European Movement
- a year of change

The European Movement

Play an active part in a debate which needs to take place now !

This is the page to look for contributions from members. They will be added as they arrive.


17 May 2006

blue_spot.gif (971 bytes)   Communication strategy should seek out the adoption of new technology platforms via new donor alliances. Telecommunication networks manufacture camera mobile phones that can capture and transmit instant photos to web-logs. European Movement conferences would be more inclusive if the public were given more open access to visual records. There is now opportunity and always scope to apply many innovations simply because EM is a broad, multi-party political, non-profit organisation.

Inherently there should less concern about communicating or photographing embarrassing moments, errors, etc, that might exclude such trials in the corporate world. Make it more amateur and give it much less spin. The big world of the Internet is where this informal disintermediation of media is all already happening on a massive scale. The inherent freedom of EM's new climate should permit greater experimentations with new technologies, championing openness. Surely there are plenty of major donors interested in EM's PR value in the application of new tech?


17 May 2006

blue_spot.gif (971 bytes)   In a letter referring to points made by John Parry, Margaret Daly comments on the Steering Group set up by those who requested the Special General Meeting.

. . . They are very anxious to be constructive and to have an effective organisation.   Suggestions have been made that the branches are planning a take-over. This is just not true. What is true is that it was the recommendation of the [Executive Committee] Working Group, on which there were no branch representatives, that we sack all the staff and move offices immediately to the premises of the Federal Trust.

She points out that the only income the Movement can rely on at the moment will be the subscriptions of our membership. Margaret Daly was appointed Chairman of Fund Raising at the end of January this year.

I have spent much of my time trying to persuade potential donors to help but I am afraid that our reputation in the Westminster village is pretty dreadful. Even the new Group of 75 pro-European MPs have said they do not wish to be too publicly involved with EM, as have some of the former Ambassadors who have been helping us.   .... We have also to realise that the political climate has changed and politicians and their parties are not keen to go public on Europe as long as they can avoid it.

Sadly all the things you would like to see the centre doing will cost money which we do not have at the moment.

International   As you know I am a strong supporter of EM being much more involved at an international level and to this end I have submitted an application as a partner with IEM for funding under Plan D involving our 40 branches (which includes three branches in London) and YEM in 25 debates and 3 fora on 7 themes over the next 15 months. This is described as a listening exercise - Democracy, Dialogue and Debate.

Our members have told us they do not want to be involved in campaigning unless we have something specific for which to campaign. After the euro and the constitution debacles we have to remotivate them. I hope this exercise will do just that.

Lobbying   With all the new technology at our disposal a lot of lobbying can be done from home. I personally have been lobbying many politicians, business people and European Institutions on this bid and have had some very helpful responses. My telephone bill is horrendous but it has been worth it as I have had great support from IEM and others in Brussels, Germany and Ireland.

Visibility   The Maguire family have also been extremely generous donating such a lot of time and effort on developing the website. It will be vital in keeping us on the map and help us network with other organisations on issues on which we all agree.

I believe that if we are seen to have a grip on things and good strong leadership we can win through, but it will take time. Let's hope the 20 May SGM and AGM meeting clears up any misunderstanding and allows us to move forward.

Liberal Democrat European Group (Chair)

11 May 2006

blue_spot.gif (971 bytes)   First of all, it is important to LDEG that The European Movement survives, flourishes and has a strong national voice. EM is unique as far as I can see, in being the only independent national pro European campaigning organisation in the UK, whilst the antis have a plethora of organisations and outlets.

It is by far the best placed organisation to lobby the government, MPs and the media. It is the best organisation for influencing public opinion and setting the agenda through academia. Organisations like LDEG can do some of this but our Liberal Democrat link rather limits us to our members and supporters, and we will always be seen to have a party political agenda.

LDEG also needs sources of hard factual information on myth rebuttals, comparison of UK public services with other EU states, comparison of UK economic performance with other EU states, "what has the EU ever done for us?", what the European Parliament has done for the UK, how we can improve the EU, why the UK is better in than out, why expansion is a good thing ...... Part of the job of LDEG is to convince our members, supporters and Westminster parliamentarians to embrace the European project and campaign actively for it.  But they need the facts and the EM should be a prime source.

Without a strong national central office I find it hard to see how EM can play this unique role. Where would I go to talk about joint projects, seminars....?  How would EM attract funding other than through membership subs? Local fundraising will inevitably have to compete with other local fundraisers, including local political parties and we know how much overlap there is for many EM members with other organisations.

To sum up, LDEG has a strong stake in the survival of EM.
   *   EM is unique in the UK for the pro EU lobby and influencing the agenda.
   *   Without a strong centre, EM will find it hard to raise funds or make the necessary links to academia, the media or like minded organisations (like LDEG) at home or abroad or with decision makers in government and political parties.
   *   A strong centre is also necessary as a resource for campaigners and campaigning organisations like LDEG.


8 May 2006

blue_spot.gif (971 bytes)   We need both local and centralised infrastructure though the centralised should mainly be a coordinating role.   Also I like the idea of more working with EM organisations in other countries so we share ideas and have a more coordinated campaign structure.  It is important to have one key person who knows what is going on at local, national and international levels and can coordinate campaigns, communication and meetings.

We need a slimline organisation with the capacity to respond to events and to increase if and when necessary.  I think as much as possible should be sent out by email to save costs.  Flexibility seems to be the key with limited finances.  Presumably funding will become available when European issues assume more importance.


7 May 2006

blue_spot.gif (971 bytes)   Some comments re the Special General Meeting on May 20th

Role of the London office

While I agree that the Branches, and other affiliated organisations, are in effect the lifeblood of the UK European Movement and have a key role to play in rescuing the Movement from its present crisis, I think it equally important for the national centre not to be weakened. Three tasks can only adequately be done from the centre. They are [1] lobbying Parliament, Government ministers and the national media, [2] coordinating Branch and Regional activities when necessary, and [3] acting as the direct UK contact point for the International European Movement. In recent years EM[UK] has not always been effective in these areas, though things improved during David Stephen’s regrettably short period of office.

Moreover, we should be seeking links with other NGOs and pressure groups wishing to influence EU decisions. They could form valuable allies. The EU is more than a market. Vital decisions concerning the environment, human rights, security and development aid are now being taken at the European level. We need to foster debate on the EU’s future direction in these fields as well as on economic matters.

The International European Movement

We also need to seek allies in other countries. Although autonomous, EM[UK] is technically the UK National Council of the International European Movement in which we must play a much more active part. Its events offer a regular opportunity to meet and develop friendships with pro-Europeans from other countries. See .

The IEM is financed by membership subscriptions from its National Councils and events-related subsidies from the EU. Its sovereign body is its Federal Council which meets twice yearly and on which EM[UK] is entitled to nine voting places. The most recent meeting was in London last December. The Federal Council takes policy decisions and also elects the small Executive Committee and the larger Steering [or Policy] Committee. David Stephen is a member of the Executive and John Parry, Veronica Stiastny, Andrew Duff MEP and David Stephen are on the Steering Committee.

UK attendance at Federal Councils is, however patchy, partly because the London office has not always kept members informed of the events, and partly because we always pay our own expenses. On the other hand, by taking a more active part we could exert a much greater influence at the European level.

The IEM’s pan-European activities include lobbying EU institutions such as the Parliament & the Commission, running training seminars, developing links in applicant countries & would-be applicant countries, and promoting EU citizenship & gender equality []. It is also active in relation to the EU’s Euro-Med and so-called Neighbourhood policies and has been fostering strong contacts with NGOs in North African countries. A recent Congress in Algiers was attended by Alison Parry and her daughter, John Parry [no relation!], and Peter Luff.

To sum up

Our European Movement, faced with the massive task of educating public opinion on what really happens in the EU, must work with others both in the UK and in continental countries. To do this, we need a strong and energetic national office working hand in hand with the Branches and other affiliated organisations.


28 April 2006

blue_spot.gif (971 bytes)   I haven't said anything in public about the European Movement for over five years. As a former Director it seemed best to stay out of it. But so much has changed recently it seems to me that all of us who can should get back involved to help out.

The recent past has been a disappointing and frustrating time. It seems to me though that the key thing is not to let our disappointment turn to despair, or our frustrations turn to recriminations.

Above all we need to pull together. We've been through difficult moments in the past and have survived. No doubt we can overcome our current problems and develop a strong EM for the future. We've been in situations almost like this in the past. We had very few staff by 1987, for example, and when I became Director in 1993 I was the only full-time employee. No doubt we can rebuild again.

Volunteers are of course the key - throughout the Movement: branches, national councils, YEM, political institutions, business community, NGOs, European interest groups, doing the website, helping out in the office, and so forth. Even when we have had a paid staff in the past, they have been the backbone of the Movement and we should still be able to pull them all together to develop a strong Movement in the future.

It is in this context that I think that the SGM and the motivation behind it is a really valuable initiative to stimulate a wider debate about the future of the European Movement. Certainly in this difficult period we need such thinking.

It strikes me, though, that is probably the first important step: the beginning of a process rather than the end. There are so many ideas we could bring together to form a strong plan for the future. The time for this seems to me particularly good with the appointment of Nick as our new Director,

I think most of the motions contain some really interesting ideas which need be explored and implemented.

In his message Stephen Woodard goes on to express his concern about parts of four of the SGM motions.  These comments will be studied by the SGM organisers.  He concludes:

Anyway these are just a few quick reactions. I hope we have a thorough, constructive debate which leaves the EM united behind a re-invigorated mission. It may have to rely more on volunteers more than an office staff than in the recent past. But that has been the case before. And anyway it is our volunteers working in so many different ways and on different aspects of our programme that are the EM's real strength.


22 April 2006

blue_spot.gif (971 bytes)   At the Hampshire North Branch AGM in February, Geoff Smith made the proposal that, with no EU referendums imminent, we should once more accept funding from the EU. He noted that hitherto, the EM had been reticent about receiving funds from the EU. Given current financial problems, it appeared that the Movement had no alternative but to seek funds from European sources, not necessarily EU funds themselves, for national financing. It was agreed that a motion on these lines should be put.

Accordingly, I have submitted the following amendment to the Financing motion at the SGM on 20 May 2006, to add:
"that, given the current financial situation, the Movement should seek funding from all legitimate sources, including the EU."


21 April 2006

blue_spot.gif (971 bytes)   European Movement Membership Records

There are some rather nuts and bolts issues behind the re-organization documents that I should like to comment on and am prepared to help with.

If Central Office cannot maintain a full membership list and process the renewals systematically, the Branch organisation needs to cover the whole country. The recent adoption of Lincolnshire by the East Midlands branch is an example of what may be needed. If there are gaps and the centre is not in full charge, individual members will fall through them.

The issue and documentation of membership renewals would devolve to the branches and the Branches Council would need to conduct regular quality appraisals of how well it is being done. It might have to put the odd branch into ‘special measures’.

I am a professional database programmer and I could hold a central database system for all members. There are a number of semi-technical issues about how best to do this and if the idea is of any interest, I can spell them out. In principle, however, I could provide Branch secretaries with a regular issue of two spreadsheets, one with all member details and capable of being sorted by renewal date, the other with the details required to use MS Word’s mail merge facility as easily as possible.

I should, of course, need a full and trusted statement of the current membership situation with details of such things as method of address and this would involve work within the branches.

There should be a membership fee of £35, £20 for the unwaged, with a £10 remission for those who have supplied a valid e-mail address and will always accept electronic delivery.


19 April 2006

blue_spot.gif (971 bytes)   Having read the resolutions etc it strikes me that not only can we save expenses by putting most of the admin onto branches, but it would enable branches to keep closer contact with their members. Currently, I have no idea which of the members of Leeds and Bradford Branch have paid their subs up to date, or who is behind. I am not blaming anyone in HQ; I can understand the problems Jonathan must have to cope with.  I consider it would be much better if the role of collecting and chasing member’s subs was left to Branch Treasurers.

As for disseminating info, maybe information from HQ or other branches could be send to Branch Secretaries who would then have the responsibility of emailing or posting it on to branch members. (As branch secretary and treasurer am I crazy to give myself all this extra work???)

Although I am in favour of a Branches Council, I don’t agree this would be a practical way to run the organisation. Not every branch has someone who can spare the time or money to travel to regular meetings. I consider a more practical way would be for branches to elect a regional representative onto a committee to organise and run the movement. Members of this committee would have to be prepared to attend and travel to meetings, although each branch could contribute to their expenses.

The Branches Council could then meet less frequently – possibly twice/ thrice a year.

(These are my personal views and do not represent the branch)

LONDON branch

12 April 2006

blue_spot.gif (971 bytes)   I think the proposals by the so called steering committee are a dangerous diversion of resources when we should be showing how we can act with few resources to justify getting more.  Just because some people don't like the decisions the Exco has taken is no basis for demanding constitutional reform to get rid of the Exco because they do not want to wait until the elections in 2007 at which time the Exco would be re-elected.  The proposals are vague, undemocratic and a waste of time.

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