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European Movement International Federal Assembly 2016

The 2016 iteration of the European Movement International’s Federal Assembly, opened with an ambitious agenda, packed full of important policy positions to be debated and agreed upon among the 78 member organisations.

Participants were encouraged to start their day, hosted by the EM Netherlands in The Hague, at 8.30am when the three political committees of the Movement met for a focused dialogue over coffee.

The three political committees form the core of the European Movement International’s political direction. Together they cover the topics of More Democracy; Jobs and Growth; and Europe in the World, from which members have a chance to influence the Movement’s decision-making.

Up for debate on Friday 27 May were several topics including the British EU referendum, Migration and the Refugee crisis, Security, European Union Enlargement and Schengen.

IMG_2563 wp editA new European Movement Briefing Paper ‘The consequences of a UK exit from the European Union‘ was presented. It formed the basis for a discussion on the UK referendum; with members agreeing that Britain’s future is in the EU and a possible exit would have negative effects, both for Britain and the EU as a whole.

With less than 4 weeks to go until the UK decides on its future partnership with the rest of the European continent, members in the UK, Ireland, Spain and France particularly are all planning a raft of activities in support of the UK remaining in the Union.

The EM Ireland’s #PhoneAFriend campaign, which has already been running for several weeks, aims to encourage voter registration from countries, such as Ireland, with high British populations, as well as ensuring that the many Irish resident within the UK are similarly aware of their right to vote.

In France and Spain, which are together host to more than one million British nationals many activities are planned, from picnics around France, to a Skype based dialogue with British citizens living in Spain.

On the topic of migration, the subject of ‘new Europeans’ was much debated. How should we continue to integrate the many people travelling to European shores?

As outlined in the Movement’s new position on Migration and the Refugee Crisis, of key importance is reforming the Dublin regulation, readjusting the Blue Card regulation and treating refugees with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Through the European Movement network we share the possibility to share best practices throughout Europe, by exchanging stories of successful ground level initiatives throughout our continent. Indeed, members also found time to share with one another updates on recent activities, as well as to outline future plans.

The delegates went on next to discuss the often sensitive issue of European Union Enlargement – with members drawn from across the member states of the Council of Europe, the European Movement International has a vast membership base and outreach that is well placed to contribute in this area. The debate brought up some of the obstacles to the Enlargement process, and the challenges that civil society faces in the different Member States.

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A debate on the Movement’s new position on Security was framed within the context of High Representative Federica Mogherini’s EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy, to be presented in June. The Movement urges the Union to streamline existing strategies and priorities and to focus on coordinated, impactful and joint action.

Members were keen to meet up and discuss potential new partnerships and work flows – both with one another and with existing and potential new partners outside of the network.

The afternoon also saw a presentation of European Movement International initiatives, as well as administrative procedures.

Some key upcoming initiatives include the Woman of Europe Awards. Also of note was the recent acquisition by the EM license for its corporate identity.

The event ended with a keynote address by Bert Koenders, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, who outlined the challenges the EU faces and sketched his thoughts for the way forward (for the full speech see here).

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