Toolkit#1 for EPEP

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school students’ europe 2019 European Parliament Election Platform

Toolkit #1

Content Introduction 1 How to plan a campaign for the European Parliament elections 2014? 2 What about the EU? 4 Factbox 6

Introduction The Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU) is the platform for cooperation between the national school student unions active in general secondary and secondary vocational education in Europe. OBESSU decided to start a campaign on the next European elections in 2014 to bring OBESSU’s claims in the election debate and to raise students’ awareness on the issue of elections. OBESSU, being the only organisation representing school students at European level, created a Working Group on the European Parliament Election Platform (EPEP WG), composed by activists from OBESSU’s Member Organisations. During the early mandates of the European Parliament, its powers were limited to issues such as the develop-

ment of the common market, the implementation of economic treaties and investment in strategic sectors. However, lately the Parliament has extended its reach and nowadays work on a much broader spectrum of topics. OBESSU wants to influence the election debate on issues of public education and youth policies, and try to make them central to the debate. Unfortunately, they are often considered secondary themes and are rarely discussed during election campaigns. In OBESSU’s point of view, education plays a key role in Europe. Education can break down inequalities and promote the ideas of active and democratic participation from school age. OBESSU believes that students should not only be considered citizens of tomorrow, as we often hear, but already citizens of today with specific needs and ideas. To make this possible, OBESSU’s EPEP WG created a survey which was sent to member Organisations. The outcomes of the survey were collected in a policy paper, voted upon and adopted at OBESSU’s General Assembly in July 2013. The most important claims of OBESSU are the right to education, Vocational Education and Training, and democracy and participation. In addition, OBESSU wants to put school students closer to European issues and push them towards democratic participation. Specifically, OBESSU has produced a package of useful materials in order to raise awareness among school students, learn about the latest European measures on education and to bring school students closer to the European world. It is also important to encourage school students to cast a responsible vote, to encourage them to read the programs of the various parties and to discuss the different positions on education and youth policies. The situation of education in Europe, despite some European directives such as those on EU2020, remains an issue on which there are strong inequalities between the different states of the European Union. OBESSU believes it is necessary to work to stem these shortcomings and to give students from all over Europe equal chances in terms of the right to education, quality of education and participation. OBESSU wants to give students the tools to analyze the political and social situation across Europe and at the same time give education a central role in the debate. School students have a lot of ideas that are necessary to take into consideration.


School Students’ Europe 2019 - Toolkit #1

How to plan a campaign for the European Parliament elections 2014?

Campaigning in European level elections The first step in your campaign is to plan it. Many organisations have done similar election campaigns as the European Parliament elections, but they have been mostly only on national level. Thus the thinking from a national level must change to a more international one. From this toolkit you can also find some short information on the processes of the European Union. This campaigning advice should help you understand how to plan your campaign, as planning in a bigger action is half of the work. In the European-level campaign it must be considered that the environment is very different. The whole elections can seem far away but the European context still affects the school student organisations in some way. At this level it is also more difficult to get school students to be involved, compared with national politics. However, as European citizens it is important to know where we belong in this picture as school students. In this short guide to campaigning you will get tips on how to approach the topic of European Parliament elections in your own organisation and how to plan a campaign to suit for your needs. Step-by-step directions can help you to start from the very beginning.

Step-by step-guide Getting started The getting started process should start with building a team for the work. These people need to be the ones mainly involved in the planning and preferably also the executing of the campaign. Making sure these people are ready for the job is a key. Interest in the topic and new ideas never harm.If your organisation is bigger, you can use different levels in the planning process, so that the whole organisation can participate. Before starting to plan any campaign slogan or something like that, the environment and the context of the campaign must be understood. This means that you must as an organisation consider what resources you have for the campaign and what other factors might influence your work in the campaigning process. At this point it could also be helpful to find out if there are other organisations in your country that are working on similar issues and look into the possibility of some kind of cooperation. Setting objectives When you have done some very basic building up a team it is also important to consider what your organisation wants from the campaign. You should probably start with some intense brainstorming with your organisation where you discuss this. Is the main aim to get your ideas to the politicians in your country? Or is it to raise awareness of school student rights? Or perhaps to get school students interested in European affairs? This is something very individual to each organisation so this is good to be done very specifically and with time. With these objectives,it is easy to continue with the planning as you actually have concrete goals what you want to achieve. Remember to still keep it realistic, something you can achieve. With clear objectives in mind, it also becomes a lot easier to work on the campaign.

School Students’ Europe 2019 - Toolkit #1


Research and issues to be addressed At this stage, you can also start planning your actual opinions on the topic. Firstly this involves some research or work on the topic before the final result. When you get your objectives, using the OBESSU policy paper or your own political goals, make up a short list of main objectives you want to bring forward. This means no more than 10 main goals with some minor examples. It is important to keep it short and simple, as it is a fact that people understand better something that is not put in a 13-page document. Remember to make the statements in a way that they fit with your organisation’s political agenda. At this point it is very easy to use the policy paper (and the short version of it in this toolkit) OBESSU is offering you. At this point also remember what are your objectives and think of your statements based on your goals of what you want to impact. Planning concrete actions When you have a base for campaigning, you can start to think of concrete actions for the campaign. Who do you want to meet? What do you want to do? Think of the questions in respect of your objectives. If you want to inform students about the European parliament elections, you should probably focus your actions more towards school students than towards politicians, for example. Think of campaign ideas such as facebookcampaigns, actual flayers to be handed out, flashmobs or just official meetings and lobbying politicians. The limit to your creativity is endless, as long as you stay in your budget that you set earlier. The actions you do will influence your organisation’s image in the media and in the best case raise awareness among your target group. At this point it is important to think about what impact you want to have on the targets and what you ultimately want to achieve with your actions. This means linking actions with your objectives and objectively observe them. Making it happen It is also helpful to set a timetable for your actions. For example, the planning of the campaign and everything else that is in this document before this can be started right away. This gives an advantage on the elections that the groundwork is already done. The political parties at this time of the year are starting to think about their candidates and political programmes, so this is the time to strike. It would be good to finish your planning by the end of the first months of 2014, so you can effectively campaign during the elections. This means that the sooner you start, the more time you have to work on your ideas and in a bigger organisation it can be slow to get people involved quickly. Now you should have a concrete plan on what to do and it is easy to start your campaigning. For this, you also get more tips in the spring toolkit!

Helpful tips 1. Know your stuff: research and plan your actions, you need the information to be convincing 2. Use the paper „School Students’ Europe 2019“ by OBESSU if you find it hard to get started 3. Cooperate with different organisations in your own country, and use OBESSU’s campaign material to help 4. Remember to reflect everything upon your objectives 5. Use the methods which is the most suitable for your organisation 6. Evaluate your actions as you go along 7. Start early enough – this will give you an advantage


School Students’ Europe 2019 - Toolkit #1

Checklist for the planning process of your campaign >> Build up a team >> Research your environment >> Think of your objectives >> Set a budget >> Research opinions to be addressed >> Plan a short and simple campaigning ”top-10” >> Plan actions to raise awareness >> Timetable for yourself >> DO IT!!

What about the EU? Today the European Union includes 28 countries. That is nearly 500 million EU citizens. This means that the EU makes up approximately seven percent of the world population.. Out of 500 million citizens, 375 million are eligible to vote.

European Parliament There are noticeable differences between the national parties of the 28 member states, but they have nevertheless grouped together and formed political groups represented in the European Parliament. The biggest political groups are

>> the conservative European People Party (EPP) >> the social democratic Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Dwemocrats (PES) >> the liberal Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) >> the conservative and Eurosceptic European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) >> the green Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) >> the Eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group(EFD) >> and the left-wing European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL). It should be emphasised that these groups are more loosely held together than national parties, and that labels such as “conservatives” and “social democratic” can have somewhat different meanings from country to country. The European Parliament represents the people of the EU and this is the only EU institution whose representatives are directly elected by the EU citizens. The most important task of the Parliament is legislation, and this is done together with the Council of Ministers. Since the representatives of the European Parliament is directly elected (unlike the Commission), some argue that in order to make the legislative process on EU level more democratic, the European Parliament should also be allowed to initiative the law drafts directly. Just being allowed to vote on the draft proposals of the Commission is not enough, according to the critics. The overall control of the EU activities is also an important duty of the European Parliament. It controls the European Commission and its President and it can force them to resign. It can set up investigation committees to check the activities of the Council of Ministers and the European Commission.

School Students’ Europe 2019 - Toolkit #1


After the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force in 2009, the European Parliament unquestionably gained in importance, for example by getting equal legislative power to the Council of Ministers and by getting power over the EU budget. Whether the sole organ directly elected by EU citizens will stay as powerful, and perhaps gain even more power in the future, depends on the people and thereby on us. Not voting at all means to indirectly weaken the voice of the people and abandoning your right to vote can lead to a victory of those who could take advantage of it.

European Council In the European political landscape, there are several different institutions including the name “Council”. In the European Union there is the European Council and the Council of Ministers. To make it all a bit more complicated there is also the Council of Europe, which a totally separate institution from the EU, with a broader range of member states and also a different history and purpose. The European Councilcomprises the Heads of Governments of the union member states, along with the Presi-

dent of the European Commission. Some argue that this is where the real power of the national decisionmakers is cumulated. The Presidency of the European Council rotates every six months between the member states (similar to the rotating Presidency of the Council of Ministers).The European Council have EU Summits where national leaders try to agree on a concerted line of action. At these meetings they proclaim guidelines and objectives for European politics but they are not involved in everyday legislative procedures. One of the criticism this particular institution has received is that it is more likely that national interests are in focus, and that the national populations judge their Heads of Government by the benefits they are able to reach for their respective countries, rather than for the EU as a whole.

Council of the European Union The Council of Ministers, sometimes referred to simply as “the Council”, consists of the Ministers of a certain department from each national government. There are different Councils for different topics. For example, when a decision is to be made in the topic of agriculture, all Ministers of Agriculture meet each other.

European Commission When the members of the European Council have settled on a political direction, the President of the Commission reports it to the European Commission, which is the only EU institution which can initiate legislation and which therefore should pursuit this political direction and act in line with it. The European Commission consist of 28 members of the Commission, informally known as Commissionaires. Currently each country nominates one Commissioner and these are then given one policy-area each. These Commissioners have to be approved by the Parliament, but they are approved (or rejected) as a whole body and not individually. The European Commission is the sole organ in EU that may propose the new laws which will be heard, altered, refused or accepted by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. As long as no decision is made the draft proposal can be withdrawn by the Commission.


School Students’ Europe 2019 - Toolkit #1


>> The current number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) is 736.

>> Since the elections 2009, 36% of the MEPs are women. >> In Denmark, there is no age restriction for a Government position. In theory, the Minister of Education could be 15 years old.

>> From 2012 European citizens are able to ask directly for a new draft laws. This is called a European Citizens’ Initiative and require 1 million signatures, from Europeans in at least 7 countries.

>> To adopt a law in EU takes from 12 to 18 months. >> In 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon made it possible for the first time for a country to leave the EU.

>> The EU has 24 official languages. European Parliament debates are translated into all of them.

>> The 28 countries of the EU comprise approximately seven percent of the world’s population.

School Students’ Europe 2019 - Toolkit #1