Tag Archives: ECI

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.

What is an ECI?

Letmevote has been involved on EU level with running a European Citizens Initiative from January 2013 to January 2014, with the name letmevote.

The European Citizens Initiative is a new democratic tool in the EU, which is still very much at an early stage in its development. In short, the ECI format gives organisations or groups of citizens the opportunity to bring an issue of pan-european importance into the public eye. The current rules give organisers 1 year to collect 1 million signatures across the EU. If this target is reached, the EU Commission has to consider the suggestions made, thus giving citizens a direct way to influence the Commission’s agenda.

Only a tiny number of ECIs completed so far have reached their target of 1 million signatures – most notably the Right2water campaign, which had great support from significant trade union networks across Europe. In the current format of the ECI, collecting signatures on paper and online is a very complicated, so hardly manageable for true citizens’ initiatives without large-scale organisational backing.

At the moment, the EU is collecting feedback and experience reports from ECIs so far, with a view to review how ECIs are done in 2015. Letmevote and ESF are considering to submit another ECI if the petitioning tool becomes more user-friendly.

Are you interested in ECIs?

Are you an EU citizen or NGO interested in what you can have a say on?

Contact Letmevote if you would like advice or tips on what you need to consider when submitting an ECI. We are happy to share our experience.

If you want to sign existing, current ECIs, you can find a complete list of all causes currently collecting signatures here: http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/initiatives/ongoing

Here you will shortly find a report by Letmevote about our experience with the ECI format at this early stage, including our recommendations for the ECI review 2014/15.

An ECI that Works ReportYou may also find this organisation of interest which has published the report above: Initiative for the
European Citizens’ Initiative

 

Outcomes: Letmevote ECI

The time period for the collections of signatures of the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) run by letmevote ended on the 28 January 2014. The ECI Committee would like to thank all those who signed during the 2013.
Unfortunately the Letmevote ECI did not succeed in collecting 1 million signatures, which would have been necessary to get our cause directly to the European Parliament. However, beyond the ECI will continue to work on the issue of voting rights for EU citizens living abroad in the EU, and are likely to resubmit an ECI when the ECI framework is reviewed by the EU Commission.
There is debate whether the ECI should or can be a policy-setting tool – directly influencing the EU Commission – or an agenda-setting tool – encouraging and leading in public debate on an issue. Letmevote’s strength has been in agenda setting. As a pure citizens initiative without even significant core funding, we concentrated our work on three levels.
letmevote_votetick1
Our first level of engagement with the world around us was by attending and speaking at relevant conferences and events, many of them in Brussels, some in Germany, UK, Luxembourg and France. For a small campaign we achieved to build great support among EU institutions, related agencies, and EU staff on different levels. All involved see the issue of how to make EU citizenship more concrete as something urgent to work on. Our Chair Philippe Cayla has tirelessly travelled and participated in too many events to remember, all of them valuable to build our reputation and broad support among institutions.
letmevote_votetick1
Our second level of engagement with the world has been via social media. Our strength has been on twitter, but we also built a reasonable community around our Facebook page. While we are aware that in many countries twitter is not yet as mainstream medium, it did allow us a new quality of outreach to people outside of the usual institutional routes.

The topic of the Letmevote ECI – voting rights for EU citizens who live outside of their home country but within the EU, as EU citizens within the EU – was never of mainstream interest to mass media outlets. While we got some media coverage in some countries, reaching the 13.6million EU citizens, who live integrated, bu with limited voting rights, across the EU in another member-state than their country of origin, was never an easy task. Twitter allowed us to build a more than interesting network – of organisations, but also of many private, politically interested EU citizens. We built a small but passionate network of volunteers from this group, and many others have kept supporting our work by retweeting our tweets and engaging with us.

We value our social network. Many EU-focused organisations do great work, but few manage to build any campaigning support among actual citizens. We are proud that during the course of the ECI, we have broken through the ‘institutional barrier’ and have developed into an active citizens-based platform to discuss voting rights for EU citizens, and to discuss how citizens can make the EU their own by engaging actively in their communities. Much of this work for Letmevote has been led by our team from LetmevoteUK, with additional work carried out in Luxembourg and Spain, and on a smaller level in Germany and Austria.

We also take it as a sign of our agenda-setting activities that new organisations with a focus on representing some of the interests of EU citizens living elsewhere than their home country have emerged. We are broadly supportive of such work, and will continue to speak at events and cooperate online with different projects who share our interests.

letmevote_votetick1

Our third level of activity has been on direct lobbying for EU citizens’ voting rights on a national level in three countries: France, Spain and Luxembourg. As the EU cannot implement voting rights for EU citizens flat-out, one of our focal points was to work with political parties and politicians on a national level to discuss and promote the concept that all EU citizens who live in a country should be allowed to participate in all elections in this country. Our work in the three countries we have focused on continues past the ECI, and we will report back on progress.

letmevote_votetick1
In 2014 we continue to build our network of supporters who believe in strong voting rights for all EU citizens like we do. In the coming months, we will run voter registration projects in France and in the UK to encourage as many native and resident EU citizens to participate in the European Parliaments Elections in May 2014 as possible.
We keep being driven by our belief that we need a strong sense of citizenship in Europe. At the core of citizenship is voting and thus civic participation in the simplest and yet most effective expression of democracy.
letmevote_votetick1
You can stay in touch via our social media contact points
Twitter:
@letmevote_UK
@letmevoteEU
@letmevote_AT
@letmevote_DE
@letmevoteLU
@LetMeVoteES

Facebook: www.facebook.com/letmevote

 

Philippe Cayla talks about Letmevote

Letmevote / Europeens Sans Frontieres Chair Philippe Cayla talks about the raison d’etre for Letmevote in this video, which was recorded at a meeting of the EESC European Economic and Social Committee (CESE Comité économique et social européen) of the European Union in late 2013.

 

Letmevote Poetry Pt1

Letmevote may be the one citizenship campaign with the strongest love of poetry. While our French Chair has written a fantastic poem about Europe in best French style, Letmevote UK has had quite a lot of fun with inventing the new genre we like to call ‘Voting Limericks’.

Our UK poetry has mostly focused on the traditional form of the Irish limerick – but we have been open for any freeform ideas available on a sunday morning! To make matters more complicated, our new genre is twitter-based, so limiting each little poem to 140 categories.

Here is a selection of Letmevote UK poems, most of which were written at the time of the letmevote ECI, so encourage people to sign.

letmevote_votetick1
If we can we should,
Help each other if we
Could.
You see, we’re in the same
Boat.
So please do help each other
Vote
letmevote_votetick1
To thy own self be true
Whether red, green or blue
Just vote
For hope
And so make your country
Anew!
letmevote_votetick1
As the night draws near
We’ve nowt to fear
With a vote we can steer
With a vote they will hear
Please do sign my dear
letmevote_votetick1
Together we can improve
We can change the groove
Tomorrow we can vote
If today you wrote
Your name to approve…
letmevote_votetick1
As night draws near
We have nothing to fear.
Together we can steer
So don’t shed a tear
Please sign my dear
Just here
letmevote_votetick1
There is no line between
Them and Us.
There is no
Yours and Mine.
What we need
Is for you to lead
And sign…
letmevote_votetick1
 It’s late but still awake
We know the need that’s innate
A vote to make legitimate.
Together we’re more than
Mates.
letmevote_votetick1
 Fairness is what we’re taught.
Your name to aid who ought.
Sign here so Others hear,
Votes aren’t for naught.
letmevote_votetick1
As tis the morn,
There is no need to mourn.
Do what’s right,
Don’t give up the fight.
Vote a right to those who are
Born.
#LetMeVote
letmevote_votetick1
It’s off to bed you go
Proud of what you know
So play your part
In the politics that’s smart
Not the politics of No!
letmevote_votetick1
Love a little longer
Vote a little stronger
Include your Other as
He may become your brother
Lets get further.
letmevote_votetick1
Because you wrote
Democracy we shall savour
Without fear nor favour
Your signature to denote
Give your name to vote
letmevote_votetick1
Before the pub,
Before the grub,
Think about hope,
Don’t accept nope,
Give your mates the vote!
letmevote_votetick1
Shame to waste
What you’ve got.
A great fame
Is yours to give
A lot.
Place your name
A game this is not.
letmevote_votetick1
Want to help your brother?
Don’t want to treat him as Other?
Want to help your sister?
As cool as any hipster?
Help: #letmevote

 

 

Journalist Alex Taylor Supports Letmevote

Alex Taylor describes himself as a ‘European journalist’. Born in the UK, he has lived in Berlin and – for most of his professional life – in Paris. He currently hosts the main interview programme on Euronews “I Talk.” He has also hosted over 700 events, ranging from corporate and institutional conventions and conferences, to gala events and prize giving ceremonies. He moderates in English, French or German and can also speak Italian, Spanish and Dutch.

Alex’ experience of ‘living Europe’ may have a bit more different sides to it than the normal European citizen would experience. But at the core, he is a European citizen who despite having lived in France for 30 years, cannot vote where he pays taxes, unless he gives up his initial British citizenship. Like Letmevote, he does not believe this should be necessary.

Listen to Alex’ passionate statement here:

Synergies between F2020 and Let me Vote

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.

fraternite interview_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.

 

 

Europeans Without Borders in Le Monde

This is an English translation of an article by Philippe Cayla and Catherine Colonna published in the French newspaper Le Monde on 03/04/2012

Europeans Without Borders (Europeens Sans Frontieres)

Author: Philippe Cayla & Catherine Colonna

Translation: Letmevote

Published in: Le Monde 03/04/2012

How can we bounce back in a Europe which is being rocked on all sides, where good news is

scarce, economic perspectives remain uncertain, the capacity for boldness and innovation on the decline, and the temptation to shrink back is lurking in the wings?

Firstly, by giving a voice to the people, in the true sense of the word. It is time to allow them to express themselves: i.e. in a democracy, to participate. Let us take advantage of this possibility, opened up in the Lisbon treaty by the ‘European citizens’ initiatives’.

Europe cannot do everything at state and institutional level. Of course negotiations, rules, mechanisms and governance are all necessary, but they are often incomprehensible for citizens. We will need new common policies and investments for growth. Above all we will need to bring the men and women who make up our Europe closer together; to make Europe in our hearts, not just in programmes.

Since the beginning of the construction of Europe , Europeans have no longer been foreigners to each other: they are our neighbours, our cousins, our family. We share the same history, the same democratic and humanist values, the same references and, we must recognise it, the same destiny. Yet too many obstacles hinder the meeting of peoples.

One among the thousand of these obstacles is the most political one. Nowadays, a European residing in another European country takes part in its economic, social and cultural life and pays taxes there, but is only allowed to vote in local and European elections, not in any others. He is not a citizen equal to the others. Let us start by granting full and complete voting rights to all Europeans. Let us do it now, without delay.

Every European citizen must be allowed to express him or herself in the elections wherever he lives in Europe and without renouncing his nationality and his roots: a British woman living in France must be able to vote there, just like a Frenchman living in Hamburg or a German in Madrid. His or her future is being decided, just like ours.

To give European citizens the right to vote in all elections, be they local, regional, national or European, would be to give each European the feeling of a common destiny, of being at home wherever he or she is within the European Union. It would also be a way to do make up for a grave deficiency by breathing a little more soul into Europe. It would be a way of giving European citizenship its full meaning: it must not be an additional, bargain citizenship, but one which gives pride and rights.

There is a new way of making things happen: as of April 1 st this year, European citizens’ initiatives can invite the Commission to take measures in order to strengthen the Union. They need to collect a million signatures. The ‘Européens sans frontières’ (Europeans without borders) association unites Europeans of good will desirous to promote fuller European citizenship. To this end it has launched the ‘Let me vote!’ initiative. To make Europeans into full citizens: who could oppose such a great idea? If you want to help it along, come and join us on our site: letmevote.eu

europeenssansfrontieres.eu

Philippe Cayla in Liberation

This is an English translation of the thought piece Philippe Cayla published first in the French newspaper Liberation on 8 Dec 2011.

Let’s start with the Europeans!

Author: Philippe Cayla

Translation: Letmevote

Published in: Liberation 08/12/2011

In the current debate about foreigners’ rights to vote, the possibility has been raised of giving the same rights to residents who are not EU citizens as to those who are EU citizens, at least for local elections (European Union citizens also have the right to vote in European elections).

Even if the rights of EU and non EU citizens are governed by a different rationale, the fact that increasing the rights of non EU citizens, but not those of EUcitizens is on the cards is an eloquent indication of the lack of reflection about Europe. Europeans’ rights derive from EU citizenship as defined by the Maastricht treaty. Every citizen of an EU country is also an EU citizen. As such, he has certain rights when living or travelling outside the country of which he is a national: for instance the right to vote in local and European elections when residing in an EU country, the right to be represented by the consular services of any EU country when travelling overseas.

The 2008 Lamassoure report listed the numerous obstacles which hinder full exercise of European citizenship. In a decision dated October 27th 2010, the commission adopted 25 measures, mostly practical ones, in order to improve the value of this elusive citizenship. This does not alter the fact that at a time when questions have been raised regarding Europe’s identity and the evanescent European, it is time to give European citizenship its full meaning and its full value. In the same way as, in the Roman Empire, to be a Roman citizen, a civis romanus, was an honour which gave greater rights than those of each of the individual identities of the Empire, European citizens should be given the fundamental right to be national citizens of any EU country in which they reside.

This residential’ citizenship would grant the same rights as the local nationality, without the need to acquire it: Europeans whose case this is would thus keep their original nationality. They could take part in national elections in the country in which they reside and could stand for election. Any European residing in France could become a député, a sénateur or even, why not, the president of the Republic, although the probability of such a thing happening is almost non existent. It would be an honour for France to ensure that all EU citizens residing in France have the right to vote in national elections. The European Parliament should act accordingly. A way of acquiring this right could be to launch a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI).