools into the national Danish grading system

This is another big issue for members of Danes Worldwide. Further to our meeting with the former Minister of Research and Higher Education Mrs. Ulla Tørnæs last September, Danes Worldwide has put major pressure on the government and other members of the Parliament. In February 2017, the Ministry of Research and Higher Education established a fast working committee, which was tasked with analyzing the IB school system in Denmark, in particular the conversion of grades and the pattern of IB students at universities and other higher education. Danes Worldwide and our cooperation partner on these matters, Danish Students Abroad, have so far presented several reports and surveys to the Ministry and have been invited for monthly meetings to discuss the matter. A report on this is expected before the summer break.

Contact: Anne-Marie Dalgård. E-mail : amd@danes.dk

Maltese Living Abroad

Maltese Language taught around the world

Maltese Communities in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Italy, Luxembourg, United Kingdom and the United States of America mainly operate Maltese Language Schools. Besides the University of Malta, one university in China and another in Germany offer Maltese Language courses.

In Australia, where the number of students is the highest, there is a Federation of Maltese Language Schools (FMLS) which offers coordination and qualifies for grants and financial assistance offered by respective State and Federal Governments. Furthermore, besides the FMLS there is also private schools that offer Maltese Language teaching.

Sources:  http://www.federationofmalteselanguageschoolsaustralia.com/

http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2016-11-08/local-news/Maltese-language-taught-in-universities-in-Germany-and-China-Minister-Evarist-Bartolo-6736166352

 

Vlamingen in de Wereld

Information Day about emigration to the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand

On the 23rd of May 2017, the foundation Flemings in the World (VIW) organises an open information day about emigrating to the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Information sessions about visa regulations and insurance policies will be interspersed with testimonials from fellow countrymen who emigrated to these countries and will share their experiences with the audience. After the general exposition, the floor is open to an information market, where the audience members are free to talk to experts in all matters concerning visa, insurance, moving options, mother tongue education, U.S. tax information, and more. The sessions will be held in Dutch. For more information, contact VIW at info@viw.be and take a look at our website www.viw.be.

 

Dual nationality

The public debate about dual nationality has erupted once more in Belgium. The fact that this issue concerns many fellow countrymen abroad, comes as no surprise to you. They are overlooked as a group and risk becoming the losing party in this discussion.

We feel most media are reporting a one-sided story. They lose sight of how and why the dual nationality came into effect.

This is why we ask the media to disclose this aspect and add it to the debate. The VRT (public broadcaster) already granted our request. You can read the article here: http://deredactie.be/permalink/1.2957461

Contact: Koen van der Schaeghe. E-mail: koen.vanderschaeghe@viw.be

 

Ente Friuli nel Mondo

New Fogolar in Wien

The network of Friuli nel Mondo, the Italian Member of ETTW, has been enriched with a new Section, with the inauguration of the Vienna Fogolar, which was constituted in the Austrian capital on 1 April 2017, and which leads to 178 the number of Sections (named “Fogolars”) representing the Friulian Association in the World.

The aim of the new local Association, shared by the other Fogolars around the World, is the promotion of socio-cultural activities to echo the history and culture of the Friuli language and people, as well as to develop cooperative initiatives between Friuli and Austria.

At the inaugural ceremony, held at the Italian Institute of Culture in Vienna and sponsored by the Italian Embassy in Vienna, were also present the President of Friuli in the World, Adriano Luci and the Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Vienna Fabrizio Iurlano.

A training project for foreign Friulians students

The 16th edition of the “Studiare in Friuli”(Study in Friuli) project is in progress. This project, initiated in 2001 thanks to the collaboration between the School Paolo Diacono of Cividale and Ente Friuli nel Mondo, Member of ETTW, in which the children of the emigrated Friulians are given the opportunity to attend an entire year of study living in the Region.

27 students, aged between 15 and 18 and coming from Argentina and Canada, attend the scholar regular activities in Institutes in the Friulian town (Convitto Paolo Diacono, the Agricultural Institute, the Technical Institute, and the Professional Institute of State). All this thanks to scholarships covering the expenses of the full stay and the costs for the attendance at the didactic activities and participation in cultural activities in the territory.

At the end of the school year, the students will return to their home country where they will be recognized as the course of study attended in Italy through an evaluation and a certification issued at the end of the activity.

For more information on the goals and modalities of participation, see the website of the Paolo Diacono Institute at www.cnpd.it.

Contact:  Giuseppe Rosin. E-mail: giuseppe.rosin@gmail.com

  

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News from Partner Organisations and other Sources

New Europeans

Meeting with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani in London

New Europeans met recently with President Tajani following his visit to Theresa May. We briefed the President about the work we are doing to safeguard the rights of EU citizens in the UK and with ECAS to collect evidence about EU citizens’ experiences particularly with the Home Office and the issues faced by UK citizens living in the EU.

President Tajani has asked New Europeans to provide a monthly monitoring service about these issues for his office and we will be doing this in conjunction with and on behalf of our partner organisations including Migrant Voice, Amnesty International, Right2Remain, Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association  and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.On 10th May we plan to hold a public hearing in Brussels where we will present our findings ahead of the European Parliament hearing on 11 May being held by three parliamentary committees (Petitions, Employment and Social Affairs and Human Rights). We will also be speaking at the parliamentary hearing (the draft programme is being amended accordingly).

Briefing for the meeting with President Tajani:

https://neweuropeans.net/event/1836/european-parliament-president-tajani-meet-new-europeans-london-discuss-righttostay

#right2stay

New Europeans won the Shelia McKechnie Foundation People’s Choice Award for leading the Right To Stay campaign for a unilateral guarantee for EU citizens’ rights in the UK.

https://neweuropeans.net/article/1791/righttostay-wins-smk-peoples-choice-award

The Labour Party and Plaid Cymru has announced their manifesto commitment to an immediate unilateral guarantee of rights for all EU citizens in the UK – this is a significant moment for the campaign and we are pressing for such statements from all the other parties.

Votes for Life

New Europeans has started a snap campaign for votes for life which the Conservatives had promised in their manifesto but have not yet delivered. We have written to the Prime Minister and the Chris Skidmore MP, Minister for the Constitution and are running a petition on the issue.

Please share the petition widely and ask people to sign up – you do not need to be UK citizens for this petition.

https://neweuropeans.net/event/1841/votes-life-petition-deadline-2-may

 

British Europeans

New Europeans are setting up a new initiative in the UK to speak up for the rights of British people (not just those living elsewhere in the EU) who want to retain their EU citizenship rights and identify with Europe – this will be a new parliamentary group when the new parliament is elected.

This is not about securing a special deal for British people once the UK has left the EU – we believe this to be an impossible ask. It is to do with keeping the sense of being British and European alive.

We advised the UK citizens in the EU to form a common platform which they have now done (British in Europe) and to write an Alternative White Paper which they have also done very successfully.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/02/alternative-white-paper-britons-eu-rights-protected

Local elections

In view of local elections in the UK outside London on 4 May, New Europeans

are mobilising EU citizens to support candidates who make a public statement to support EU citizens and are pressing for a number of important demand in our New Europeans Election Manifesto (aimed at all the parties).

https://neweuropeans.net/candidates-pledge-0

https://neweuropeans.net/new-europeans-manifesto

We are reviewing our strategy for the general election and will aim to use it as an opportunity to change the tone of the migration debate and to support pro-European candidates wherever possible. Contact: Roger Casale.E-mail:roger.casale@neweuropeans.net

 

European Citizens’ rights, Involvement and Trust (ECIT)

Developing a more substantial European Citizenship

From 30th August to 1st September 2017, ECIT Foundation organises its second edition of the Summer University on European citizenship “Countering threats to European citizenship across borders, reconfiguring its future” which will take place at the Maison des Associations Internationales, Brussels.

This three-day event will bring together people from all over Europe and from different backgrounds – students, academics, activists, as well as representatives of the European Institutions – to debate European Citizenship from all angles, its gaps, challenges and future. You will find the ECIT Summer University very different from the usual European conference: there is real content, brainstorming and the right atmosphere and environment to test out your ideas and learn from others! Draft Programme, Call for Partners and Registration form are available on our website.

Contact: info@ecit-foundation.eu.

 

Lithuanians and Dual Citizenship

La Libre Belgique reports that Lithuania may soon amend its citizenship law to allow dual citizenship, following a proposal supported by 114 Lithuanian MPs in a parliament of 141 seats in total. This would mean that Lithuanians living in the UK could acquire British citizenship without having to give up their Lithuanian passport and therefore their status as an EU citizen after Brexit.

Up until now, Lithuanian law only granted dual nationality to those who left the country under the Nazi or Soviet occupations. As the spokesperson of the Lithuanian community in the UK put it, the country could not allow itself to lose so many educated and tax-paying citizens.
Since Lithuania’s accession to the EU in 2004, almost half of the approximately 370,000 people who left the country have settled in the United Kingdom.

The article in FrenchBrexit – La Lituanie veut autoriser la double nationalité

2016 statistics on the Swiss abroad

Almost 775,000 Swiss citizens were living abroad as at 31 December 2016 according to statistics published by the FDFA.

In a press release issued on 1 March 2017, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) indicated that the total number of Swiss abroad rose to 774,923 in 2016 with an increase of 21,784 persons (+2,9%) compared to 2015. At the end of 2016, 10% of the Swiss population was residing abroad. The total number of Swiss expatriates now represents Switzerland’s third largest canton after cantons Zurich and Bern and before canton Vaud.

Figures by continent and country

For the ninth consecutive year, Asia saw the greatest percentage rise in Swiss citizens abroad in 2016 (+4,3%) followed by Europe, America, Oceania and Africa. In absolute terms, it is Europe which has seen the greatest rise with 14,530 more persons followed by America and Asia. Almost 62% of the Swiss abroad, 482,194 persons exactly, therefore live in Europe.

France still has the largest Swiss expatriate community with 200,730 persons or 25.9% of the total number of the Swiss abroad. Germany has the second highest number of Swiss expatriates (89,390) followed by the US (81,075).

Need for the rapid introduction of e-voting

The number of Swiss registered on electoral rolls to perform their civic duties is 158,419. A quarter of our compatriots of voting age is therefore registered on the rolls to exercise their political rights. The rapid introduction of electronic voting that meets the security requirements is therefore needed for our diaspora to ensure they are not prevented from exercising their civic duties due to the late arrival or errors with the sending of official documents.

Sources: Statistics 2016 of the Swiss abroad (only in German) 

Press release of the FDFA

 

Lithuanians and Dual Citizenship

La Libre Belgique reports that Lithuania may soon amend its citizenship law to allow dual citizenship, following a proposal supported by 114 Lithuanian MPs in a parliament of 141 seats in total. This would mean that Lithuanians living in the UK could acquire British citizenship without having to give up their Lithuanian passport and therefore their status as an EU citizen after Brexit.

Up until now, Lithuanian law only granted dual nationality to those who left the country under the Nazi or Soviet occupations. As the spokesperson of the Lithuanian community in the UK put it, the country could not allow itself to lose so many educated and tax-paying citizens.
Since Lithuania’s accession to the EU in 2004, almost half of the approximately 370,000 people who left the country have settled in the United Kingdom.

The article in FrenchBrexit – La Lituanie veut autoriser la double nationalité  

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Interesting Reading

Brexit: European Council (Art. 50) guidelines following the United Kingdom’s notification under Article 50 TEU on EU Citizens´Rights

Our duty is to minimise the uncertainty and disruption caused by the UK decision to withdraw from the EU for our citizens, businesses and Member States. As I have already said, in essence it is about damage control. We need to think of people first. Citizens from all over the EU live, work and study in the UK. And as long as the UK remains a member, their rights are fully protected. But we need to settle their status and situations after the withdrawal with reciprocal, enforceable and non-discriminatory guarantees, President Tusk said presenting the guidelines.

An orderly withdrawl – Citizens First!!

This is the paragraph in the Council´s Guidelines that covers EU Citizens:

(P8)The right for every EU citizen, and of his or her family members, to live, to work or to study in any EU Member State is a fundamental aspect of the European Union. Along with other rights provided under EU law, it has shaped the lives and choices of millions of people. Agreeing reciprocal guarantees to safeguard the status and rights derived from EU law at the date of withdrawal of EU and UK citizens, and their families, affected by the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union will be the first priority for the negotiations. Such guarantees must be effective, enforceable, non-discriminatory and comprehensive, including the right to acquire permanent residence after a continuous period of five years of legal residence. Citizens should be able to exercise their rights through smooth and simple administrative procedures.

Read the full text of the EU Guidelines: European Council (Art. 50) guidelines for Brexit negotiations, 29 April 2017

European Citizens’ Initiatives on the rights of Union citizens after Brexit

The European Commission has registered two European Citizens’ Initiatives concerning the rights of Union citizens in the context of the withdrawal of a Member State from the EU.

The first invites the Commission to separate Union citizenship from Member State nationality in light of the UK withdrawal from the EU (“EU Citizenship for Europeans: United in Diversity in spite of jus soli and jus sanguinis”), and the second calls on the Commission to uphold the right of Union citizens to move and reside freely within the European Union (“Retaining European Citizenship”). The Commission’s decisions concern the legal admissibility of the proposed initiatives. At this stage, the Commission has not examined the substance of the initiatives.

The Commission found that the “EU Citizenship for Europeans: United in Diversity in spite of jus soli and jus sanguinis and the Retaining European Citizenship” initiatives meet the conditions necessary for registration under the Regulation on European Citizens’ Initiatives. Both European initiatives call on the Commission to protect the status and rights of EU citizenship, in the context of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

While the Commission cannot propose secondary legislation aiming at granting EU citizenship to natural persons who do not hold the nationality of a Member State of the Union, the rights of EU citizens in the UK (3,2 million) and the rights of UK citizens in the EU (1.2 million) after the withdrawal of the UK will be at the core of the upcoming Article 50 negotiations. The Commission will do its upmost to prevent EU citizens from being used as bargaining chips in the negotiations with the UK.

Next steps

The formal registration of the “Retaining European Citizenship initiative” will take place on 2 May and the registration of the “EU Citizenship for Europeans” initiative took place on 27 March. In both cases, this will start a one-year process of collection of signatures in support of the proposed European Citizens’ Initiative by their organisers.

Once formally registered, a European Citizens’ Initiative allows one million citizens from at least one quarter of EU Member States to invite the European Commission to propose a legal act in areas where the Commission has the power to do so.

If – and only if – a registered European Citizens’ Initiative receives the signatures of one million validated statements of support from at least seven Member States within a period of one year from the time it was registered, the Commission must decide whether or not it would act, and explain the reasons for that choice.

More Information:

Full text of the proposed “EU citizenship for Europeans: United diversity in spite of jus soli and jus sanguini” (available on 27 March 2017)

Full text of the proposed “Retaining European Citizenship” (available on 2 May 2017)

Voting for a vote for the Irish abroad

On March, 17 Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced that the Government will hold a referendum on whether to allow Irish citizens living abroad, including those in Northern Ireland, to vote in presidential elections. The referendum is likely to take place in 2018 but not in time for that year’s election, so the earliest relevant presidential ballot, if the vote is in favour, would be in 2025.

Kenny said the move would be “a profound recognition of the importance that Ireland attaches to all of our citizens, wherever they may be” – although that recognition has been a long time coming.

In 2014 Ireland was one of just five European Union countries criticised by the European Commission for disenfranchising its citizens by denying those living abroad the right to vote at home. About 130 countries allow their emigrants to vote in domestic elections, and as far back as 2013 a majority of the Convention on the Constitution – 78 of its 100 members – voted that Ireland should extend the right to vote to citizens living abroad.

The size of the Irish diaspora, estimated at up to 70 million worldwide, including 40 million in the US, potentially complicates matters, although the actual number of people with Irish citizenship entitling them to vote is a fraction of those numbers.

Still, estimating the size of a potential overseas Irish electorate, and whether it should be limited to citizens who were born, have spent time or have voted in Ireland, will be among the first challenges on the path to the referendum.

The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government is to publish a paper, setting out options on voting and voting eligibility, though Minister of State for the Diaspora Joe McHugh has already said that the Government would consider online voting.

The Government has no exact figure on the number of Irish citizens outside the State. The Department of Foreign Affairs says that initial estimates put the figure at 1.73 million outside the island of Ireland, but that excludes Irish citizens in Northern Ireland or people in the North entitled to citizenship. It also does not include the people who may be entitled to Irish citizenship through descent.

The overseas electorate could therefore be almost as big as the 3.2 million who had the vote in the 2011 presidential election and exceed the 1.7 million people who actually voted in that election.

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/abroad/voting-for-a-vote-for-the-irish-abroad-1.3013105

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 Upcoming Events

16-17 June: Finnish Expatriate Parliament and Jubilee Celebrations, Helsinki

28-30 July: European Congress of Latvians, Riga-Stockholm-Riga

18-20 August: 95th Congress of the Swiss Abroad, Basel

21-23 August: Summer Programme and Swedish Expatriate Parliament, Stockholm

30 August-1 September 2017: “Countering threats to European citizenship across borders, reconfiguring its future”, Brussels 

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 Contributions to ETTW News Service from Member organisations and Partners are welcome to the ETTW News Editor: Ylva Tivéus ylva@tiveus.eu

Next edition: July 2017