Earlier this month, we highlighted the launch of the ECAS Awards 2020, in search of “The most EU Mobile Citizen-Friendly Location”. The competitions’ main aim is to recognise and award cities’ and organisations’ efforts to turn a host destination into a home for EU mobile citizens!
Now, for our last ‘ECAS Highlight of the Week’ issue before the summer holidays, we are excited to present the shortlisted initiatives and open up the voting for your favorite one! Before finalising the list, each application was evaluated on the account of effectiveness, impact, involvement of EU mobile citizens, transferability, and quality and sustainability of the results.
Below, you can find details of the participating initiatives, submitted in the following three categories:
You can cast your vote for one initiative in each category. The winners will be announced in October 2020 and will be awarded during the ECAS conference in November 2020!
Category: Practices aimed at alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on mobile EU citizens
Initiator and location: Volonteurope (Brussels, Belgium)
Initiative: Lets talk it out!
Jumping into the unknown usually happens after graduating, not while still studying! But the Covid-19 epidemic did exactly that for students and organisations involved in the Erasmus+ programme.
Launching the first of a series of podcasts, Volenteurope Vice President Constantin Dedu talks through some of the uncertainties. He provides recommendations to NGOs and participants in Erasmus+ how to handle travel plans, deadline extensions, payments and more.
As Volenteurope states on its page highlighting their Members’ related work, “these type of examples celebrate the value of solidarity, despite the current challenges. They also reflect the current surge in people volunteering to help their communities during this pandemic”.
Listen to the podcast here!
Initiator and location: European Disability Forum (Brussels, Belgium)
Initiative: Double mobility
People with disabilities throughout the EU are one of the vulnerable groups most impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak. Many of the services they rely on have been temporally suspended, and their mobility has been further limited, both in terms of access to institutions and in freedom of movement around the EU.
At the European Disability Forum, we aim to fill the information void and ensure this group of citizens’ needs are addressed in the recovery process. To address the first challenge, we provide on our website a complete (we hope!) guide on travelling restrictions, health care rights, and easy to understand general information on Covid-19. We have also formed a “Resolution on Covid 19 and the rights of persons with disabilities”, which outlines our demands to the EU institutions in addressing the epidemics’ impact. Last, we have sent an open letter to EU leaders and those of Member States advising for a disability inclusive response.
Category: Practices aimed at improving the social and cultural inclusion of mobile EU citizens
Initiator and location: Women100 (Brussels, Belgium)
Initiative: United we stand
We love our city – Brussels- and believe that its exceptional diversity is its strength! We aspire to build bridges and break down barriers between women of different nationalities. We aim to create a space that brings together women who are changemakers from different fields to imagine a powerful common vision and solutions for how we can co-create a Brussels that celebrates all communities, ages, origins, nationalities, languages, and abilities.
To achieve this, we organized a day in Brussels on 30 March 2019 with 100 inspiring women in order to develop a vision for a more inclusive city of Brussels at La Bourse. The aim was to connect and generate ideas to co-create the future city. The event was facilitated using methodologies that create space for participants to connect with one another in authentic dialogue.
The discussions, ideas and solutions on how to build a more equitable Brussels were captured in a report that was shared with all participants, as well as with the Brussels regional government. The report can be viewed here.
For more information, visit our website.
Initiator and location: European Future Forum (Vienna, Austria)
The EU’s strength is its diversity. But the fact that it has 24 official languages (and many more regional languages and dialects) makes it difficult for Europeans to understand each other and make common decisions.
To not be lost in translation, we launched Euro Babble! An online magazine written for – and by – regular citizens, it features in-depth investigative pieces on key under-reported European political and cultural issues. It has become a platform for budding writers of all political backgrounds, experience levels, ages, and nationalities, to share their ideas or local news with the rest of the European community. We hope this encourages mobile EU citizens to get more involved in their host communities!
To overcome the language barriers that usually get in the way of European unity, Euro Babble is available in multiple European languages (currently 8 – EN, FR, ES, DE, NL, PL, IT, and RU).
Initiator and location: ROMBEL – Romanian Community in Belgium (Brussels, Belgium)
Initiative: A bridge between HOME and nowadays Europe
Lets get to know each other! We celebrate being both Romanian and European citizens, with various activities for better integrating Romanians in the Belgium society.
EU mobility. Identity. Multiculturalism. Social and cultural inclusion. Those are our objectives! Part of our services focus on providing guidelines on administrative procedures, job hunting, taxation and social laws, health, education, arts and culture to newly arrived Romanians. We invite you to join our community, regardless of nationality!
Initiator and location: Expat Center East Netherlands (Hengelo, Netherlands)
Initiative: Welcome Home
The Expat Center works closely together with local municipalities and the immigration service to make the first formalities for newly arrived internationals run as smooth as possible. As a central point of information for both internationals and their employers we make sure that questions about practical matters are answered: where can I find a house, is there a good (international) school, how does the local health system work, where can I find a family doctor, how do I arrange my taxes and insurances?? We offer our services in relocation and assist the internationals in finding a house and show them the area, their new home. In our social program we organise a monthly expat meet&greet and a few outings per year.
Category: Practices aimed at improving the political inclusion of mobile EU citizens
Initiator and location: Paris City Hall (Paris, France)
Mobile EU citizens are part of their host societies and should have a say! We launched INCLUDE with two objectives in mind : one aimed at raising awareness about rights granted by EU citizenship to both French nationals and mobile EU Citizens, and one specifically aimed at the political inclusion of mobile EU Citizens. We worked on the first objective by intervening at different public events alongside our partner association, the Jeunes Européens – France, who were in charge of the pedagogic aspects, by creating bilingual communication material on EU rights (9 different sheets on different topics) and organizing more than 40 workshops on various topics linked to EU citizenship.
To encourage the political participation of EU mobile citizens living in Paris, we created a consultative council dedicated to European citizens, representing all of the 28 EU nationalities. Its mission is to enlighten the City Council’s executive branch on the issues linked to EU citizenship and any other topics on which they had expertise.
On the specific issue of voting rights of EU citizens, that was quite important due notably to the calendar of INCLUDE (European elections in May 2019 and Local elections in March 2020). We organised for a EU-themed vehicle (the “Trait d’Union”) to drive to different places in Paris and reach out to both French nationals and particularly to mobile EU Citizens to inform them about their voting rights and other rights linked to EU Citizenship. The vehicle was deployed over 30 times over a 1,5 year period
Hop on board and get to know all of our activities in the field!
Initiator and location: KohoVolit Civic Association (Plasy, Czech Republic and Považská Bystrica, Slovakia)
Initiative: Calculate your vote!
The KohoVolit platform collects comprehensive electoral information, organises it more clearly, and presents it in a way that informs rather than overwhelming citizens. To encouraging participation in both national and European Parliament elections, we developed an ‘election calculator’ so that prospective voters can compare how they would vote on key issues and which politicians most closely aligned with those decisions. The quiz is also available in English; we wanted for non-Czech and non-Slovak speakers who live in the two countries to also be informed and take part.
Initiator and location: Foundation for the Dutch Abroad (Netherlands)
Initiative: 2019 Ballot Tracker
Home can be many places, but your connection to your country always stays! We must ensure to the best of our ability that all Dutch citizens can vote from abroad, and where the government is failing to address this issue, we take action to do so.
So we launched the ‘Ballot Tracker’! We wanted to get a sense of how many ballots “get lost”, so we set up a map where people could indicate whether their ballot had arrived (in green), had not arrived (in red) or most likely had arrived too late on its way back to the Netherlands to be taking into the counting (in orange). Some of the results were quite surprising.
Cast your vote for your favorite initiatives here!