AGE, together with COFACE, EWL, ILGA Europe, EDF, ENAR and EAPN organised on the 18th of March an event at the European Parliament on Citizens’ mobilisation for the elections. The event was hosted by Claude Moraes, MEP, and aimed to discuss tools and methods candidate MEPs could use to engage EU citizens to participate in the elections and ahead, i.e. and get involved in decision-making processes, to ensure democratic legitimacy to newly-elected MEPs, as well as to improve the scrutiny of EU policies by European and national parliaments. “Civil society organisations have a crucial role to play to both voice citizens’ needs in policy developments and to fight against populism and misrepresentations about the EU. However, this can only work if MEP candidates run honest campaigns and take the time to inform the general public about EU competences and what the European Parliament effectively does”, said Claude Moraes in his opening speech. All EU Networks present had the possibility to present their campaign and the methods they use to reach EU citizens and ensure they will cast an informed vote in May.
Moreover, in order to give greater visibility to the MEP candidates who support AGE Manifesto, AGE recently started listing their names on the thematic blog on EP elections. We hope this will help AGE create a wide community of MEP candidates support our pledges and build long lasting relationships with future MEPs to ensure that the next term will make a difference for older persons in Europe.
“We want to make sure that citizens get the right information, vote on actual facts”, said Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Secretary General. “We also want future MEPs to commit to meet annually with civil society organisations to report back on their activities and listen to grassroots citizens’ needs and expectations”, she concluded.
COFACE’s new #FamiliesVOTE2014 publication aims to bring concrete information to the attention of European citizens and boost voters’ knowledge and understanding on what the EP can and will do for families’ wellbeing over the next 5 years. “European citizens and families must make an informed and responsible decision when they cast their vote” said Annemie Drieskens, COFACE President.
“With Y Vote 2014, we are engaging citizens, and especially young students, by raising their awareness about the EU, involving them in drafting recommendatiosn directed to MEPs, and last but not least, empowering them to become multipliers towards other citizens”, said Lucille Rieux from the European Students’ forum (AEGEE), “we need to show them that decision-makers do care for them and do address their needs; This is why we need MEPs to not only give young people’s importance in their speeches, but above all, to act accordingly”.
ILGA-Europe and its member organisations are working hard on their Come Out Campaign to strengthen the human rights agenda of the next EP and Commission, thanks to increased voters’ mobilisation and to concrete commitments by candidates and political parties. “We are also proud to be working with ENAR on our jointcampaign #NoHateEP2014 and promote an EU equality agenda that is common to all communities, including sexual minorities and ethnic minorities”, added Joël Le Déroff from ILGA Europe. ENAR is also promoting 7 key demands for more equality in Europe to future MEPs in the frame of the “I vote for diversity” campaign.
EWL Manifesto “Act now for her future, commit to gender equality” demands a strong Europe promoting women’s and girls’ rights and gender equality. “We encourage our members to send the Manifesto to their MEPs and candidates for the European elections, to use it to launch debates on equality between women and men in Europe”, said Pierrette Pape from the European Women’s Lobby (EWL).
Champion the rights of children is also the purpose of the Child Rights Manifesto, written by Eurochild and 13 other international and European child rights organisations: “we count on working with MEPs, our members, the voters, as well as children towards that goal.” said Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General of Eurochild.
EDF also urges candidates, political parties and the appropriate authorities in the EU Members States to make sure that the European elections are accessible to persons with disabilities by removing the still existing discriminatory obstacles and restrictions to persons with disabilities’ right to vote and to stand as candidates and by ensuring that all campaign information is accessible. “This is a prerequisite to ensure that most of the 80 million European citizens with disabilities are interested in the elections and go cast their ballot”, stated Etienne Cuche from the European Disability Forum (EDF).
“EAPN welcomes the opportunity of bringing together civil society organisations which are engaged in the European Elections. The meeting today showed the diversity, commitment and strength of the civil society sector whose campaigns will no doubt have an impact on the outcome of the European elections. As EAPN we are calling on candidates to become the champions for a social Europe free of poverty,” concluded Barbara Helfferich, Director of the European Anti-Poverty Network.