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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 Environmental Bureau (EEB) & Spring Alliance Manifesto

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is the environmental voice of European citizens. Created in 1974, the EEB is now Europe’s largest federation of environmental organisations with 140+ member organisations who gain their membership from the general public. Because of this, they are guided by the voices of 15 million European citizens, and act as the ears and voice of its members towards the EU decision makers and beyond.

The EEB works on a vast array of environmental issues and  its policy officers use experts, scientists, members, and politicians to work towards developing and protecting environmental policies.The EEB office in Brussels closely coordinates EU-oriented activities with EEB Members at national level around Europe. The EEB also works with wider coalitions, one of them being the Spring Alliance.

The Spring Alliance brings together civil society stakeholders from environmental, social and development organizations and trade unions. It aims to present a positive vision for a Europe that puts people and planet first. Despite a prevailing sense of crisis, the Spring Alliance believes that there is still an opportunity to adopt a better way towards solving Europe’s problems.

Together, the Alliance’s members have developed a comprehensive political manifesto that can put Europe back on track in their view.
This manifesto proposes six solutions to six key challenges. Download in full here.

  1. Ensure transparency and stronger democratic accountability of the EU institutions towards citizens.
  2. Reduce poverty and guarantee universal social protection.
  3. Create jobs and ensure quality employment for all.
  4. Significantly reduce Europe’s environmental footprint by putting in place effective policies in the Areas of climate, energy efficiency, renewables, biodiversity, air quality, chemicals and waste and product design.
  5. Implement a coherent global justice policy: stop resource grabbing, allow other continents to develop themselves and refrain from bilateral trade and investment deals which undermine the protection of public interests.
  6. End austerity and launch a recovery plan that places people and planet first.

 

Jeremy Wates, Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), said “Developing bold environmental policies is central to building a greener economy and allowing us to exit the crisis sustainably.”

“Inequality is a global issue, increasingly so in Europe. It’s not just about incomes, GDP and economic development. It is also about dealing with the root causes of inequalities within societies. To make a difference, EU leaders should take a stand against tax dodging and support a financial transaction tax” said Seamus Jeffreson, Director of CONCORD, European Development NGOs.

“With rising poverty, exclusion and inequalities the EU faces a time of distrust and disenchantment” Said Heather Roy, President of Social Platform. “Solidarity between member states is being called into question and we are far from reaching the Europe 2020 targets. We need strong democratic legitimacy and accountability, and economic policies that ensure sustainable and inclusive growth.

Party of European Socialists (PES)

The Party of European Socialists (PES) brings together the Socialist, Social Democratic and Labour Parties of the European Union (EU). There are 32 full member partiesfrom the 28 EU member States and Norway. In addition, there are eleven associate and ten observer parties. The UK Labour Party is a member of the PES.

PES aims include:

  • the strengthening of the socialist and social democratic movement in the Union and throughout Europe;
  • contributing to forming a European awareness and to expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union;
  • defining common policies for the European Union and to influence the decisions of the European institutions;
  • leading the European election campaign with a common strategy and visibility, a common Manifesto and a common candidate to the European Commission Presidency, elected through an open, transparent and democratic competitive process

The Group of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament has 194 members, and is the only political group in the European Parliament with representatives from all 28 member states.

PES website

Find the PES Manifesto for the EP2014 Elections here: http://bit.ly/1he54H1

Key 10 points are:

1.It is time to put jobs first
2. It is time to relaunch the economy
3.Putting the financial sector at the service of the citizens and the real economy
4.Towards a Social Europe
5.A Union of equality and women’s rights
6.A Union of diversity
7.A Safe and Healthy life for all
8.More democracy and participation
9.A Green Europe
10. Promoting Europe’s influence in the world

The PES is also running specific campaigns on these issues:

  • European You Guarantee
  • Equal Pay
  • Financial Transaction Tax (FTT)
  • Women and Pensions
  • My body, my rights
  • A Charter for European Women’s rights

 

 

European People’s Party (EPP) Platform

The European People’s Party (EPP) is the political family of the centre-right in the European Parliament. They are the party of Germany’s Merkel and used to be the group to which the UK Conservatives were allied – before the Tories left the EPP to join another group.

Founded in 1976, the EPP strives – in its own words – for a democratic, transparent and efficient Europe that is close to its citizens. “The EPP wants a prosperous Europe through the promotion of a free market economy with a social consciousness. The EPP is the largest political organisation in Europe with over 70 member-parties from 40 countries, the most heads of state and government (both, EU and non-EU), 13 European Commissioners (including the President), and the largest Group in the European Parliament.”

You can see exactly which parties make up the EPP in which EU country here: http://www.epp.eu/member-parties

EPP Platform

The EPP Party Platform is the core programme of the party outlining their main values, explaining the challenges society is facing and presenting their vision for the future of European Union.

The Party Platform was developed in EPP Working Group 1 for “European Policy” chaired by EPP President Wilfried MARTENS and EPP Vice President Peter HINTZE.  The Working Group consists of delegates of EPP member parties who prepared and worked on this document for more than two years and received input from the drafting committee as well as senior and young experts.

The document was adopted at the 2012 EPP Congress in Bucharest, thus replacing the Basic Programme of Athens from 1992.

Click here to read the EPP Platform

Here you find the website of the EPP’s candidate for President http://juncker.epp.eu/

EPP Website

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

 

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.

 

 

CECODHAS Housing Europe

The Federation of Public, Cooperative & Social Housing – CECODHAS – has published a document called ‘9 Paths to Better Homes for a Better Europe – Our Manifesto of Demands and Proposals for the European Elections 2014‘ in April2014.

You can follow the manifesto campaign on twitter under the hashtag #HousingEP14.

Their campaign outline starts off saying ‘We, social, public and co-operatives housing providers work together for a Europe which provides access to adequate and affordable housing that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and creates communities where all are enabled to reach their full potential.

We want to be part of the solution that Europe needs to deliver. Europe has to find a way to do better with less. This is why our solution stands on three pillars that will lead to better public budgets in each Member State as well as for Europe as a whole.’

housingeurope_graphic1_2014

 

 

Age Platform Europe’s Manifesto EP2014

AGE Platform Europe is governed by the General Assembly composed of all AGE’s members, and by its elected representatives meeting in an Executive Committee and a Council of Administration.

The European Parliament is working on a broad range of issues concerning older people, such as pensions, health, transport or ICT, and the committees are working and voting on reports and opinions regularly.

Ahead of the elections of the European Parliament in May 2014, AGE is running a campaign to raise awareness of the need to take effective overarching measures to promote age-friendly environments at EU level and mobilize seniors’ organisations across Europe to get actively involved in those elections at national levels.

To this end, AGE has drafted a Manifesto for the European Parliament elections 2014 which was officially launched at a European Parliament eventhosted by MEP Claude Moraes on 5 November 2013. AGE EP Manifesto proposes a series of actions in the fields of non-discrimination, social protection, health, accessibility, employment, research and the fight against elder abuse with a view to create an Age-Friendly European Union.

AGE has also launched a blog ‘Towards an Age-friendly European Parliament (towardsanagefriendlyep.com) to support the campaign. This blog aims at becoming a hub on AGE campaign, presenting in greater details AGE Manifesto, gathering commitments from candidate MEPs, testimonies from older Europeans, training material on EU citizenship and news from all over Europe about on-going campaigns for the elections. This blog will serve as an interactive and comprehensive tool to discuss and share information on issues of concern for older persons in Europe.

AGE Platform Europe calls on the candidate MEPs to look to creating an Age-Friendly European Union through ensuring that EU policies and initiatives will:

1- Promote equal opportunities and the realisation of human rights for all
2- Guarantee the adequacy, fairness and sustainability of Europe’s social and health protection systems
3- Ensure universal access to goods and services, in particular to the built environment, ICT, mobility and public services
4- Support the right to grow and age in good mental and physical health
5- Create age-friendly labour markets and economy
6- Involve older persons in all policy and research processes that concern them
7- Protect the right for all to live and die in dignity

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