Tag Archives: civil society

Statement about EP2014 problems in UK

Statement by

European Movement UK

Labour Movement for Europe (LME)

European Alternatives

LetmevoteUK

Vote, you’re at home!

Liberal Democrat European Group (LDEG)

 

We are a group of initiatives and organisations who are working with EU citizens in different forms. All of us in some way work on projects of citizen engagement, voter participation and policy development. We try to empower and involve EU citizens, whether of British or other origin in issues around Europe and how Europe relates to local communities in the UK, some of us also in other countries.

 

Following the European Elections 2014 in the UK on 22 May 2014 we are concerned that there have been many reports of EU citizens in the UK not being able to vote in the elections.

 

Many who thought they had registered to vote, were turned away at polling stations being told they were not on the list for EP2014.

 

At the moment we are not clear what the source of the problem was, reports varied. There were more voter registration campaigns than ever targeting EU citizens, some of which we were directly involved in. Voters did need to get on the electoral register, then confirm individually in a 2nd form that they would vote in the European Elections in the UK rather than their home country.

 

It seems that many people who have lived here for years and voted previously, did miss or never receive the form from their Local Council to confirm they wanted to vote in the EP elections. Others report having got so many forms they submitted multiple times. Other received forms so often they did not return them as they thought they had registered already.

 

We assume a combination of factors led to electoral registration being too confusing for too many. This is out of line with our democratic principles. The UK has a good track record of enabling communities from different backgrounds to vote where they have the right to do so, and to not do this adequately for so many EU citizens who live and contribute to the UK society and economy at a time of general prejudice against these citizens seems at best unfortunate, and democratically not acceptable.

 

We are asking for the process to be looked into. Points of investigation are

 

  • if and when Councils explained the process adequately so EU citizens knew which steps to take

  • whether staff in polling stations had adequate information to know in which of the ballots EU citizens could vote, so they could resolve issues aside from just telling people if they were on the list or not

  • where there are reports which indicate prejudice against any EU citizens may have been expressed, specifically at polling stations in the form of unhelpful comments, this is also a point of concern

We call for the simplification of the process and suggest that we either return to the previous system or improve the form (which incorrectly stated that no further action is required) or adopting a different system that will deal adequately with the current problems.

 

2.5m EU citizens live in the UK and make up a significant part of our communities. Access to exercise their voting rights should be straight forward, and we hope our concern is noted, looked into and followed up with appropriate processes of investigation.

 

Petros Fassoulas, Chair European Movement UK www.euromove.org.uk

David Schoibl, Chair, Labour Movement for Europe (LME) www.labourmovement.eu

Noel Hatch, Co-Chair, European Alternatives www.euroalter.com

Susanne Kendler, UK Coordinator, LetmevoteUK www.letmevoteuk.org

Jakub Krupa, UK Coordinator, Vote, you’re at home! www.jusz.eu

George Dunk, Chair, Liberal Democrat Europe Group (LDEG) www.ldeg.org

 

The European Movement UK: The European Movement is a grassroots, cross-party, independent organisation, set up in 1950 and campaigning since then to inform the debate around the benefits of EU membership. In preparation for EP2014 the European Movement offered registration information through its registration campaign website http://vote2014uk.org.uk/

 

Labour Movement for Europe (LME) is a membership and campaigning organisation and Socialist Society affiliated to the Labour Party. Since 2008 it has been running voter registration campaigns among EU citizen communities in the UK and has many EU citizens among its membership and volunteers. The LME works to improve the quality of debate about Europe in the Labour Party and beyond.

 


European Alternatives (EA) is a transnational civil society organisation and citizens movement promoting democracy, equality and culture beyond the nation state. European Alternatives organises a wealth of activities, campaigns, and projects, including public events and the annual TRANSEUROPA Festival, research, activities promoting active citizenship, youth projects, campaigns and publications.

 

Letmevote UK is part of Letmevote EU, an independent citizens’ group promoting active citizenship in the EU. Letmevote promotes voter registration and participation of all EU citizens, including mobile EU citizens, who live and work in other EU countries than the one they come from. LetmevoteUK believes in a Europe of the people, of its citizens, and of active communities.

 

Vote, you’re at home! is a non-partisan joint initiative by School for Leaders, Polish City Club London, Forum Polonia Ireland and more than 30 associated organisations of Polish expats living in the United Kingdom, encouraging Poles living in this country to be active in local communities and political processes.

 

The Liberal Democrat Europe Group (LDEG) is the association for UK Liberal Democrat members and activists who are interested in European politics. As a group, LDEG provides a forum for the discussion of European political issues with a focus on the European Union and Britian’s role in the EU. The group also promotes a greater understanding of European political affairs.

The Green 10 Top Ten Demands of the EP

The Green 10 are ten of the largest environmental organisations and networks active on the European level. They coordinate joint responses and recommendations to EU decision makers. Membership of the Green 10 alone is more than 20 million people.

They work with the EU law-making institutions – the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers – to ensure that the environment is placed at the heart of policy-making. This includes working with their individual member organisations around Europe to facilitate their input into the EU decision-making process.

The Green 10 have published their top ten demands for the 2014 European Parliament election.

green10_demands_2014

These are the member organisations of Green10

BirdLife Europe | CEE Bankwatch Network | Climate Action Network Europe | European Environmental Bureau | Friends of the Earth Europe | Greenpeace European Unit | Health and Environment Alliance | Naturefriends International | Transport and Environment | WWF

 

 

 

European Youth Forum for EP2014

The European Youth Forum (YFJ) is the platform of youth organisations in Europe. Representing 99 youth organisations, both National Youth Councils and International Non-Governmental Youth Organisations, we believe youth organisations are the tool through which we empower, encourage, involve, represent, reach out and support young people. The Youth Forum brings together tens of millions of young people from all over Europe, organised in order to represent their common interests. – See more at: http://www.youthforum.org/european-youth-form/#sthash.N4CdWkNy.dpuf

Ahead of the EP2014 Elections the European Youth Forum has launched its LoveYouthFuture Pledges, which show how the EU can love its young people, both now and in the future.

Click the image to get to the LoveYouthFuture Pledges and the campaign website, which holds a wealth of additional information

european youth forum_EP2014

European Women’s Lobby (EWL) for EP2014

Founded in 1990 with 12 national member organisations, the European Women’s Lobby is one of the oldest and best established European-level civil society NGOs. Over the last 20 years, EWL membership has grown steadily to reach more than 2500 organisations across 31 European countries.

The EWL’s mission is to promote real and effective equality between women and men, in all spheres of public and private life, across the EU. This mission is founded on a vision of a peaceful and democratic European Union built on a culture of respect for human rights, equality, peace and solidarity.

Achieving substantive equality between women and men, promoting women’s rights and empowering women should be a priority of the European Union (EU) and its Member States. the EWL sees gender equality as an essential part of democracy, social justice, human rights and dignity. The European Parliament (EP) has the power and responsibility to create meaningful change towards equality for all, now and in the future.

The EWL’s Manifesto “Act now for her future, commit to gender equality!” comprises the main demands of the European Women’s Lobby, the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the EU. The EWL Manifesto makes three general and five policy-specific demands:

  • A comprehensive framework to achieve gender equality
  • Sustainable funding for gender equality
  • Credible EU policies on gender equality at international level
  • Women’s economic independence
  • Parity democracy
  • A caring society
  • A Europe free from violence against women
  • Diverse in equality

Download and read the full manifesto by clicking on the image:

european womens lobby

Also check out their election website to find out all about EWL’s accompanying campaigns and which MEP candidates have signed up to the Manifesto so far: http://bit.ly/RmBhWe

 

European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) EP2014

EPHA is a change agent – Europe’s leading NGO advocating for better health. We are a dynamic member-led non-profit association registered in Belgium. EPHA is made up of public health NGOs, patient groups, health professionals, and disease groups working together to improve health and strengthen the voice of public health in Europe. EPHA is a member of, among others, the Social Platform, the European Public Health and Agriculture Consortium (EPHAC), the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), and the EU Civil Society Contact Group.

EPHA introduce their EP2014 election materials with this statement: ‘The last five years have been difficult for many people living in Europe. Unemployment, cuts to social support, lack of access to finance and the impacts of austerity have taken their toll on people, their health and their faith in the political processes and even democracy. In its Manifesto for the European Parliament elections, the European Public Health Alliance calls on political parties and individual Members of the European Parliament (MEP) candidates to ensure that health and well-being in Europe are ranked as high as they are valued.’

 

EPHA image

EPHA continues saying:

Quote: ‘The 2014-2019 legislative term presents the opportunity for the European Parliament to repeat its commitment to the well-being and health of people living in Europe by pushing these priorities up the political agenda. As we have seen, the European project has been under threat, but bringing the activities of the European Union in line with the priorities of its people is essential for both a democratically accountable Europe, as well as one that genuinely builds an economy which serves its people and the environment they live in.

We need strong leadership and a strong vision to reconnect European citizens to decision-making processes in the EU. Health, including mental health, is consistently identified among top areas of concern for European populations: to demonstrate the relevance of the EU to its citizens, Europe must deliver on the issues that matter to citizens, and not just to markets.’

This is EPHA’s EP2014 page: http://www.epha.org/a/5962

 

European Network Against Racism (ENAR) EP2014

ENAR is a pan-European anti-racist network that combines advocacy for racial equality and facilitating cooperation among civil society anti-racist actors in Europe. The organisation was set up in 1998 by grassroots activists on a mission to achieve legal changes at European level and make decisive progress towards racial equality in all EU Member States. Since then, ENAR has grown and achieved a great deal.

Parties and politicians using and propagating far-right and xenophobic ideas and programmes are getting stronger. Right-wing populist parties could make significant gains in the next EU elections, with some polls suggesting they could win up to 25% of seats in the next European Parliament.

In this context, we need to ensure that as many political parties and politicians as possible commit to equality and refrain from discriminatory and xenophobic discourses, behaviours and policies. Encouraging people to vote for diversity and equality and against discrimination and xenophobic discourses can also make a difference. Only by actually voting can our concerns be heard and our rights protected.

ENAR are asking candidates and political parties to commit to their top 7 demands to advance equality in the European Union

They also run the #NoHateEP2014 campaign. For this, they have joined forces with ILGA-Europe (European Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association). The purpose of the #NoHateEP2014 campaign is to denounce and monitor hate speech by candidates and encourage EU citizens to vote.

Find all about ENAR’s work ahead of EP2014 here: http://www.enar-eu.org/European-Parliament-Elections

 

European Disability Forum EP2014 Manifesto

The European Disability Forum is an independent NGO that represents the interests of 80 million Europeans with disabilities. EDF is the only European platform run by persons with disabilities and their families. EDF was created in 1996 by its member organisations to make sure decisions concerning disabled people are taken with and by disabled people.

Through its manifesto on the EU elections 2014, EDF calls on candidates MEPs and political parties to include the following priorities into their electoral programmes for the European elections 2014. Key points from the Manifesto are:

1. The promotion of a vision of an inclusive, sustainable and democratic Europe

EDF urges the EU to move away from the austerity policy and bring back people, inclusion, solidarity, equality and democratic legitimacy at the heart of its action. That is the only way to restore citizens’ trust.

2. The reform of Europe’s economic and social policies to ensure the protection and enjoyment of human rights of Europeans with disabilities

Due to unprecedented cuts in social spendings, millions of persons with disabilities are thrown into poverty and social exclusion. Social services are essential in enabling persons with disabilities to live independently and to participate fully in society, which are rights guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities – to which the EU is party, along with 25 Member States.

The EU must adopt new objectives concerning persons with disabilities in the upcoming review of the Europe 2020 Strategy – the only way to avoid its failure and mainstream disability rights in the European Semester process to esnure the protection and enjoyment of human rights for Europeans with disabilities.

3. Making goods and services accessible for all through:

the European Accessibility Act,a much-awaited EU legislation on the accessibility of goods and services in the EU internal market;
the proposed EU Directive on the accessibility of public websites;
accessibility of transport services and infrastructure;
– removing
obstacles to free movement for persons with disabilities and their families;
– making
EU funds barrier-free for persons with disabilities.

4. The adoption of the proposed general non-discrimination directive, a much-anticipated EU law

EDF urges the EU to adopt the proposed Directive, as amended by the European Parliament, which aims to protect persons with disabilities (amongst other groups) against discrimination in all areas of life outside of employment.

5. The swift ratification by the EU and by all Member states of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The EU and some Member States, despite being party to the UN Convention, are still expected to ratify the Optional Protocol, which introduces important procedures to strengthen the implementation of the Convention.

6. The establishment of mechanisms within EU institutions to mainstream the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities while ensuring the involvement of persons with disabilities

The EU has a pro-active duty to implement the Convention both in terms of its own internal work, but also in reviewing and modifying all existing laws and practices that discriminate against people with disabilities, and in shaping new legislation, policies and programmes in line with the Convention.

Please find the full Manifesto here:

EDF Manifesto 2014

Coface – Manifesto for Families in Europe

The Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE) is a pluralistic organisation, at the heart of civil society, which aims at promoting family policy, solidarity between generations and the interests of children within the European Union. With 58 member organisations across 22 Member States of the European Union, COFACE gives a voice to many millions of families at EU level.

COFACE is convinced that the European Parliament does have power in a large number of important areas that impact our everyday lives, and those of families living in Europe.

By clicking on this link you can find out more about the organisations’ positions for the European Elections 2014.

COFACE have also published their main Manifesto for the European Elections:

#FamiliesVOTE2014 publication “Helping you make your choice for the 2014 European Parliament Elections”.

Familiesvote front_sm

This publication brings concrete information of the big political groups to the attention of voters to boost citizens’ knowledge and understanding on what the EU can and will do for families’ well-being. It compares the various family policies of the Political Groups in the Parliament concerning the following social policy areas:

1. Jobs
2. Work-Life Balance
3. Family Carers, Disability or long-term illness in the Family
4. Housing
5. Energy
6. Migrant and Transnational Families
7. Financial Inclusion and the impact on families

COFACE’s analysis covers the main political groups: the European People’s Parts (EPP), the Socialists & Democrats (S&D), the Greens and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group. Not all of our questions received an answer from each group.

 

 

EuroCarers Manifesto EP2014

The role of carers is more crucial than ever due to demographic changes and challenges to formal health and social care services throughout Europe. Eurocarers brings together organisations representing carers and those involved in research and development.

Eurocarers lists these EU facts in their manifesto:

80% of care across the EU is provided by informally spouses, relatives and friends – usually unpaid.
These carers will become even more important as the number of older people is increasing.
The economic value of unpaid informal care – as a percentage of the overall cost of formal long-term care provision – ranges from 50 % to 90 % across the EU.
Caring can be a source of personal satisfaction and emotional gratification….
…but it can also have challenging health, financial, social and employment consequences.
The increasing labour market participation of the main carers, i.e. women and older workers and other demographic developments are leading to decreasing availability of carers.
Carers cannot do their work without proper recognition and support (in policy and practice).

All Member States face the same challenges in terms of long-term care provision.
All Member States need the informal care resource to prevent social security systems collapsing.

Eurocarers’ Manifesto for EP2014 gives guidance to MEP candidates how they can support carers should they be elected to the European Parliament.

European Anti-Poverty Network Manifesto – EAPN

The EAPN’s EP2014 campaign is called Campaign for a Social Europe.  The European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) is the largest European network of national, regional and local networks, involving anti-poverty NGOs and grassroots groups as well as European Organisations, active in the fight against poverty and social exclusion. It was established in 1990.

EAPN hopes to mobilize hundreds of European, national and local organizations.

It calls on European Parliament Candidates to make the fight against poverty, social exclusion and inequalities a priority item on the European agenda. It also asks citizens to come out and vote!

Several MEPs have committed to and signed EAPN’s pledge. Follow the hashtag #electingchampions on twitter to find out who is signing as the election campaign goes on.

Despite the European Target on poverty set by the Europe 2020 Strategy to lift 20 million people out of poverty by 2020, statistics show dreadful increases in poverty rates in different EU countries. Between 2010 and 2011, the number of people at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion in the EU increased by 3.7 million (+0.7%), reaching the number of 121.2 million people in 2011 (24.3 % of the entire population). In 2012, 124.5 million people (24.8 %) at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Since 2010, 6 million more people are living in or at risk of poverty in the EU.

“The widening gap of inequalities and the absence of participation of civil society in decision making processes raise serious questions on the gap between the ones who hold the economic and political powers and the rest of the people. People are not fools but feel out of any control or power. We are at a turning point where democracy and peace are seriously threatened,” said Barbara Helfferich, Director of EAPN.

The key demands of the EAPN campaign are:

√ A Social Pact for a Social Europe
√ An effective EU Strategy to fight poverty, social exclusion, inequalities and discrimination
√ Strengthened democracy and civil-society participation
√ An annual Hearing with People experiencing poverty in the European Parliament

Click the link below to get to the full EP2014 Manifesto or go to EAPN website to learn more about the network and its work.

EAPN EP2014 Manifesto