Archives May 2019

European Youngsters: How to Engage Them in the EU

By Diogo T. dos Santos

The European Economic and Social Committee has recently released a study entitled “Youngsters and the EU: Perceptions, Knowledge and Expectations” with preliminary findings on how adolescents between the ages 14 and 18 regarding the European diversity. Apart from having desk research and a literature review done, a survey was conducted with teenagers of five Member States: France, Germany, Italy, Romania, and Sweden. Plus, in Brussels, the survey was carried on in the European Schools in the same language groups of those countries as for having comparative results between the national schools.

Among all positive and negative outcomes of the study, some of them were highlighted by ECEPAA.

Positive Outcomes

In general—namely both in European and national schools—pupils tend to regard that belonging to the European Union benefits them personally, given the fact that they perceive language and culture learning as something important.

It is important to note that those students at European schools, though, are more likely to have traveled to other EU countries, hence being more inclined to define themselves as Europeans. That also led to the conclusion that pupils are very open to having friends of other EU nationalities—that is to say, they are more open to diversity, which leads to the other finding indicating that pupils associate being European with openness towards different cultural backgrounds.

Another relevant catch was that students in both schools are curious to learn more and regard it a required step for better involvement, participation in the EU as a whole. Having learned about the importance and roles of the European institutions could definitely ignite more engagement of EU citizens over time.

European schools pupils, through the means of quizzes questions, proved to have a better understanding of the functioning of the EU. However, the study indicates those students still learn more from their families, friends, and other written materials.

Negative Outcomes

All in all, students perceived the EU as just moderately effective at tackling global challenges, though realizing the benefits of the European Union both personally and in their corresponding local communities.

As for having formal opportunities to learn about the EU system and its institutions at school, pupils do not feel that they have it adequately. In general, they have claimed to have only an average understanding of the European Union. In one school, for instance, complaints of neglect of the administration were pointed out as curricula are overloaded and there is no time for discussing extra-curricular topics. Another correlated shortcoming is that, when there is classes or courses on the missing topics, complaints tend to be the dissatisfaction with poor or not interactive.

“[…] complaints of neglect of the administration were pointed out as curricula is overloaded and there is no time for discussing extra-curricular topics.”

And finally, students tend to hold the position that the EU institutions do not listen to the opinions of the young people face to face, arguing, at the same time, that there should be a solution for that as for creating a more efficient channel of communication between them and EU officials and representatives.

What actions are still to be taken?

The study recommends that more communication is engaged, which can be accomplished by the other recommendation that is making use of social media and the internet for sharing more reliable information directly to young people.

Creating a mainstream learning possibility into the school curricula to provide more information to youngsters is another potential solution. That would stimulate and forge consistent knowledge and critical thoughts on the role and importance of the European Union and its institutions. Besides, the recommendation on face-to-face exchanges between youngsters and the EU would create the possibility of collecting more realistic complaints and requests from the public.

ECEPAA is for the recommendations risen by the people in charge of the study at the European Economic and Social Committee. Our general position is that European and national schools reach the same quality level concerning the teachings and learning material on the European institutions and its roles, as well as updates on important events which can directly affect the lives of European citizens.

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Global Compact for Migration: has it failed?

By Diogo T. dos Santos

Last Thursday, April 25, ECEPAA attended the conference “Global Compact for Migration: Controversy and Media” at the Press Club Brussels Europe. The talk was on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration non-legally binding agreement adopted by most UN Member States in December 2018, in Morroco.

However, not every country was in accordance with the objectives of the agreement. Though it had more of a symbolic nature, the five countries that voted against and twelve abstained ones had perhaps something in common.

What is the Global Compact for Migration?

It would have been an inter-governmentally negotiated agreement of non-binding nature to comprehensively and holistically comprehend all fields of international migration. Such an agreement was an opportunity for ameliorating the governance on migration, approaching major issues of the recent circumstances migrates face around the globe.

[…] judgement about ways of securing borders and on the criteria for admitting legal residency or granting citizenship is among the pillars of a country’s sovereignty not subject to international instruments.

The 23 objectives for international migration

The process of mediation between the member states ended up in twenty-three (23) objectives:

  1. Collect and utilise accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies
  2. Minimise the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin
  3. Provide accurate and timely information at all stages of migration
  4. Ensure that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation
  5. Enhance availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration
  6. Facilitate fair and ethical recruitment and safeguard conditions that ensure decent work
  7. Address and reduce vulnerabilities in migration
  8. Save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants
  9. Strengthen the transnational response to smuggling of migrants
  10. Prevent, combat and eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration
  11. Manage borders in an integrated, secure and coordinated manner
  12. Strengthen certainty and predictability in migration procedures for appropriate screening, assessment and referral
  13. Use migration detention only as a measure of last resort and work towards alternatives
  14. Enhance consular protection, assistance and cooperation throughout the migration cycle
  15. Provide access to basic services for migrants
  16. Empower migrants and societies to realize full inclusion and social cohesion
  17. Eliminate all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration
  18. Invest in skills development and facilitate mutual recognition of skills, qualifications and competences
  19. Create conditions for migrants and diasporas to fully contribute to sustainable development in all countries
  20. Promote faster, safer and cheaper transfer of remittances and foster financial inclusion of migrants
  21. Cooperate in facilitating safe and dignified return and readmission, as well as sustainable reintegration
  22. Establish mechanisms for the portability of social security entitlements and earned benefits
  23. Strengthen international cooperation and global partnerships for safe, orderly and regular migration.

The Ones Against

United States, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, and Israel were the ones against the Global Compact for Migration. Some of them posed their reasons and drew our attention.

The representative of the United States clarified their position by explaining that the goals and objectives of the agreement were “inconsistent and incompatible” with American law and policy, stressing on the idea that judgement about ways of securing borders and the criteria for admitting legal residency or granting citizenship is among the pillars of a country’s sovereignty irrespective of international instruments.

Can these acts be considered nationalist, being taken by populist governments?

Poland, in the same line, affirmed that the Global Compact is not the correct instrument for handling the migration phenomenon, turning out not to serve the best interest of the nation and its people. Polish government, therefore, maintains the sovereign position as for restringing the admission of non-nationals.

To what extent do international decisions affect a country’s sovereignty?

Israel’s prime minister had already instructed their foreign minister that the agreement should not be signed, justifying the act given that they have a committed duty to protect their borders “against illegal infiltrators.”

The Ones Abstained

The ones abstained were Austria, Australia, Algeria, Bulgaria, Chile, Singapore, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Switzerland, Libya, Liechtenstein. Some of them call ECEPAA’s attention given the role they play in Europe in the migration decisions and discussions.

Austria, for instance, affirms that the human right to migrate is not included in their legal order, and that the distinction of a legal or illegal migrant, which was assumed to be “clear” in the country, would be ruined with what the agreement poses.

Italy, more briefly, decided that a postponed discussion had been already scheduled for a parliamentary debate precisely on the Global Compact for Migration. For that reason, therefore, they also abstained from the agreement.

Has it failed, then?

Well, as a matter of fact, it would be nonsensical to assume that such an agreement would have failed with 152 countries voting for it, regardless of its non-binding aspect. It is clear that the international community, as a whole, is inclined to act in accordance with international instruments.

However, some of the countries that were either against or abstained from the Global Compact for Migration have important international and, more specially, European roles. Italy is considered one of the point of access for migrants who come through the Mediterranean Sea. Such an abstentions of theirs might suggest that there is still reluctance to the migration issue. If you add Hungary, Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Romania to the equation, one is able to view that the division on migration policies reform is still present.

Naturally, ECEPAA attempts to cope with the responsibilities of integrating European citizens through its projects, researches and active work between partners from all over Europe.