‚Extension of citizenship and voting rights, integration and Europe Plus Initiative‘
Citizenship is the core of the European project. And if this is the case, we must recognise that in the last two decades the European Union has seen at least two generations of third country nationals coming to work, study or being born and raised in Europe and they are still, in many ways, barred from playing a full part of the European polis.
At the same time, citizenship can be an essential step of the process but many other factors are critical for real inclusion in the polis, for instance employment, education, vote. In this respect, we must acknowledge that many foreign nationals formally become, in time, EU citizens. Yet they still do not fully feel equal, they do not feel included and they are, in many ways, barred from the material exercise of citizenship rights. Discrimination, inequality, and social exclusion all contribute to produce a sense of rejection and of despair and hamper full participation in society as citizens.
The European Union is based on fundamental rights, social welfare and justice and these elements must be in full reach of all those living and working in Member states, regardless of where they come from.
We believe that these millions of New Europeans that have joined our societies are part of them in many ways and must not become generations lost to Europe.
We welcome the Lithuanian Presidency’s programme aimed at boosting a Growing, Open and Credible Europe.
For us a Growing Europe is one that acknowledges the demographic and economic challenge confronting our societies, perceives immigration as a cultural, economic, social opportunity, attracts new talents, and fosters legal entry and mobility across borders. And one that guarantees that all those working and studying in the EU are not „guests“ but equals with full rights.
For us an Open Europe is the one that engages in a political, economic, social partnership with countries of origin of migrants, a dialogue linked to trade, development, democracy, whose aim is not just to secure borders, but to facilitate legal mobility of students, researchers, workers, and visitors.
For us a Credible Europe is the one that provides clear rules for entry and stay, that does so together with social partners and national and local authorities and that ensures that new Europeans coming for work, study, research, family reasons are not second class guests, but citizens of our common polis.
For this reason we call on the EU Ministers gathering at the forthcoming Justice and Home affairs Council of 18-19th July in Vilnius to mark a change in EU immigration policy and put citizenship, mobility, integration and inclusion at the centre of a new global approach.
The EU needs to:
- Encourage Member states to facilitate access to nationality for children born in Member states or having followed a full cycle of education in Member states – in the respect of national differences in legislation but setting a European common principle.
- Gradually extend citizenship rights to third country nationals who are long term residents;
- Engage in a revision of its immigration policy, to foster access to employment in a framework of the compatibilities and needs of labour markets and to make sure that migrants enjoy the fundamental rights enshrined in the EU charter, which are the rights of all persons, not just of EU citizens, including fundamental social and labour rights. In this framework, it is extremely important to overcome the differences that still persist between Parliament and Council and come to a swift adoption of the proposed directives on entry and stay of seasonal workers and on intra-corporate transfers, in full respect of workers‘ rights.
- Ensure Member states ratify the UN Convention on the protection of migrant workers and their family members