POLITICAL UPDATE No. 3
[level-registered-users]March 16, 2014
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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]