Newsletter No 8 – June 2016
News from Board and Working Groups
Board meetings and activities
ETTW Board Meeting and General Assembly, was postponed from June 10, 2016 until June 29 to coincide with ETTW conference on i-voting.
Report from Working Group
A New European Emigrants’ Policy – Follow-up to the Riga Recommendations
- ETTW was represented at the Euromed IV Diaspora conference in Dublin 4-6 May. (Further reading below) The event looked at ways and means of using positive diaspora experience from home countries such as Ireland and Lithuania and good examples of outreach measures to diaspora communities abroad. Euromed partners both North and South of the Mediterranean showed interest in the work of ETTW member organizations and the ongoing priority projects of the association. The organizers of the conference: the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) are interested in working with the ETTW on Diaspora projects.
- Publication of the European Citizenship Report 2016, on which ETTW has rendered an opinion, will not be published until after the UK referendum.
- Preparation of the EUROSTAT Social Statistics Conference in November in Luxembourg, to which ETTW has contributed, is progressing well in the EUROSTAT science committee. Speakers will be contacted before the summer break and a draft programme should be ready for the Board meeting.
- As requested by the Board, WG 1 has looked into new ways of funding ETTW activities. A proposal will be presented to the Board meeting on June 29th.
- The WG has followed up on its meeting with the President of the European Court of Justice on the possibility for monitoring of ECJ case law rulings with consequences for the free movement of citizens. After a fruitful meeting with a representative of the Belgian Conseil d’Etat (Supreme Court) the next step will include Belgian universities and the Maastricht Institute.
Steen Illeborg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Voting Rights and Working Group III, Electronic voting
The Working Groups have given special attention to the prioritized project of electronic voting in European elections. The groups have had fruitful contacts with SMARTMATIC and SCYTL, the two leading European companies for electronic voting. It considers that the most efficient and secure form of electronic voting is ‘internet voting’.
WG III has been preparing a Conference on internet voting (i-voting) targeting the EU 2019 elections. In cooperation with the two companies several intermediate meetings were held in the European Parliament to draw up the agenda of the conference. Originally scheduled for May 24 it will be held on June 29 from 15:00 – 18:30 in the European Parliament. The event is being organized jointly with Romanian MEP Monica Macovei and her staff. ETTW has contacted other MEPs especially from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania on this hearing to which members, partner organizations and relevant EC services have also been invited . In preparing the seminar the WG has focused specifically on expats’ voting rights. The conference poster was sent out separately (see ETTW News 7). All ETTW members are kindly asked to spread information about the conference in order to obtain participants from as many of the EU 28 countries as possible.
Contact: Dorin Fleseriu: email@example.com
Working Group IV, Expats and Education
Following contacts with the European Commission based on the report presented at the ETTW Board meeting in November 2015, Sophie Beernaerts, head of the unit in DG EAC in charge of support of schools, has agreed to:
- Participate in a meeting of networks of national schools abroad, European and International schools. Such a meeting is in preparation (meeting in Paris with the initiators of this initiative, contact with the European Schools and other networks, as well as with the city of Amsterdam) and could be organized with the European Committee of the Regions. The inventory of those networks could be done by the European agency in charge of the Eurydice.
- Envisage the participation of some national members of the ETTW in a European exercise of exchange of good practices on the problem of transition between educational systems (issues about the language of instruction, the language of origin, multicultural classes etc.)
The European agenda for skills has just been published by the European Commission In this context:
- An analysis of the way the contribution of ETTW has been taken into account is ongoing as well as the identification of new initiatives relevant for the ETTW
- A meeting took place in Copenhagen to prepare a resolution for a better recognition of the baccalaureate grade throughout the educational systems and other grades when relevant.
Contact: Pierre Mairesse firstname.lastname@example.org
EUROMED IV Conference, ‘Connecting, Communicating and Networking with Diasporas’ in Dublin 4-6 May, 2016.
The conference was hosted by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in cooperation with the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) supported by the Irish organization, Diaspora Matters. It brought together representatives from the European Neighbourhood Instrument South Partner Countries, EU member states and international organizations. It was the first peer-to peer meeting along the theme of Diaspora engagement and outreach. ETTW was invited as rapporteur for one of the sessions
For ETTW it was an interesting event which looked at ways and means of using positive diaspora experience from countries such as Ireland and Lithuania and good examples of outreach measures from other home countries to diaspora communities abroad. It was an exchange of worldwide best practices and lessons learnt in the fields of engagement, communication and networking with and between diaspora members. It highlighted and demonstrated the potential of engaging with diasporas and the socio-economic, cultural and political impact in the respective countries of origin and destination of positive outreach measures.
The first global report on public attitudes towards migration presented startling figures: Europe tends to have more negative attitudes towards immigration while in most regions around the world people have more positive inclinations. Yet the number of people without any opinion indicates the opportunity to still shape and influence public thought. It was powerfully stated that efforts need to be done to dismantle misperceptions through evidence based discourse and balanced public policy debates.
Euromed partners, both North and South of the Mediterranean, showed an interest both in the work of ETTW member organizations and the ongoing projects of the association. The prospect of organizing a European expat/diaspora convention – possibly in 2018 – was actively supported by the organizers of the conference, the ICMPD. In discussions during the conference it was proposed to involve not only the Maltese government but also Irish, Portuguese and Baltic diaspora agencies in this project which is one of the ETTWs political priorities
The conference report will be circulated to members as soon as it is available.
Contact: Steen Illeborg: email@example.com
News from member organisations
Denmark – Danes Worldwide
A Danish language and culture course designed for Danes Worldwide
The Danish Cultural Institute in cooperation with Danes Worldwide is organizing a Danish language and culture course for adult relatives to Danes living and working abroad. The course participants are either non-Danish or Danes that do not have Danish as their mother tongue.
The course will take place 4 – 22 July 2016 at The Danish Cultural Institute in Copenhagen.
- To enable the participants to communicate in Danish
- To make the participants familiar with Danish grammar and pronunciation
- To give the participants and overall understanding of Danish culture in a contemporary and historical perspective
- To make the participants comfortable with being on their own in Denmark
- To give the participants interesting cultural experiences in Denmark
The Danish Cultural Institute will issue a diploma with a description of the course content.
Sweden – Swedes Worldwide
The Summer Program is ready
Swedes Worldwide is holding its annual summer program on August 23rd and 24th in Stockholm. Of special interest this year will be the address by the International Swede of the Year 2016, which will be given during the conference on August 23rd. This year`s recipient of the prize is Stefan de Mistura (of double Swedish-Italian citizenship) and his address will be held in English. Stefan de Mistura has a lifelong career as diplomat and government member. In May 2014 he was named president of the board of governors for the European Institute of Peace (an EU-backed NGO) in Brussels.
On 10 July 2014, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban KI-moon appointed de Mistura as the new special envoy tasked with seeking a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria.
Board members of ETTW are warmly invited to attend. Please, let the organisers know if any of you has the possibility to attend that day or the following day at the Prize ceremony and luncheon at grand Hotel in Stockholm.
Contact: Karin Ehnbom-Palmquist firstname.lastname@example.org
News from Partner organisations and other sources
Postal voting in 2019 national elections for expatriate Finns
The Government of Finland decided in April 2016 at its meeting for the government’s budget framework for 2017-2021, that it allocates 1,12 million euro funding for years 2018-2019 for preparations to adopt letter voting (postal voting) in national elections for expatriate Finns. The plan is to use postal ballot for the first time during the elections of the parliament of Finland in 2019 (foreseen for April 2019). This enhances greatly the possibility of those Finnish nationals who live abroad permanently or temporarily, to participate in national elections.
In the wake of the decision, the Ministry of Justice can start preparations for postal ballot by launching the preparation of the bill and related required changes in information systems.
Finland Society and the Finnish Expatriate Parliament have for 15 years campaigned for allowing postal ballot to expatriate Finns. The voting percentage of expats Finns have remained in the low 8 – 12 %. The reasons to this are chiefly long and expensive journeys to voting places, especially in geographically vast countries. The right to vote is held by over 242 000 Finnish nationals abroad.
Postal voting is in use at least in 47 countries, among others in Sweden. After its adoption, the voting percentage of expatriate Swedes has risen from about 8 – 10 % to the figure of 41 % in the latest elections in Sweden.
Contact: Sini Castrén, parliament secretary, Finnish Expatriate Parliament: email@example.com
Voting rights for all
More than 18 percent of the Berliners will be excluded from the elections to Berlin’s City Parliament in September this year. The fact that the voting right is connected to the national citizenship prevents them from expressing their democratic right. The Berliner alliance “Voting rights for all” will again put the public’s attention to this injustice and takes part in the Berlin Open Air youth forum, 1st July. We will discuss this issue with representatives of the Berliner political parties and welcome you at our action stand at Mariannenplatz, starting midday. Come visit us and support our action! Find out more here.
Contact: Citizens for Europe
Swiss abroad Congress
94th Congress of the Swiss Abroad from 5 to 7 August 2016 in Bern
Theme: “Switzerland in the World”
To mark the centenary of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), the 94th Congress of the Swiss Abroad will be held in Berne from 5 to 7 August 2016. As usual, the meeting of delegates of the Council of the Swiss Abroad will take place on Friday. The Swiss from within and those abroad are invited to participate in the centennial celebrations to be held on Parliament Square in the presence of Federal Councilor Didier Burkhalter. The rich program will offer different activities on partner stands but also appointments with musical highlights and spectacular excursions.
At www.ose-congres.ch you find all the information regarding the conference registration, hotel reservations and the purchase of a Swiss Travel Pass Flex at a very attractive price.
We look forward to welcoming you in Bern and thank you in advance for sending us your registration in time (registration deadline: July 5, 2016).
Croatian World Congress (CWC) News
New Chapters of CWC in South America
Recently CWC has established new branches in South America, as a part of a plan to expand activities in that part of the world. Peru and Ecuador have been added to the list, totalling eight countries where CWC is represented.
South America represents one of the oldest ‘colonies’, to which Croats have migrated in large numbers over the centuries – Argentina and Chile are among the largest communities. The biggest wave of migrants happened in between the two World Wars, mainly for economic reasons. The second wave after the Second World War was for reasons political as well.
Ties with the mother country have taken a giant leap forward from 1992 with the establishment of the Republic of Croatia and with the encouragement for people of Croatian descent to visit the country. This is particularly true when it comes to younger generations, keen to discover the country of their forbearers.
Meeting of the South American Diaspora
A meeting was held in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, from 28 to 30 of April 2016. Present were representatives of five Latin American countries among them representatives of CWC, representing a nearly 600.000 strong community of Croatian descent. The meeting had the support of the Croatian Ambassador who was also present at the meeting.
Main points of discussion were: political- social problems of the Croatian Diaspora; the spread of Croatian culture and language; a round table on business. Next meeting is scheduled for next year in Chile.
Contact: Council of the Government for the Croats abroad:
Joe McHugh replaces Jimmy Deenihan as new diaspora minister in Ireland
Joe McHugh has been appointed the Irish government’s new minister of state with responsibility for the diaspora. McHugh succeeds Jimmy Deenihan, who lost his Dáil seat in the February general election.
McHugh, a member of Fine Gael, is a former junior minister with responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources. He was at one point a participant in the Irish Echo/Belfast Media Group Golden Bridges conference in Boston.
The appointment in 2014 of Jimmy Deenihan as the first ever Minister of State for Diaspora Affairs was a tangible demonstration of Ireland’s commitment to and value placed on Irish people living overseas, their children and their children’s children. Minister Deenihan worked to ensure the publication of the first ever Global Irish Diaspora Policy and played a very important role in the successful Global Irish Civic Forum at Dublin Castle in 2015.
Basque emigration and the Basque Congress in Argentina
The history of Basque emigration and the Basque Congress in Argentina has now been studied and described in a newly released book titled “Somos Vasco-Argentinos” ( “We are Basque-Argentinean”). The book is part of the Urazandi collection, published by the Basque Government, where Magdalena Mignaburu and Josu Legarreta address an issue which, despite its large interest, has been little studied. It covers the mid-nineteenth century until the early twentieth century, when the greatest migration of the Basque Country and South East to America occured. During this period, the main destinations of Basque immigrants were, in this order: Argentina, Uruguay and Cuba.
From a historical point of view, Argentina is the main destination of the Basque emigration. Even today, the Basques in this country continue to form the largest and most important community in our Diaspora.
Throughout the book of Magdalena Mignaburu and Josu Legarreta, we learn that unlike other communities, Basque-Argentinians have never fallen into the irreversible process of dilution or loss of their identity. On the contrary, the Basque community in Argentina has kept the traditions, customs and democratic principles of their social organization.
Contact : Meaurio Antón, Jose Manuel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Letter to David Cameron on behalf of EU citizens in the UK and Brits in Europe
Dear Prime Minister,
Thank you for your assurances this morning to EU citizens who have built their lives in the UK and UK citizens living elsewhere in the European Union.
We urge you to go beyond your statement that nothing is going to change immediately.
EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens resident in other EU member states need to know now that their long term position and that of their families is secure.
As an organisation that represents the interests of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU we call on you to secure the necessary safeguards and commitments from EU members states, and from all parties represented in the House of Commons as soon as possible.
We also ask you to use your position as the out-going party leader to secure such a commitment from the candidates in the Conservative party leadership election once these names are known
EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in other EU member states took the decision to build their livelihoods outside their home member states on the basis that their rights to freedom of movement were secure.
The referendum outcome is now creating real and avoidable anxiety and suffering on the part of individuals and families who have the right to know that they are still welcome and that their future is assured.
If you would like to add your name and organisation to this letter please add your name and email address below:
American Citizens Abroad (ACA)
Many US banks are now closing the accounts of Americans who live overseas due to European legislation. This leaves many Americans in a predicament in that they need State-side accounts (to pay their US taxes!) but can’t maintain bank accounts State-side. Some banks are also closing accounts because these same Americans no longer have a qualified US residential address (no PO boxes). ACA has now solved the problem by offering Americans living outside the United States, State-side banking services via the State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU). Now Americans overseas can get a full range of banking products (IRAs, checking and savings accounts, mortgages, lines of credit) and they can use their foreign addresses (no US residential address needed). To see how ACA has fixed this problem, please visit this link: https://www.americansabroad.org/sdfcu-account/
Priorities of the Slovak Presidency
The programme and priorities of the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU are expected to be approved by the Slovak Government in June 2016.
For the time being, the main document in terms of content is the framework for our Presidency programme as approved in late February 2016. The framework sets out several themes that will be of central importance during our Presidency:
- economic growth,
- Digital Single Market,
- the creation of an Energy Union,
- EU enlargement.
As Presidency, Slovakia will further the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union that will help increase competitiveness. Negotiations about the Union’s budget for 2017 and the building of the Capital Markets Union will also feature high on the economic agenda.
When it comes to building the digital market, Slovakia will prioritise the elimination of barriers to digital economy, the facilitation of the use of electronic services and access to the market, the availability of electronic content, as well as a high level of consumer protection.
In the area of migration, the Slovak Presidency will aim, first and foremost, at the implementation of the EU external border protection policy and at the integrity of the Schengen Area. The Presidency is planning to prioritise positive agenda such as the Smart Borders package, which seeks to contribute to the fight against irregular migration and speed up passenger processing times through the use of modern technologies.
Hotbeds of tension in the EU’s neighbourhood are also among the challenges facing the Union. As the EU’s enlargement policy represents the most effective instrument of positive change in this regard, Slovakia will seek to maintain the momentum and credibility of this process.
Have your say on EU Policy
The European Commission has just published a number of roadmaps that could be of interest for your organization. Roadmaps for new major initiatives describe the problem to be tackled and the objectives to be achieved, explain why EU action is needed and its added value and outline alternative policy options.
The Roadmaps concern many policy areas of interest for member organisations, such as:
- Consumer Affairs
- Employment and Social Affairs
- Justice and Fundamental Rights
- Information Society
- Home Affairs
To consult all the existing roadmaps please refer to the following website:
If you represent an organisation or are a self-employed individual carrying out activities influencing the policy and decision-making processes of the EU institutions, you can be informed when new roadmaps are published by subscribing to the EU Transparency Register.
New job opportunities, more integration courses and new rules on housing: Germany’s new integration law is on its way towards final approval – but is not without its critics and shortcomings.
The German cabinet has finally adopted the new law, which may still go before the Bundestag and the Bundesrat, the German council, before the summer break. Chancellor Merkel labelled the development as a “milestone”.
The 100,000 one-Euro-jobs are an alternative to doing nothing it was said at a press conference called to launch the new law. The scheme, which does not allow participants to hold other jobs, is intended to improve language skills and help people forge contacts in the German labour market or those with little or no prospects of being able to stay in Germany. It was explained that these jobs are to help tide people over. Moreover, the state may reward those who quickly integrate. When someone can speak German well and mostly support themselves, then after three years a residence permit can be granted.
At the press conference further funding and measures for integration courses were also announced. The number of hours will be extended to 100 and the teaching of values will be given an even greater focus. An initiative by the family affairs minister, Manuela Schwesig, will prioritise the role of women in society and equality.
- 24-25 June – Congress of Romanians abroad, Bucharest
It is the first of this kind, and a good opportunity for Romanian’s diaspora to get together and interconnect with each other:
- 29 June – ETTW Board meeting, Brussels
- 29 June – ETTW Conference on “I-voting”, European Parliament, Brussels
- 30 June – 1 July Meeting of the General Council of CWC, Zagreb
This is the annual event when delegates of Croatian World Congress from around the world gather in one place to review past activities and plan new ones. On the agenda is to bring more of younger people , to get a greater variety of representation on the Executive, balancing the widespread location of the Croatian Diaspora.
- 8 July – 10th Meeting of World Lithuanian Youth
The third Meeting of World Lithuanian Youth 2016 will take place on July 8-10, 2016 in „Harmony park”. Lithuanian Youth 2016 will be covering subjects within the areas of business, politics, science and culture. A couple of dozen of spaces hosting keynote speeches, discussions, career and contact fairs, live concerts, workshops, sports tournaments and other activities will be open during the four-day event.
Contact: Kotryna Stankute email@example.com
Contributions to ETTW News Service from Member organisations and partners are welcome to the ETTW News Editor: Ylva Tivéus firstname.lastname@example.org Next edition: September 29 with deadline for contributions September 20 c.o.b.