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school students’ europe 2019 European Parliament Election Platform

Toolkit #2 obessu.org facebook.com/OBESSU twitter.com/obessu


ContenT Introduction 1 National Advocacy 2 EU strategies 4 Voting systems 5 Relevant Links 7

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 development 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.

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School Students’ Europe 2019 - Toolkit #2


How to lobby at the national level for the European level? Advocacy handbook brought to the national level

Step-by step-guide This is a step-by-step guide for advocacy at the national level. This includes preparation steps and the lobbying tips especially on how to meet politicians at a national level and how to succeed.

Step 1 – Arranging meetings with the candidate Most of the lists of candidates for the elections are already full of names but they should be complete by the

end of April in most of the European countries. Thus there are plenty of candidates in your country already campaigning and meeting different interest groups. The sooner you get started the better; as the the elections come closer, candidates are going to have more and more tight schedules. Choosing who to meet depends on the resources you have. If you have enough volunteers to do advocacy, meeting more candidates is an option, but here is a few tips how to choose a good variety even with small resources:

>> Choose at least one candidate from each major political country > High-profile candidates are hard to reach but helpful for the advocacy – eg. former MEPs running again. > Remember that the political parties might not have stance on education but meeting with candidates with no previous opinion gives you a chance to convince them.

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New, first-time or young candidates usually have more time than high-profile ones and are probably going to run in the future

>> If you think some candidates can not find the time for a formal meeting, most of them are campaigning around your country, so go and meet them in events where they are participating.

Keep in mind that these politicians meet many interest groups almost every day, so you might want to think about cooperating with similar organisations in your country for the advocacy work.

Step 2 – Get to know the person you are meeting and prepare yourself (or train the people meeting them)

>> Firstly get to know the party the candidate is representing > Where does the party stand with the issues you want to change?

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Read the website and basic facts about the candidate

> Where has the candidate gone to school? What are the candidate’s main priorities? > Knowing the candidate helps you to prepare yourself. For example, if you know you are going to meet a candidate with a strong stance about student welfare, he/she might concentrate on that for the whole meeting.

>> Know your stuff > You have set goals for your campaign, so now you have to know what you want to accomplish. What do you want to say?

> Keep it short and simple. >>

Prepare for possible questions

> If you know the candidate well enough you can prepare yourself for possible questions. > You should prepare to answer anything related to the topic you are lobbying for. If you do not know the answer, get back to the question later with the candidate; this also helps them to remember you

Step 3 – The meeting

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Be yourself

> You are representing school students, no one expects you to know everything and behave in a way that is not you.

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Be polite

> Even if the candidate disagrees with your opinions, try to stay calm. >> Represent your cause > Now is your chance to shine and their time to listen to what you have to say – just do it. Step 4 – After the meeting The advocacy work never ends right away after meeting candidates. If you want them to remember you, you should contact them after the meeting and thank for the time and remind them of some important points you still wanted to emphasise.

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EU Strategies and Policies The European Union, under the Treaty of Lisbon, does not have direct mandate to pass legislation on education. Instead it uses the so-called “Open Method of Coordination” (OMC), which is a process where Member States - and sometimes also non-Member States like Switzerland and Iceland - cooperate without making binding legislation. Nevertheless, it is important to know the most important political processes in the field of education at the European level in order to compare them with the policy proposals of the parties running to the next European elections.

EU2020 “OBESSU has to co-operate as much as possible so that EU2020’s objectives are not placed into a corner, but are given the importance they need to build a better society and better future leaders of society, always taking into consideration the present and what it is necessary to change, starting from projects such as Europe 2020. “ (OBESSU’s Political Platform) Europe2020 Strategy has identified five priority areas for a smart, sustainable and inclusive European growth: employement; reasearch and innovation; climate change and energy sustainability; education; fighting poverty and social exclusion. Europe2020’s goals for a smart growth include objectives in the education field, research and innovation, digital society: “1. combined public and private investment levels to reach 3% of EU’s GDP as well as better conditions for R&D and Innovation

2. 75% employment rate for women and men aged 20-64 by 2020 – achieved by getting more people into work, especially women, the young, older and low-skilled people and legal migrants

3. better educational attainment – in particular:

- reducing school drop-out rates below 10% - at least 40% of 30-34–year-olds with third level education (or equivalent).” (From ec.europa.eu) Some other goals in the field of education have been further specified in the “European cooperation in education and training”, also called “ET 2020”. Unfortunately, in many countries these objectives remain far away. National policies, in fact, are far from achieving the goals proposed by Europe 2020. It will be an open debate in the upcoming election to understand how to work more pragmatically on the objectives in the field.

Rethinking Education “1. What is Rethinking Education? Rethinking Education is a European Commission Communication from 2012, which in 2013 was replied to by the European Parliament in a report and a motion. From OBESSU’s perspective, the Parliament’s report had better positions than the Commission’s one.

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2. What does Rethinking Education mean?

The communication is focused on some main topics: skills, VET, transition from education to employment and funding in education. There are some positive aspects in this Communication, such as the promotion of languages and technology learning. However, the Communication seems too focused on the relationship between education and the labour market, in order to kill the high percentage of youth unemployment. OBESSU is critical towards this focus.

3. What does Obessu think about?

OBESSU’s reaction explains OBESSU’s point of view on the topics presented in the Rethinking Education Communication. Here is an abstract of the introduction: “OBESSU welcomes the acknowledgement by the Commission of education as a crucial solution to the crisis Europe is facing. We believe school students should play a fundamental role in the development of educational policies since they are most affected by those policies. Unfortunately, the Communication fails in recognising education as a human right, answering to the different learners’ needs, and leaving a space for personal development and fulfilment. The Commission’s document, instead, focuses mainly on the idea of education as producer of workforce, responding solely to labour market’s needs.” (OBESSU’s reaction to Rethinking Education Communication)

The debate on VET, as it is strongly connected to youth unemployment, is one of the central topics in the upcoming European elections, with different positions of the individual coalitions. OBESSU also wrote a short statement welcoming the Parliament’s report in 2013. The Rethinking Education Communication is a good example of how the European Union can influence the agenda in the field of education, without directly passing legislation. In the field of VET, a good example of a non-legislation EU document is the “Copenhagen Process“ from 2002. A more recent example is “Opening up Education”, which outlines how ICT tools can be used to improve education all over Europe. OBESSU has worked on this topic as well.

VOTING SYSTEM, RIGHTS AND HOW DOES IT FUNCTIONS European elections give the chance to the voters to influence the future political course of the European Union when they elect 751 members of the European Parliament. The European Parliament is the only institution elected directly by the European citizens. The first job for the elected members of the European Parliament will be to choose the new Commission President. This part of the toolkit will help you to understand how the voting system functions. Every European Union member state has its own legislation for European Parliament elections. Most of the legislations define the voting age, the candidate age or the electoral threshold (where it applies). Below you can see a table with information about national rules of the EP elections. National rules. If you need more information, see the European Parliament’s website.

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The elections to the European Parliament (EP) will be held in all EU Member

States (MS) between 22 and 25 May 2014. In most cases, European elections are

Election day

held on traditional voting days. The official election results can be published only after the poll closes in the Member State whose electors are the last to vote on Sunday 25 May 2014.

Voting is compulsory in only four Member States - Belgium, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Greece, where the legal obligation to vote applies to nationals and

Compulsory voting

registered non-national EU citizens.

Some of the member states have a thing called electoral threshold which is the

Electoral threshold

minimum share of the vote which a political party requires to secure any representation. It is a percentage number. In most countries the threshold is around 5% but in some there isno electoral threshold.

Each member state defines the age for candidates. Minimum age of candidates:

Age of candidates

25 – Italy, Greece and Cyprus; 23 – Romania; 21 – Belgium, Bulgaria, Chez

Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia. In the rest of the countries minimum age of candidates is 18 years old.

Each member state has a number of members in the Parliament. The number

Number of MEPs

depends on the number of people living in the country. The bigger the number of citizens, the more seats a country has. The number differs from 6 to 96 MEPs. MEPs are elected according to national electoral systems, but these have to

Voting system

observe certain common provisions established by EU law such as proportional representation. As a general rule, voters can choose between political parties,

individual candidates or both. While in some MS, voters can only vote for a list,

without the possibility to change the order of candidates on the list (closed list), in other MS voters can express their preference for one or more of the candi-

dates (preferential voting). Depending on the degree of liberty voters enjoy when

casting their preferential vote, we can distinguish between semi-open lists, where voters can change the position of one or all candidates on one chosen list, and

open lists, where voters can vote for candidates from different lists. Instead of a list system some MS use the single transferable vote (STV). Under this system

the voter has one vote but can rank the candidates in order of their first, second, third, etc. choice. To be elected, a candidate needs to receive a minimum number of votes.

Almost all MS allow the possibility to vote from abroad in EP elections. Some MS

Voting from abroad

require voters to pre-register with their national electoral authorities to be eligible to vote from abroad by post or at an embassy/consulate. Several MS confer the

right to vote only to those citizens living abroad in another EU MS (e.g. Bulgaria). In addition, most MS make special arrangements for diplomats and military personnel serving abroad.

Voting age

The minimum voting age in all member states is 18 years old, except Austria where it is 16 years old.

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Relevant Links Here you can find a link list of relevant and interesting information concerning EU policies as well as the elections!

information on the European Union discover the EU’s role in education Find all EU legislation by a quick search Interesting infographics on the EU elections and beyond by the European Parliament

Vote-match tools and campaigns relevant to OBESSU Myvote2014 - a votematch tool and more information on the elections LoveYouthFuture Campaign of the European Youth Forum League of Young Voters - a movement trying to identify young people’s concern and trying to motivate them to cast their vote EUCIS-LLL’s campaign on the elections - focused on education topics

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School Students’ Europe 2019 - Toolkit #2

Toolkit#2 for EPEP  

Practical toolkit including national advocacy, EU strategies, voting systems and relevant links!

Toolkit#2 for EPEP  

Practical toolkit including national advocacy, EU strategies, voting systems and relevant links!

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