We are New Europeans, citizens of one of 28 European states able to live, study, work or to do business in another - thanks to the EU.
Wherever we have been, we have made a valuable contribution, exercising our rights as EU citizens responsibly and to the benefit of everyone on our continent. The prospect of a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU directly affects the rights of over 2.5 million of us currently based in the UK as well as 1.5 million British citizens living on the continent. We intend to make ourselves heard on the value of EU citizenship, giving New Europeans a voice in the unfolding debate about the future of Europe and about Britain’s place in the EU.
Our goals are:
- To promote the value and benefits of EU citizenship.
- To promote the interests of New Europeans, particularly in respect of their political and social rights.
- To promote the participation of New Europeans in all aspects of civic life wherever in the EU they may live.
- To promote the involvement of New Europeans in articulating the future direction of the European Union.
- The right to live and work anywhere in the EU is at the heart of what it means to be a citizen of Europe today. The growing number of “New Europeans”, EU citizens exercising this right, represents a transformational moment in our continent’s history.
- New Europeans value the protections we enjoy in the workplace and as consumers as a result of legislation made in Brussels, scrutinized in Westminster and applied by our local authorities.We believe that the recognition of our educational and other qualifications across the EU has benefited not just us but everyone. We want to draw attention to these harmonised rights and to what it means to be an EU citizen.
- After two world wars and decades of destructive totalitarianism, we’re proud that the EU has helped win the peace, bringing stability and prosperity to our continent, acting as a civilizing influence on all our countries, including Britain.We want our children and our children’s children to identify with the Europe we have helped construct.In a similar show of solidarity with New Europeans of the future, we support the EU’s further enlargement - extending the benefits of EU citizenship and making Europe stronger in the increasingly competitive global economy.
- We don’t underestimate the trouble the EU is in as a result of the financial and economic crisis. We don’t deny its flagging popular support.And we are the first to accept that it needs reform.But we are fearful of where its opponents may take us, and we reject absolutely the resurgence of extreme nationalism in some parts of Europe that threatens its achievements as well as the values that we as citizens are determined to uphold – democracy, human rights, equality, fairness and the rule of law.
- Even in Britain, this process of building Europe through the free movement of its citizens seems now to be in jeopardy.Whatever the merits of the proposed referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the EU, a vote to leave would severely curtail the rights we currently enjoy, rights we are anxious not to lose.
- Our party allegiance, if any, ranges across the political spectrum.But as New Europeans we are often overlooked in Britain’s feverish debate about national sovereignty and the cost of EU membership. If we are not from the UK we are made to feel that we have no voice. Yet the outcome of any referendum will have a direct impact on our lives and those of our families. Now is the time for all of us who can attest to the value of EU citizenship, whether we originate from the UK or elsewhere in the EU, to stand up, to be heard, and to be counted.
- We are angry that the social and political rights enjoyed by non-British EU citizens in the UK are already threatened. The fear of migration from Romania and Bulgaria when transitional restrictions on free movement are lifted next year has prompted the British government to look at measures that might have a negative impact on our lives - introducing compulsory ID cards for EU nationals living in the UK, for example, or restricting access to the National Health Service. Furthermore, Britain leaving the EU would disenfranchise us: thanks to the Maastricht Treaty, EU citizens enjoy the right to vote in local and European elections wherever they live in the EU. In the UK we also have the right to vote in London, Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish elections, these rights deriving directly from UK rather than EU law.
- So our first priority as New Europeans is to give a voice to EU citizens in the arguments already underway about our rights here in the UK. Though we speak with passion, we are determined to demonstrate integrity with facts.
- Secondly, EU citizenship must mean participating as equals in the local and national communities where we choose to live. So we mean to help New Europeans participate in all aspects of the civic life of the country in which we find ourselves. By holding meetings in Westminster, we will assist the integration of EU citizens from across Europe into the social and political fabric of the UK. And when visiting politicians or civil society figures visit from other EU countries, we will facilitate meetings and dialogue with EU citizens living in the UK.
- Thirdly, we want to spur a drive to empower EU citizens to help shape the way in which the EU moves forward, to address the yawning gap between the institutions of the EU and its citizens. It has long been clear that those achievements – peace, stability and prosperity – that led to the EU rightly being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize fail to resonate as they once did and no longer suffice as a rationale for the European project in the 21st Century. Our European Union must now become the construct, not of elites acting for the states of Europe, but of its citizens. It must become more accountable, and more responsive, to the needs of the citizen.
- As New Europeans, and just like the EU’s detractors, we will articulate the interests, the needs, and the demands to which we require a response from those governing us - at whatever level. We will take up issues like ethical banking, youth unemployment and the green economy that cut across both EU and national policy-making. In this, we will engage with local and national politics and politicians just as much as those in Brussels.