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European Movement campaign

ECAS was proud to participate in the European Movement campaign to encourage people to vote in the recent EP elections.

EU Parliament Elections

On 22nd-25th May the 28 EU member states voted to appoint Members of the European Parliament. The EP is now in the middle of a period of forming political groups, sorting out appointments to key top jobs, and implementing committees. 

The elections, the first to be held under the Lisbon Treaty, which grants the EP the power to endorse the next EC president, have seen a turnout of 43.1%, a slightly higher rate compared to the last election.

The results of the elections are marked by two main outcomes:

- The EP will not get a totally new look. The centre-right EPP remains the leading force in the Parliament with 213 seats (despite having lost more than 60 seats), while the S&D have gained a few more seats (191) and the Liberals remain in third position.
 
- The rise of populist and far-right Eurosceptic parties, in particular in two of Europe’s most populous and influential countries, France and the UK. In France, the National Front of Marine Le Pen topped the poll with 25 percent, winning more votes than any other party in the country for the first time ever. In the UK, Nigel Farage's UKIP  won 24 seats in the Parliament, attracting voters from Conservative and Labour strongholds. The extreme right prospered also in Denmark, where the anti-immigrant Peoples’ Party won with 26.7%.

Despite this Eurosceptic wave, other countries proved to be able to buck the anti-EU trend. In Italy the Democratic Party,  which ran a strongly pro-Europe campaign,  won 41% of the vote, a historic result that proves that Europe has a strong mandate in Italy. In Germany, the coalition between CDU and CSU gained 35.4% of the vote, beating the Social Democrats into second place with 27.2%.

In Greece, the left-wing Syriza party triumphed in a show of great support for their leader Alexis Tsipras.
 
Across Central and Eastern Europe, anti-establishment Eurosceptic parties did not reach significant levels but in most of the countries the dominant mood is of Euro abstention.
 
The next months will be characterised by negotiations both within the European Parliament and other actors to choose the next EC president, who will be appointed in November 2014.

#EP2014 #EUtopjobs

Elections in Ukraine: what did we learn?

Presidential elections were held in Ukraine on May 25th, with billionaire Petro Poroshenko emerging victorious. Given his pro-European leanings, this election should have significant implications for the EU’s relations with Ukraine.   Importantly, Poroshenko has also vowed to “concentrate on ending the war, ending the chaos, ending the disorder and bringing peace to Ukrainian soil, to a united, single Ukraine.
A joint statement from European Council President Herman van Rompuy and Commission President José Manuel Barosso expressed positive sentiments towards the success of the election, seeing it as an important stepping stone “towards the objective of de-escalating tensions and restoring security for all Ukrainians.” 
Voter turnout for the elections was approximately 60%. 
 

Google and the right to be forgotten

The European Court of Justice ruled in favor of European citizens’ right to be forgotten. People can now ask internet search engines to remove sensitive information from search results according to the principle that data belongs first and foremost to the individual. The decision of the Court has been widely criticised by Google, the most popular search engine, who was directly involved in the decision of the judges.
The ECJ ruling comes after a Spanish man complained to the Spanish data-protection agency that information about his past debts that was displayed on Google's search results violated his privacy. In Spain, in recent times, there have been about 180 similar cases, with requests to remove results from Google results.
 
Obviously, when it comes to issues of privacy the topic is very sensitive. Is the right to privacy more important than the public’s right to be informed? In Europe, the position is very clear and the ruling is being celebrated as a victory. Vivian Reding, the EU Commissioner for Justice, posted a brief statement on her facebook page , defining the Court’s judgment as a clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans.
 
From now on, Google will be required to remove links and erase traces of citizen’s digital past from the internet under certain circumstances, such as when the pages present incorrect or illegally-acquired information.

More info: ECJ Press Release
#datawars  #dataprotection

On 29th April a ‘World Café’ roundtable event was held at the Social Platform in Brussels in the framework of the European Participation Initiatives for Citizens (EPIC) project. The EPIC project, run by the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (NACAB) alongside partner organisations ECAS and the Civil College Foundation (CFF) Hungary, aims to enhance citizens’ ownership and usage of their rights by promoting and increasing knowledge levels on four EU-level participation tools: European elections, petitioning to the European Parliament, complaining to the European Ombudsman, and the European Citizens Initiative (ECI). 

During the event, participants discussed the strengths, weaknesses and potential changes that could be enacted to make all four methods of citizen participation more effective. Petitions take too long but are extremely versatile; engaging with the Ombudsman is often effective but niche; the ECI powerful but filled with ‘structural’ issues; and elections crucial but ignored. One common theme was the interconnectivity of the tools: if attempting to enact change in the EU, it is short-sighted to only utilise one of the participatory methods – rather, citizens should campaign on as many fronts as possible; while the need for NGOs to actively promote and educate citizens on each right was also underlined.
 

My Mobility Mentor Inception Meeting / ‘Invisible Migrants’ Event 

 

Friday 9th May marked the opening meeting of the My Mobility Mentor project. The project and aims to establish a network of rights advisors who can advise Romanian and Bulgarian migrants moving to Belgium, Italy or the UK, aiding them in the process of moving to, settling in, and finding a job in another Member State, as well as providing legal support if things go wrong. The network will allow individual advisers to develop solutions to problems encountered by workers by sharing practical knowledge in the area of free movement of workers. In the framework of the project, pre-departure and post-arrival meetings will be held where migrants can receive a variety of information; a practical guide on what to do when migrating will be published; and a web-hub will be created containing general and tailor-made legal information for EU migrant workers and posted workers. 

The inception meeting coincided with a training event on EU advocacy and the rights of vulnerable EU migrants on the 8th May. The training covered areas such as how to bring domestic law into line with EU law, strategic litigation, targeting the European Commission, and infringement proceedings.

 

Update on the EU Rights Clinic

The EU Rights Clinic, a partnership between the ECAS and the University of Kent in Brussels with the aim of helping EU citizens and their family members when they encounter problems when moving around the EU, has been highly active in the last few months. The mission of the EU Rights Clinic is to help EU citizens and their family members to resolve problems they may encounter when moving around the EU and assist them in enforcing their European rights when the problem remains unresolved following recourse to the EU’s assistance services (Your Europe Advice and SOLVIT). 

Recent activities undertaken by the Rights Clinic include requesting that the UK Home Office review their decision to refuse a permanent residence card to a Polish citizen, resident in the UK; submitting an appeal to the French authorities concerning their decision not to issue a Schengen visa to the wife of a European citizen; and securing a visa for a non-EU national, resident in Cyprus, so that he could travel to Poland to live with his Polish wife and child.

 

Contact us if you encounter any problem with your EU Rights at: rights.clinic@ecas.org

Triple A for Citizens: state of play


The “ Triple A for Citizens - Access to Information, Advice and Active help” project is implemented in the framework of the European Commission’s Partnership Programme for CSOs. It encompasses a multitude of services provided to citizens in the Western Balkans and Turkey to enable them to access information on their rights as well as to obtain advice and active help in exercising them. In January 2014, the project entered in its second year of activities. During the first months of the second year, ECAS, together with its partners, accomplished different key activities such as:
-  The launch of a new website tripleaforcitizens.eu which presents a regularly updated database (and map) of existing organisations in the WB and Turkey that are providing citizens with information, advice and legal aid, or active help.
-   The publication of a Synthesis report which brings together the main conclusions from the WB and Turkey national reports and provides an insight into the workings of the Triple A services in the UK and Ireland.
-   Two study visits in London and Dublin, giving partner organisations a chance to share experiences and exchange best practices in the area of legal advice and active assistance to citizens.
-   A quarterly newsletter setting out the latest developments in the reform processes of the various legal frameworks of the countries involved in the project.
We are now in the process of organising mentoring visits which will take place in the coming weeks, to be carried out by our EU partners and experts from Italy and UK. The visits will include a mixture of interviews, tailor-made training activities and evaluations of the actions carried out in the scope of the 14 pilot projects.

Save the date for ECAS' events:

Calendar of Events 

Funding Alerts


                             
 

Consultations

  • Consultation on the protection and enforcement of intellectual rights outside the EU. Deadline: 10 June
  • Consultation on promoting the development of harmonised carbon footprinting measures for freight and passenger transport services in Europe. Deadline: 13 June.
  • Consultation on introducing the European Professional Card  for nurses, doctors, pharmacists, physiotherapists, engineers, mountain guides & real estate agents. Deadline: 13 June.
  • Consultation on the Green Paper for Mobile Health. Deadline: 3 July.
  • Consultation to support the evaluation of the implementation of the EU Ecolabel Regulation. Deadline: 18 July. 
  • Consultation on the functioning of the Brussels IIa Regulation. Deadline: 18 July.

                             
 
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