The Thessaloniki Declaration of 2002:
Thessaloniki Round – Follow Up
EUROPEAN CITIZENS IN THE WORLD
4 – 6 October 2002
2 The Aim
3 The Conclusions
4 The Recommendations
5 The Follow up
5.1 The Policy Paper :“Towards an organised European Diaspora”
5.2 Brussels Symposium – 2 & 3 February 2004
” Citizenship of the European Expatriates”
Thessaloniki Round – Follow Up
- 1. Who
“The Europeans Throughout the World” for many years has been concerned with the rights and obligations of European citizens living temporary or permanently in another country than their own. Over the years there have been important developments. There however are continuing many issues which require attention and where “The Europeans Throughout the World” should act as a spokesman for the expatriate Europeans.
During a two day conference, organised in Thessaloniki, Greece, by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs in co-operation with the confederation of the ‘The European Throughout the World’, representatives of 12 national expatriates’ associations from the EU Member States, the European Commission, the consular corps in Thessaloniki, and other associated organisations, met to discuss a series of issues related to expatriate European citizens, living within and outside the EU space.
Greek Hosts- Greeks Experience
The Greek experience in this field is very important. There are at least 7 million Greeks abroad, in favor of whom Greece has adopted the appropriate legal instruments, having also established effective and efficient Institutions. This experience was an additional reason, which enhanced the contribution of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Thessaloniki Conference.
(The Conference expressed its appreciation to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in particular to the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ioannis Magriotis. Appreciation was also expressed to the Secretary General for Greeks Abroad, Mr. Demetri Dollis for the key role he played in preparing and hosting this Conference on “The European Citizens in the World” in Thessaloniki.).
- 2. The Aim
The purpose of this event was to explore the possibilities of launching a dialogue between the E.U. Institutions, the E.U. Member – States and the E.U. civil society (NGOs), aiming at fostering a specific, concrete, comprehensive and applicable common policy dealing with the particularities of the expatriate European citizens residing and working on a temporary or a permanent basis outside their country of origin either within the E.U. space or in a third country. They could be estimated at approximately 35 millions, that is to say the equivalent to the average population of an E.U. Member – State.
A series of topics were identified, presented and discussed. At the end of the conference the participants agreed on a set of recommendations and conclusions, and on an important policy paper “Towards a European Diaspora”.
- 3. The Conclusions
These conclusions should be considered in the formulation of a future European common policy for the European expatriates.
The conference also decided to bring these conclusions, together with other relevant documents to the attention by “The Europeans Throughout the World” to the European Convention, the European Parliament, the European Commission and other EU Institutions as well as the Council of Europe. All concerned Associations were invited to promote them to their National Parliaments and Governments.
Solidarity with the Expatriate Europeans
Formal Ties between Europe and the Expatriate Europeans
- There is a need for the MemberStates and the EU-Institutions to formally recognise in appropriate instruments, the EU solidarity with their expatriate citizens, wherever they are found in the world
- There is a need for the EU-Institutions and the MemberStates to establish, in the medium term, a European Expatriate Body, as an interest organisation for all Europeans living abroad and with a recognised consultative role in relation to EU-Institutions. It may initially be created as an NGO or with an existing NGO.
- There is a call to the EU Member States, (who do not already have it), to include voting rights to national elections, for their citizens living abroad, in their legislation and to ensure that all information relating to such voting rights be effectively available to all people concerned. In order to facilitate the exercise of the voting rights for nationals abroad, their voting may be performed by postal vote.
- There is a need for some EU Member States, to introduce national regulations and legislation in such a way that original national citizens preserve and have the right to maintain their national citizenship even if they acquire citizenship in another country. And conversely that those who acquire citizenship in a MemberState, as far as possible, preserve their original citizenship
- There is a need for the EU-institutions and the MemberStates to secure more adequate measures for the security and safeguarding of the Europeans throughout the world in addition to the existing consular protection.
- There is a need to the EU Institutions to incorporate the European diaspora in the formulation of a common foreign policy.
Social and Fiscal Issues
- There is a need for the EU-institutions (and/or MemberStates) to ensure agreements with third countries for allowing those Europeans convicted to a prison term abroad, to serve their terms in a penal institution in their home country for humanitarian reasons in order to facilitate the re-socialisation process.
- There is a need for the EU and Member States to resolve through appropriate legislation, difficulties of (unemployed) spouses (to expatriate workers) in third countries and their situation with regard to social security, including old-age pensions from their country of origin while residing abroad or upon return to the home country.
- There is a need for the EU, MemberStates and relevant industry, etc. to recognise the need to and facilitate access to employment for spouses of persons seconded to work outside their own country, be it in or outside the EU.
- There is a need for the European Commission and/or the European Parliament to maintain or strengthen a permanent observatory on the myriad of individual issues, notably in the social areas facing expatriate European citizens within the EU and in this connection be prepared for the expected increase of number of individual cases following the coming enlargement of the EU.
- There is a need for the EU-Institutions and for the Member States to ensure a fair and equal taxation system for Europeans expatriates within the EU area.
Education, Cultural and Youth Issues
- There is a need for the EU and all Member States to formally recognise that education in their own language and culture constitute a right for children and young people of European expatriate families or of European origin, and take all necessary steps to ensure this right. This should be done wherever they are located in the world, be it on a temporary or permanent basis. Moreover ensure that such education include a clear European dimension
- Call the EU-Institutions and the MemberStates to examine the possibilities for establishing European Schools using the existing European Schools as a model at locations throughout the world where a large number of potential pupils are found or to include a true European curriculum in existing schools.
- Call the EU-Institutions and the MemberStates to reinforce agreements with third countries on mutual academic recognition of diplomas and study periods in order to remove obstacles to mobility
- Call the EU-Institutions and the MemberStates to promote a common cultural policy within and outside the EU borders, combining efforts and resources and promoting the European culture and identity whenever feasible throughout EUROPEAN CULTURAL HOUSE.
Taking into consideration all the above the Conference drafted a series of recommendations for the dissemination and follow up of these conclusions to the appropriate bodies, governments, Parliaments and institutions in national and European level.
- 4. The Recommendations
- Fully supports the conclusions drawn up during the two – day working session.
- Kindly requests the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to inform through diplomatic channels, the E.U. Member-States’ Governments and Parliaments on the outcome of the present Conference, making, simultaneously, an effort, during the forthcoming Greek E.U. Presidency, to create favorable conditions for building up consensus on this initiative.
- Calls upon the Member Associations of “The Europeans Throughout the World” to launch a campaign in their own countries with a view to persuade their Governments
- and Parliaments of the need that the latter should take all the appropriate steps so that the spirit of the Conference be kept alive and be further promoted within the E.U. Institutions.
- In this respect, also stresses the need that the Confederation of “The Europeans Throughout the World” make the necessary demarches in Brussels to high – ranking officials of the E.U. Member – States and the E.U. Institutions and contact the European Convention headed by Mr. Giscard D’Estaing, former President of the FrenchRepublic.
- Strongly recommends that a follow up meeting be hosted and organised next year by another E.U. Member – State in co-operation with the “The Europeans Throughout the World” to specify the fields of action and the measures that should be taken to this end.
- Urges the E.U. Institutions and in particular the European Parliament to set up the soonest possible, an expert group with the aim to examine the feasibility of introducing the European expatriates issues as an item on the E.U. political agenda.
- Calls for the establishment of an interim structure (Secretariat) in Brussels by the “Europeans Throughout the World” to develop the working programme and the agenda of the next meeting as well as to prepare an action plan for the way ahead of the Thessaloniki initiative.
- Finally appeals to the distinguished participants in Thessaloniki Conference to maintain the gained momentum and, through all their means, to give a new impetus to this initiative, the first of its kind.
- 5. The Follow up
5.1 The Policy Paper :
“Towards an organised European Diaspora”
5.2 Brussels Symposium – Feb.04
The conference results have been brought to the attention of the relevant national and European authorities.
“The Europeans Throughout the World” moreover has taken new actions to follow up on the issues discussed at the Thessaloniki conference and they organise a
In Brussels on 2 – 3 February 2004
On” Citizenship of the European Expatriates”
Sponsored by the
VIW – UFBE
At The European Economic and Social Committee
Salle Mont des Arts, 2 rue Ravenstein.
The Stockholm Declaration of 2009:
Stockholm, 14th May 2009
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of their founding, The Europeans throughout the World, the confederation of associations of European expatriates, meeting in Stockholm at the kind invitation of the Federation Swedes Abroad, recalls that citizens of the European Union living in another country than their own throughout the world are estimated to number between 60 and 80 million, thus together forming the equivalent of a large member state, make very substantial contributions to Europe’s presence in the world, and should be considered a great asset for Europe.
The Europeans throughout the World
urges European national governments and the institutions of the European Union, particularly the European Parliament,
- to give political and practical recognition and support to this large body of citizens, many of whom have a very high degree of international mobility, consistent with and often a consequence of the progress of the EU and their professional and societal role within it;
- to act upon the following recommendations, which proceed from over fifty-five years of experience of the EU and twenty-five years of action, and which also build upon and extend the Paris Declaration adopted at the Meeting of European Citizens resident outside their country of origin in Paris on 30 September 2008.
Voting rights – all expatriate European citizens should be given specific national and EU-level representation in order that their voices may be properly heard and their concerns, specific to their condition as expatriates, properly taken into account:
- All EU citizens should be given the right to vote in their national elections at national and regional level, and practical arrangements made to facilitate the convenience to the citizen, wherever he or she resides in the world, for example through proxy, postal and/or electronic voting mechanisms.
- All EU citizens should be given the right to choose to vote in European Parliament elections in their country of residence or of one of their EU nationalities, and practical arrangements made to facilitate the convenience to the citizen, wherever he or she resides in the world.
All EU citizens should be given the right to possess and to gain or regain multiple nationalities to which they may have a claim, given the fundamental nature of nationality to the citizen and his or her means of livelihood.
Diplomatic and consular protection
- Full and uniform protection should be ensured to all EU citizens through the network of EU member states’ embassies and consulates throughout the world, irrespective of their nationalities and countries of residence.
- This should extend especially to prisoners, who are often particularly vulnerable – judicial proceedings in third countries should be closely monitored and full defence of the accused ensured. Wherever possible they should be able to purge their sentence in (one of) their own country(ies).
The right of patients to treatment in the country of their choice, regardless of the country(ies) in which they have paid their state and/or private health insurance contributions, should be ensured in practice, in line with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice.
The acquisition of state and supplementary pensions should be ensured in practice, and their payment ensured from the age of retirement, to all expatriate EU citizens, wherever they reside in the world, and existing EU legislation enforced and extended. Cases of multiple taxation need to be removed. Particular attention should be given to the situation of people who have followed their spouses abroad and may find their rights seriously curtailed.
The possibility of complementary education in one’s mother tongue should be extended to all children of expatriate EU citizens, allowing them to preserve the knowledge of their mother tongue and culture.
Mutual Recognition of Diplomas and Professional Training
There are many diplomas and professional qualifications of EU member states which are not recognised in other EU countries. The ongoing efforts towards mutual recognition should be intensified and extended to further fields.
- Expatriate EU citizens should be guaranteed a legally indisputable choice of competent jurisdictions and simplified access to these.
- Family law should be harmonised and enforced, particularly in the areas of the consequences of divorce for children.
- Contradictions and multiple taxation should be removed from the area of succession and inheritance.
“European Referent” in the national public services
A personalised “European Administrative Window” should be created within the national, regional and/or local administrations, fully aware of the legal and administrative aspects at EU level.
A European Commissioner and an Agency for expatriate Europeans
- Considering that the above concerns have not been fully addressed, we reiterate our recommendation that a Member of the European Commission should be given specific responsibility for expatriate EU citizens.
- All European Institutions should set up specific mechanisms to take account of the specific concerns of expatriate EU citizens.
An agency should be created to take up these concerns on a permanent basis. It should be charged with monitoring and furthering all the above concerns, and should be given appropriate means to carry out these tasks.
The Copenhagen Declaration of 2010:
The COPENHAGEN RECOMMENDATIONS
Voting rights and multiple citizenship, issues of major concern to expatriate European citizens, were
discussed during the Conference on European Citizens’ Rights hosted by the Europeans throughout the
World (ETTW) and Danes Worldwide, the association of Danes abroad, during the Danish Presidency
of the European Union, at the Europa House in Copenhagen on the 20th April 2012. It was recalled that
there are estimated to be 13 million EU citizens living abroad within the EU and a further 50 to 60 million
living outside the EU, the equivalent of a large member state.
There are considerable differences between the voting rights of expatriate European citizens from
different countries. Many EU member states do not extend the right to vote in EU parliamentary elections
to those living outside the EU, thus discriminating between European citizens. Further, many European
states do not allow their citizens living abroad to vote in their national elections, or remove voting rights
after a certain time abroad, thus depriving them of representation in their national Parliament.
The Conference also discussed the situations of citizens possessing or acquiring multiple nationalities by
birth, descent, marriage or naturalisation and the implications of allowing or prohibiting such multiple
The Conference recalls that 2013 is European Year of Citizenship, regrets the lack of action and progress
on these issues and calls upon all authorities at both EU and national levels to
• end discrimination between EU citizens based on their nationality and place of residence, in particular
concerning the vote and the right to representation in both national and European Parliament elections,
and make practical arrangements to facilitate the convenience of the citizen, wherever he or she resides
in the world, for example through proxy, postal or electronic voting mechanisms;
• explore the possibilities for EU member states to reserve seats for MEPs representing their expatriate
citizens outside the EU;
• end restrictions on multiple nationalities, resulting from birth, descent, marriage or naturalisation;
and renews the call for a Member of the European Commission to be given specific responsibility for
expatriate EU citizens and for an agency to be created to take up their concerns on a permanent basis.
Additional information and studies on voting rights and multiple nationalities as well as previous recommendations
on EU expatriate issues can be found on the website of the European throughout the World (www.euromonde.eu)
ETTW – The Europeans throughout the World is an international non-governmental federation of national associations for
residents abroad, founded in 1984 under Belgian private law. THE EUROPEANS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD serve the
more than thirteen million European nationals living in Europe in another country than their own and more than fifty million
Europeans living elsewhere in the world.
ETTW – Fondation Universitaire 11, rue d’Egmont B – 100