European migration statistics: Britons move to Spain, Romanians not to the UK

Bildschirmfoto 2014-02-10 um 17.01.27Only a comparatively small number of Romanians lived in the UK in 2011 when the Office of National Statistics last conducted a nation-wide migration census.

Find the interactive graphic here.

According to data from ten national statistics offices, only 80,000 had emigrated to the United Kingdom, compared to more than two million Romanians living in other EU member states.

Lifting all work restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians on 1 January 2014 has caused fears that citizens of these countries might move to the UK to claim benefits, with David Cameron calling for limits to the freedom of movement.

Britons themselves make widespread use of their right to live and work in EU countries: Spain’s Costa del Sol and the Balearics attract the biggest number of UK expatriates (400,000), followed by 150,000 living in France and 100,000 in Germany.

In the UK: Germans and French outnumbered by Poles

On the other hand, roughly the same number of German and French citizens leave their home countries to settle in the United Kingdom in company of more than 100,000 Italians and Portuguese.

However, those four nations’ emigrants combined are outnumbered by more than half a million Poles living in the UK.

The most recent ONS figures also show that in 2011, three years before the freedom of movement was extended, just below 50,000 Bulgarians and 80,000 Romanians were granted permission from the government to legally live in the UK.

A far greater number of citizens from these two countries moved to other European countries, with around one million Romanians choosing Italy and more than 800,000 emigrating to Spain.

Bulgarians’ most popular destinations were Spain, Germany and Greece – countries that had lifted restrictions on the freedom of movement, which has come under critic from David Cameron, earlier than the UK.

Europe needs a convention to prepare new EU constitution – Renate Künast

Renate Künast demands a convent to form a EU constitution (CC Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung)

Renate Künast demands a convention to form a EU constitution (CC Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung)

German top politician Renate Künast has demanded to form a convention to work on a new EU constitution.

Not only politicians but environmental activists, trade unionists and companies should take part in the talks, Künast, the chairwoman of the The Greens parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, said in a panel discussion at the London School of Economics and Politics.

“We can only take the next step, if everybody has a say”, Mrs Künast added.

The convention model was also used to produce a draft constitution for the European Union, which was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005. The convention’s members were drawn from the European Parliament, the European Commission, national parliament and governments, but did not include activists and trade unionists.

The SPD’s Dr Henning Meyer replied that at the moment not even treaty changes seem realistic, let alone a new constitution process.

Why Malala Yousafzai deserves the Sakharov human rights prize

Malala survived a Taliban assault

Malala Yousafzai during her speech (CC European Parliament)

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban, is worthy of the Sakharov Prize for human rights she was awarded with today.

She did not only keep on fighting for equal education, but human rights in general with her criticism of US drone strikes.

Malala’s life took a dramatic turn when a Taliban gunman stormed on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley and shot her in the head in October 2012.

The then 15-year old girl survived the assault, but had to spend several months in hospitals after being transferred to Britain where she now lives with her family.

Malala had campaigned for equal education for Pakistani girls by, for instance, writing a blog about her situation for the BBC.

Today she was awarded with the prestigious Sakharov Prize in a ceremony at the European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg.

“At only 16 years old, she is today the voice of millions of children and teens deprived from education”, said EP president Martin Schulz (full video of his speech).

Schulz said that since the assault one year ago Malala had become “a global icon” in her role as a campaigner and ambassador for equal education.

“I am hopeful the European Parliament will look beyond Europe to the suffering countries where people are still deprived of their basic rights, their freedom of thought is suppressed, freedom of speech is enchained,” Malala said at the Sakharov ceremony.

Malala’s full speech:

In my opinion she deserves the Sakharov Prize because she does not only fight for equal education, but human rights in general.

Although she told the BBC that she was enjoying her education in the UK, she did not shy away from criticising the Western powers because of their role in Pakistan: Most notably, she attacked US drone attacks on Pakistani soil in her book “I am Malala: The Girl who Stood up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban”.

Since 1988, the Sakharov Prize is awarded each year to “exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression“ by the European Parliament. It is named after Russian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov.

Former winners of the Sakharov Prize include Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela.

Lost in translation – die EU und ihre 24 Amtssprachen

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1563)

Kann eine alleinige EU-Amtssprache das Übersetzungschaos beenden?

Die 24 offiziellen Sprachen der Europäischen Union machen die Gesetzgebung und Verwaltung in Brüssel kostspielig. Englisch oder Esperanto als “lingua franca” der EU könnten eine Alternative sein, benachteiligen aber Menschen, die diese Sprachen nicht sprechen.

As you have already noticed, I have written this post in German. I am taking part in today’s 2013 Day of Multilingual Blogging, but will make an English version available for you tomorrow.

Die Sprachdienste der EU übersetzten alle EU-Regulierungen in die 24 offiziellen Amtssprachen. Sprecher im Europaparlament können in jeder der Sprachen mit simultaner Übersetzung Reden halten. Außerdem können Bürger aus Mitgliedsstaaten in jeder dieser Sprachen mit EU-Behörden in Kontakt treten.

Dieser enorme Übersetzungsapparat und die entsprechenden Kosten stehen immer wieder in der Kritik. Shada Islam vom Thinktank Friends of Europe kritisierte den Aufwand als kostspielig, unproduktiv und unnötig. Gegenüber PRI sagte sie: “We’re spending too much time and energy on this language issue.”

Es gibt zahlreiche Alternativvorschläge:

  • Englisch als alleinige Amtssprache: Dieser Vorschlag erscheint aus praktischer Sicht umsetzbar, Kritiker bemängeln jedoch, dass er die Kräfteverhältnisse zugunsten englischsprachiger Nationen verschieben würde.
  • Begrenzte Anzahl offizieller Sprachen: Auch bei diesem Vorschlag ist Kritik von Mitgliedsstaaten zu erwarten, die sich benachteiligt fühlen, obwohl er mit Sicherheit fairer ist als Englisch als alleinige „lingua franca“. Der Verwaltungs- und Übersetzungsaufwand wäre wiederum höher.
  • Esperanto als alleinige Amtssprache: Die politische Bewegung Europe Democracy Esperanto fordert die Einführung der erfundenen Plansprache Esperanto auf EU-Ebene. Die Bewegung argumentiert, dass damit kein Land benachteiligt würde. Allerdings sprechen nur wenige Menschen Esperanto: Optimistische Schätzungen belaufen sich auf zwei Millionen Menschen weltweit.

Der springende Punkt der Diskussion ist das EU-Motto „united in diversity“, das sicherstellen soll, dass die Verschiedenheit der einzelnen Mitgliedsstaaten in der EU repräsentiert ist.

Würde die Einführung von Englisch als „lingua franca“ zu Ende kultureller Diversität führen? Ich bin geneigt mit Shada Islam übereinzustimmen:

„The world is moving fast, the world is moving ahead and we need to be looking at other ways of fostering diversity and inclusiveness. You do really need to have a common understanding and I think that’s where English came in as the natural language that everyone spoke.”

In der EU gibt es 24 offizielle Arbeitssprachen: Bulgarisch, Kroatisch, Tschechisch, Dänisch, Niederländisch, Englisch, Estländisch, Finnisch, Französisch, Deutsch, Griechisch, Irisch, Italienisch, Lettisch, Litauisch, Maltesisch, Polnisch, Portugiesisch, Rumänisch, Slowakisch, Slowenisch, Spanisch, Schwedisch und Ungarisch.

Europe’s young generation demands minimum wage for internships

Young Europeans propose measures to fight youth unemployment

Participants of Citizens’ Agora 2013 (© European Parliament)

Young citizens from across the European Union have put forward recommendations to tackle the record youth unemployment. Key proposals include control over a part of the youth unemployment budget, a minimum wage for internships and better recognition of volunteering.

Some 60 young people from different member states came together in Brussels for the Citizens’ Agora 2013, an event hosted by the European Parliament, and decided on several measures (PDF version) to battle youth unemployment.

Although I doubt that a meeting organised by EU authorities can really help Europe’s youth to find a common voice, some of the proposals are definitely interesting:

  • a minimum pay for internships
  • professional guidance and a mentor free of charge
  • mutual recognition of qualifications across all member states (including skills from volunteering)
  • a European-wide, free of charge, language learning system
  • a EU platform providing information about career and training opportunities
  • involve young people in the decision-making process and give them control over a small part of the Youth Employment Initiative budget

The heads of the member states will have to prove if they take the young generation’s proposals serious at the conference on youth unemployment in Paris on 12 November.

In any case, a meeting like this can only be a first step in a discussion about European youth unemployment. I consider it essential that young people are allowed to take part in these discussions because they should have a right to decide on their future. However, young people have yet to prove that they can play a constructive role in policy-making and not only demonstrate on the streets.

Youth unemployment in the European Union is now at a record-high of just above 23 per cent, according to Eurostat figures. In the crisis hit countries Greece and Spain over half of the under 25s are without a job, while only Germany and Austria have youth unemployment rates under 10 per cent.

Video about the Citizens’ Agora (by the European Parliament):

Here are some statements by young Europeans who took part in Citizens’ Agora:

Ricardo Rosas, 22, employed, from Spain: “I think that the EU should push member states to put in place concrete measures for young people who have just finished university and lack work experience.”

Jan Verlaak, 24, employed, from Belgium: “An entrepreneurial mind-set around Europe should be created and the mentalities changed: it’s not only about strict measures.”

Junior Sikabwe, 23 from Denmark, doing an unpaid traineeship: “I don’t think the EU can do something very concrete, but it could set a framework of how to fight youth unemployment. Problems are different in each country. There is no unique solution.”

Guillaume Vimont, a 31-year-old job seeker from France: “The EU must fight against tax evasion and fraud. It represents a lot of money today that could be used for other things.”

Tania Del Sarto, 27, employed from Italy: “The problem is that education is far from the demands of the labour market. We need to change that. Schools in Italy do not reflect real life and real jobs.”

Maria Djurhuus Petersen, 27, employed, from Denmark: “The internships are both a solution and a problem. The EU should try to push countries to provide more useful internships and transform them into real jobs.”

What should the European Union in your opinion do to fight youth unemployment?

Free LUX Prize film screenings could be a model to revive Europe’s culture


Cinemas will show LUX
Prize films for free (CC Fernando de Sousa via Flickr)

The three finalists of the European Parliament’s LUX Film Prize are being shown for free in cinemas across the 28 EU member states. However, other cultural sectors like theatre, dance and concerts could really benefit from free performance initiatives, as more and more Europeans turn their back on those events.

According to the European Parliament (EP), the LUX Prize aims at raising public awareness for “major EU policy areas as immigration, integration, poverty and violence against women”.

The former vice-president of the EP, Stavros Lambrinidis, said that the film selection would also influenced lawmakers because passing laws was not „a cold process“.

Europeans can watch the finalists for free in cinemas across Europe and vote for their favourite.

The three finalists for this year are:

  • The Broken Circle Breakdown (Felix van Groeningen, Belgium, 2012): A love story of two very different characters who have to fight for their love when their daughter falls gravely ill.
  • Miele (Valeria Golino, Italy and France, 2013): Irene, the lead character in the film, secretly helps terminally-ill people to die in dignity, but a new “patient” challenges her believes.
  • The Selfish Giant (Clio Barnard, United Kingdom, 2013): Two boys growing up in an underprivileged town in Yorkshire start working for a local scrap-metal dealer after being excluded from school. Soon tensions develop among the three.

Other cultural events should also be free

The popularity of cinema explains why the EP sees the LUX Film Prize as a good possibility to reach a big number of Europeans. However, in my opinion, other cultural events should be awarded with similar free performances.

Europeans are turning their back on culture, with cinema being the only type of culture events more people attended in 2012 than in 2007, a European Commission study (PDF version) recently found.

According to the study, 52 per cent of the European citizens go to the cinema at least once a year, but only 35 per cent go two concerts (2 per cent less than 2007), 28 per cent to the theatre (four per cent less than 2007) and 18 per cent a dance performance or an opera (same as 2007).

The study identified money as one of the reasons why fewer Europeans attended cultural events.

Of course, free theatre or opera performances would be a lot more costly than free film screenings, but can the price to prevent Europeans from turning their backs on culture really be too high?

Are you going to any of the free LUX Prize screenings? Do you think the European Union should invest more money in theatre, dance and concerts?