Our friends from PSE Activists Paris interviewed people about Europe. Check it out…if you learn French…or watch this space for voxpops from us!
A few days ago, we asked you to ask your questions to Mona Sahlin on the Save your Planet theme of the Manifesto 2009. Here are her answers!
Climate change is one of the most dramatic problems of our time. The world must reduce greenhouse gasses or face irreversible effects of global warming. The cost of doing nothing will be far higher than effective action now. But the actions Europe can take to combat climate change will have other benefits: renewable energy and energy efficiency will create jobs and offer new economic opportunities. A comprehensive response is required: in all policies from energy and transport to foreign and security policy; at national and European levels as well as local; by Governments, business and consumers. The PES has “A new EU energy strategy” but we need to go beyond that, and we need to agree on some top priorities for European action. We need Europe to take a global lead as well as putting its own house in order.
Read the manifesto discussion paper here. What do you think?
Ask a question to Mona Sahlin on how we can save our planet
Why is it vital for young people throughout Europe to engage in European politics?
How can young activists throughout Europe collaborate?
To coincide with the launch of a new program of events and manifestations leading up to the London Festival of Europe 2008 and with the launch of the free European monthly journal Europa, European Alternatives calls a youth summit to discuss methods and means of European engagement, to promote student activism and youth collaboration.
This call is addressed to student activists and young Europeans throughout the UK, who will be joined by selected international invitees.
When? 3pm â€“ 6pm, Saturday 3rd November 2007
Where? University College, London
Register by e-mailing email@example.com
Agenda of the summit
3 â€“ 3.40: Introductory presentations; Niccolo Milanese and Lorenzo Marsili (European Alternatives) and Matteo Saccani (Terra del Fuoco, Turin)
3.40 â€“ 5.30: Chaired Discussion; Themes:
The state of pro-Europeanism in the UK: future possibilities
An overview of the current situation in the UK, with reference both to the Reform Treaty and the prospect of a UK referendum, and, most importantly, the longer-term possibilities of European engagement in the UK.
What is the situation across the EU?
Brief 5-mins presentations from invited EU participants on the reality in their country followed by discussion
An overview of the overall situation across the Union. Again, both for what concerns â€œinstitutionalâ€ responses to the integration process, and â€œgrassrootsâ€ sentiments towards the European ideal. How is â€œEuropeâ€ perceived in the different European countries? How is this different from the perception in the UK?
From the Europe of finance to the Europe of politics
Brief presentation by Lorenzo Marsili followed by discussion
So far European economic integration has amply preceded political integration, understood as both the pooling of national political decision-making and the creation of a truly active and pan-European citizenry. This has led to many complaints against the EU being a mere neoliberal inevitability or a seat of â€œtechnocraticâ€ decision-making distant from its citizens. But what would it mean to invest Europe with political meaning, both at the institutional level and at that of grassroots political engagement?
How can we all collaborate?
Based on our discussion and one the personal and professional experiences of the invited participants, can we work on an initial joint initiative? The work regularly carried out by European Alternatives, and the monthly journal EUROPA, will here offer a possible seat of common involvement.
The Labour Movement for Europe for London and the South East put forward a strategy of political integration and electoral strategy towards our “friends from the EU”, inspired by Henning Meyer and David Schoibl.
What is the EU-Vote?
There are over one million non-British EU citizens living in the UK, a very large percentage of them in and around London. According to a mixture of statistics coming from the Office of National Statistics, Electoral Commission and local council data, they are more than four times less likely to be registered for elections than British citizens.
As of now, none of the political parties in London and the South East of England have developed an electoral strategy to entice this part of the electorate to vote for them, or to participate in the electoral process at all. Against the backdrop of poor turnout at local and regional elections, the activation of the EU-electorate can be a crucial strategic advantage, especially in marginal constituencies.
Some examples show a limited recognition of the potential. In the run up to the Scottish Elections in May the SNP is targeting Polish voters explicitly. In other specific local neighbourhoods, like Lambeth North, where there is a strong Portuguese community, some election flyers have been produced in Portuguese in the last council elections, but without a wider strategy to approach this community on issues specific to them.
The Principle of Participation
Voting is the basic right and expression of participation in the democratic process. Encouraging EU-citizens to vote in the UK in elections in which they are entitled to vote is as much about active participation and empowerment as it is to encourage British citizens to vote in European elections, using their rights to contribute towards the shaping of the EU.
Obviously business and public sector regulation are the most developed areas within the EU â€“ however, the EU can only work if citizen participation is encouraged and recognised as equally important. The EU is not only about reducing trade barriers and negotiating agricultural standards and quotas. In addition to freedom of movement of labour, we have to recognise the freedom of movement of participatory rights, encouraging EU-citizens to not only contribute economically in a place of their choice within Europe, but also to contribute socially, culturally and politically.
Only in this way can we make Europe work on a local level.
Local, Regional and European Voting Rights
All non-British EU citizens are eligible to vote in three out of four types of elections. As with British EU citizens living in other EU countries, they can vote and stand in:
â€¢ Local government elections
â€¢ Elections for regional tiers of government, as in Scotland, Wales and London
â€¢ European Parliament elections
However, they are not eligible to vote in general elections (except for Irish and Cypriot citizens).
Local and regional elections are seen by the main political parties and by the electorate as elections of secondary importance, and attract lower turnout (30-40 per cent as opposed to 60-70 per cent). The electoral strategy employed in these elections for example as far as target group selection is concerned always looks with one eye at the next General Election. Transfer of power to the Mayor of London and the GLA on the one hand, and growing aquis communitaire on the other, make these elections more important than ever in their own right, as does the possible decentralisation of some powers to local government.
To read more of the strategy paper please click here