Letmevote’s Catriona Seth, a member of the citizen’s committee of the ECI Let me vote, gave an interview to Letmevote’s fellow ECI Fratenite 2020 in December 2012.
Synergies between F2020 and Let me Vote: Catriona Seth
Catriona Seth is a Professor in 18th-century French studies at the Université de Lorraine and she has published widely on Enlightenment literature and the history of ideas. She is also on the citizen’s committee of the ECI Let me vote, which she is introducing in this interview.
– WHY DO YOU SUPPORT FRATERNITĖ 2020?
I support Fraternité 2020 because of its aims. As an academic, I try to encourage my students to participate in exchanges. Erasmus has been of huge importance in fostering understanding between participating individuals and institutions and in opening new horizons for many young people. As an individual, I have drawn great benefits from living in different European countries whose ties have been reinforced thanks to the existence of the EU. As a private citizen, I believe that mobility is to be encouraged and that ECIs like “Fraternité 2020″ and “Let Me Vote” are ways of promoting it. More mobility means more understanding. More understanding means more solid grounding for our common future.
– DO YOU THINK F2020 CAN BE SUCCESSFUL?
Of course I do! I cannot think of anyone who could disagree with its fundamental ideas around exchange, education and solidarity. I also believe F2020 should gain huge impetus from being the first ECI to launch its online collection of signatures. It has got to succeed!
– DO YOU AGREE WITH F2020 THAT MOBILITY CAN LEAD TO ENHANCED EUROPEAN CITIZENSHIP AND ECONOMIC GROWTH?
For the EU to be perceived as a positive force for individuals, I think it needs to make decisions which can be seen to impact our lives in more than administrative ways. To encourage exchanges is to invite people to learn about how other Europeans live: we are all different, but we are not foreigners in that we have a common culture as well as the specific culture, language, customs etc. of our home towns, regions and states. EU nationals who study, live and work in another EU country bring their cultural capital with them and learn from the land in which they are. This increases immaterial wealth but also economic growth. Most European nationals who live in the EU but outside their home state contribute both to their home country and to their host nation at once as economic players and as de facto goodwill ambassadors.
– YOU ARE ON THE CITIZEN’S COMMITTEE OF “LET ME VOTE”, ANOTHER EUROPEAN CITIZEN’S INITIATIVE. WHAT IS IT ABOUT AND WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?
“Let me vote” (http://www.letmevote.eu) has a lot in common with F2020: it is also about mobility and a desire to foster peace and understanding within the EU. Our aim is to obtain full voting rights for EU nationals in the country in which they live. Currently, for instance, if you are Greek and live outside Greece but within the EU, you can only vote in local and European elections. You are partially disenfranchised. There are many other examples of people who contribute culturally and economically to the EU, exercising their right to mobility, and cannot vote in any national elections. I have British citizenship but live and work in France and I do not have voting rights in UK general elections. Though I pay taxes in France and, indeed, work for the French State, I am not allowed to vote in the French regional or presidential elections. Governments come and go in France and I have no democratic right to have my say. Surely being deprived of the right to vote in national elections simply because one is exercising one’s right to mobility is unacceptable: it is a democratic wrong.
Our chief challenge at “Let me vote” is that we are a group of individuals, brought together by a common belief in the importance of the EU and the need to give meaning to true European citizenship. We have no budget, no lobby, no staff, just our goodwill and spare time. We are a citizens’ initiative in the fullest sense of the word. Reaching a million signatures will be an uphill struggle but we believe we can make it!
-WHAT DO YOU THINK THE TOOL OF ECI BRINGS TO EUROPEAN DEMOCRACY?
The ECI as a tool has huge political importance: each and everyone of us can -theoretically at least as there are some issues about signing possibilities for certain EU citizens who live outside their home state- directly influence EU policy. The EU has often been seen as too distant from the people. ECIs mean direct participatory democracy and this needs to be encouraged. Anything which makes European citizenship more tangible has to be a good thing!
Thank you very much.