On the 20th and 21st of May, ECEPAA was in Ruse, Bulgaria, for the first IHAVET transnational meeting. The planned agenda was successfully accomplished within roughly two days. Those attending were ECEPAA, the leading organization of the project, First Private School Leonardo da Vinci (Bulgaria), the hosting partner of the transnational meeting, and the following participating organizations: Agrupamento de Escolas de Silves (Portugal), CIEP ASBL (Belgium), CONNGI (Italy), Eurocircle Association (France), and the 2nd Vocational High School of Katerini (Greece).
On the first day (20th), after a warm welcoming by the hosting organization and the agenda presentation by ECEPAA, all participating organizations involved in IHAVET gathered for giving their corresponding presentations for illustrating the main activities with which they work with, as well as eventual projects they are recently engaged in. Every organizations seemed to be interested in each other’s work and purpose, also given the fact that three of them were schools, hence creating a comparative discussions as far as curriculum framework and student’s activities are concerned.
Afterwards, ECEPAA had the floor as to review IHAVET objetives and activities planned for everyone and also highlight the fundamental internal communication guidelines between partners. The first day of the IHAVET 1st Transnational Meeting was wrapped up with a debriefing of all major topics discussed and decisions taken thanks to the cooperation played by every single participating organization involved in the project.
On the second day (21st) the meeting was held at the the First Private School Leonardo da Vinci, at where the principal gave an introduction about their school and explained how the educational system works and is organized in Bulgaria.
It is relevant to highlight that, on this second day, the potential dates on which the next transnational meetings will take place were arranged. The second transnational meeting is planned to be held in Marseilles, France, organized by Eurocircle Association. As for the third one, it will be arranged in the city of Silves, Portugal, having the Agrupamento de Escolas de Silves in charge of hosting the other participating organizations.
Shout-outs to the First Private School Leonardo da Vinci and their notable dedications to their pupils. Every participating organization felt warmly welcome by both the professors and students. There has clearly a very good job being done in there.
Participating organizations’ members also visited the classrooms where the classes were being held to have a quick view of how the school environment was like, as well as to have some quick chats with the pupils (in the English language).
Afterwards, participating organizations were surprised by an introduction of the First Private School Leonardo da Vinci conducted by the pupils. A short theatrical play was also performed by the students, and it was dedicated to emphasizing the importance of water, one of the elements of nature and subject matter of the performance.
ECEPAA would like to thank all the participating organizations for the cooperation shared so far as for IHAVET, with special regards to the organization, dedications, and friendliness showed in the first transnational meeting.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Collect and utilise accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies
Minimise the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin
Provide accurate and timely information at all stages of migration
Ensure that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation
Enhance availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration
Facilitate fair and ethical recruitment and safeguard conditions that ensure decent work
Address and reduce vulnerabilities in migration
Save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants
Strengthen the transnational response to smuggling of migrants
Prevent, combat and eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration
Manage borders in an integrated, secure and coordinated manner
Strengthen certainty and predictability in migration procedures for appropriate screening, assessment and referral
Use migration detention only as a measure of last resort and work towards alternatives
Enhance consular protection, assistance and cooperation throughout the migration cycle
Provide access to basic services for migrants
Empower migrants and societies to realize full inclusion and social cohesion
Eliminate all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration
Invest in skills development and facilitate mutual recognition of skills, qualifications and competences
Create conditions for migrants and diasporas to fully contribute to sustainable development in all countries
Promote faster, safer and cheaper transfer of remittances and foster financial inclusion of migrants
Cooperate in facilitating safe and dignified return and readmission, as well as sustainable reintegration
Establish mechanisms for the portability of social security entitlements and earned benefits
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.
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.
ECEPAA has recently been at the high-quality conference “Nationalism and Populism: The Future of Europe?” held at the University of Kent in Brussels. The speakers and panelists that composed such a meeting had an outstanding intellectual exchange and considerable levels of both input and output. That was possible for two reasons: diverse fields of activity and diversified perspectives from both the panelists and audience, who generated thought-provoking questions for discussion.
The topics on nationalism and populism have been posed as crucial to the future of the European politics and also as a reason for division between member states, which has consequences in more specific fields (for instance, that of migration policy reform). The panels focused on potential difficulties to be faced by European governments with regards to migration, security and defense, and the role of media.
As a keynote given by Dr. Richard Sakwa, some very interesting remarks were pointed out, and an overview of the current global context that is related to nationalism and populism was given with some very convenient observations. One of them, for example, was the misuse of the so-called “crisis in Europe” as a reference to what is currently occurring in Europe. As a matter of fact, according to Sakwa, such a crisis is indeed taking place in certain parts of Europe, though the “crisis” is actually for the refugees themselves and other specific regions across the globe.
“[…] the ‘crisis’ is actually for the refugees themselves […]”
Regarding the notions of populism, more specifically, Sakwa mentioned it as being sometimes regarded as an instrument of political renewal (referring to recent “updates” of the political agenda and discussion), as though it were seen as “the authentic voice of democracy,” of the people; whereas it has also, paradoxically, been referred to as “anti-pluralist” and not considering people’s voice as important. As a matter of course, this given notion is that of a general view when confronted with what the world is living nowadays with the rise of many populist and nationalist governments (either left- or right-wing).
How does is affect migration discussions?
The first panel of the conference “Securitisation of the Migrant: At the Border & Beyond” brings particular attention to ECEPAA. It had the participation of Gulwali Passarlay, spokesperson for refugees and asylum seekers, Pia Klemp, human-rights activist, Kumut Imesh*, who has been active in supporting and assisting migrants and is currently living in France as a refugee, and Marianna Karakoulaki, humanitarian reporter.
A very heartbreaking but true information mentioned during that discussions is that about half of the refugees and displaced people in the world are children. It was asserted that migration itself is not a security matter; rather, security talks and decisions are based on “fear” and on the fact that migration might “bother” a specific community. Those factors might be the motives which lead an individual hold a position that is in accordance with a populist and, potentially, nationalist parties’ discourse and propaganda.
Are governments creating policies and environments that foster both its citizens and newcomers to integrate and assimilate each other’s customary practices and beliefs?
As far as the discussion went on, it was agreed that populist political propaganda becomes very opportunistic by posing past economic and/or social challenges a country was having before as if their causes were strictly related to refugees, asylum seekers.
Another interesting thing pointed out was that the definition of the word “refugee” is still not well comprehended by the majority. Besides the distorted notion populist candidates give, the media is also the one to blame for communicating a distorted meaning of the term to the public, hence conducting people to imprecise conclusions and incoherent associations. Certain people, then, are not as engaged in the happenings and are easily influenced by populist rhetoric**.
“[…] the media is also the one to blame for communicating a distorted meaning of the term to the public […]”
If there is a struggle or a clash between different cultures, is it not better to approach these issues via intercultural means rather than multicultural ones?
There are questions that should not fade away in face of what history has showed us and of what society is witnessing right now.
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*Kumut Imesh has taken part in a documentary in which he attempts to retrace and retake the same paths he walked through in his journey to Europe. You can watch the documentary for free at: http://revenirfilm.com/
**During the discussion, the speaker referred to “right-wing” politicians. However, as the author of this article and in the light of my own understanding and opinion, I claim that the same influential effect can be noted under any political or ideological orientation.
About a week ago, ECEPAA attended a conference along with other representatives of other organizations and professionals engaged in the non-profit organizations sector. The discussions consisted of topics from written “Policy Papers*” stemming from internal security matters, asylum and migration policies, to notions on the single market in the European Union.
Though such researchers did not attend the discussion sessions, Andrew Geddes and Martin Ruhs’ paper “Reforming Asylum and Migration Policies in Europe: Attitudes, Realism and Values” was referred to and talked about by other panelists, and it drew particular attention to ECEPAA.
How should EU Member States face the Asylum and Migration Policies issue?
EU Member States find themselves divided by attempting to figure out how to reform and reconstruct European asylum, refugee and migration policies. Although the number of new asylum applications has drastically reduced in the last year—in 2018, about 580,800 first-time asylum seekers were registered, a number considered low comparing with the years of 2015 and 2016 when number struck more than 1,200,000 applications a year—, talks about migration issues are still heated and without a definite solution.
” More Europe and greater solidarity” or “national or trans-national policy responses”?
Part of the Member States holds the position that the solution for such a challenge would be focusing on “more Europe” and “greater solidarity,” which means that a centralized EU asylum system and the sense of solidarity between countries could bring a brighter horizon. Others, however, face EU policy reform as unreachable and are fed up with waiting, hence making them take actions via national or trans-national policy responses.
So… How to approach the problem?
Among diverse policy proposals pouring around at the European Commission, Geddes and Ruhs argue that, in order to facilitate a reform, discussion and agreement should be engaged. Approaching the problem under the light of ideas exchanged in a debate and finally reaching an agreement are more effective because there has to be:
a better understanding of public attitudes;
a greater realism;
a better definition of fundamental values conducting policy reform.
ECEPAA is highlighting the very first fundamental issue, which is understanding attitudes to migration in Europe and its motivations is essential for advancing with policy making. There is need to clarify, for once, that there is no increasing of negative feelings towards EU immigrants in spite of some far-right (as they are usually regarded) political leaders behave as being against immigration. Civil society is certainly not, but some powerful sections of the European population hold power enough to support highly influencing anti-immigration rhetoric. A large portion of Europeans have a more conservative orientation that directs them at favoring tradition, security, and conformity, but that does not mean they are not in accordance or not sympathizing with the distressing situation refugees go through. It only so happens that these citizens correlated chaos and disorder with the migration crisis.
Their standpoint, Geddes and Ruhs’ one, is particularly interesting and considerable given almost all recent new policy proposals had no agreement between EU member states in the course of the last four years. ECEPAA upholds their view on how the asylum and migration policy reform should be approached and undertaken.
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The year of 2019 has started in the best way for ECEPAA!
Indeed, after a long period of silence, ECEPAA is more than ready to get back on track!
Just to refresh your memory about us…
We are pretentious and committed to orientate the pertinent choice of policies that are accomplished by the implementation of projects aiming the community, projects of research, and, last but far from least, of advocacy. These three pillars pay special attention to research, education, youth, migration, entrepreneurship, and culture and social inclusion.
Many things have been accomplished at the headquarters of the Belgian non-profit organization ECEPAA since its foundation in 2010. The same is true, though, for conquests and activities realized abroad, too, with the cooperation and partnership of many other non-profit organizations, foundations, and associations. The decision of rearrangement and reaffirmation of ECEPAA’s pillars, aims, and fields of operation could not take place without also making it be noticed through its online platforms and reflecting on its stakeholders and partners.
ECEPAA stands out with an interdisciplinary mix of competences: from writing projects to their implementations; from field research to briefing policies. Such development of those were also possible thanks to relationships whose construction happened over the years, allowing a discreet interaction through the European institutions. Our non-profit organization is hence a trustworthy and responsible partner with expertise in specific areas. We are designed for elaborating project proposals to be submitted to key European institutions and/or becoming a valuable partner for disseminating others’ projects. Along with that, there is even the possibility of gathering up the involved with officials or representatives of European institutions. As times went by since its foundation, ECEPAA acted as both leading and/or partner participants in about twenty (20) projects—and those comprehended events some of which European Parliaments members attended.
OK then… now that we all have a clearer overview about ECEPAA and its past, what about its future?
Well, we are willing to achieve great goals such as;
To consolidate ECEPAA project management position in fields of Research Education, Youth, Migration, Entrepreneurship, Culture and Social Inclusion, as well as to developing its research and communication skills;
To expand its lobbying activities.
Our organization is looking forward to having all of stakeholders and partners, as we also invite all of those whom are sensitized by our core values. ECEPAA has been always eager to involve the community so its proper position in conducting projects for the community is fulfilled, whereas research is always taken to the next level.
How will Ecepaa achieve these amazing goals?
To do that, Ecepaa has started a deep changes and introduced great news regarding:
Web site design
Social Media management
Newsletter content and style
For us, to be in line with time is a fundamental aspect. In this sense, our biggest change concerns the new website. Indeed, the new logo and the innovative design reflect the future of ECEPAA, a fresh and new one! Let us know what do you think about it!
In this new page of ECEPAA’s life, we have decided to inaugurate our first Blog. This article is the first of a long list of future ones!
We will write one new article every two weeks. You are not going to get bored with us 🙂
From now on, we are going to be Social Media friendly as never before!
Have you already taken a look on our new YouTube page? If you have not yet, no worries, click here and let us know about what you think about our contents and new graphics!
Of course, similar changes are also related to our Facebook and Twitter pages! We will keep you updated about what is going on 😉
We really hope that you are going to appreciate all these exciting changes.
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Comment here below by sharing with us your thoughts and Feedback! They are fundamental to us 🙂