CRP Notes: Europe Day 2024

CRP Notes: Europe Day 2024

Over the weekend of May 11th and 12th, our project was abuzz with events commemorating Europe Day, including a conference in Edinburgh addressing the challenges faced by EU citizens in the UK, followed by a vibrant celebration in Glasgow. As we reflect on these gatherings, we’re reminded of the profound impact of our work and the ongoing importance of civic engagement, especially with the upcoming European Elections on the horizon.

Saturday 11th May – Edinburgh

On Saturday 11th May, we hosted a conference on the issues and opportunities facing EU citizens in the UK in Summerhall, Edinburgh. It was a part of two days’ Talking Europe Festival organised by the European Movement in Scotland.

We began with the presentation of our outreach officer Paweł Kopeć, who provided an overview of the issues with the EUSS experienced by EU nationals in Scotland. Based on our everyday work with vulnerable EU nationals to help them secure their immigration status, he was able to talk about the struggles with dealing with the Home Office’s requirements.

The presentation was illustrated with real case studies, each shedding light on the profound challenges faced by individuals navigating the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). These included the story of a man who survived modern slavery, the trauma of which so deeply affected his mental health that seeking support became an overwhelming task. Another case involved a young man his 18th birthday saw his birth certificate for the first time and discovered that his dad is not his biological father. This cause him to leave the UK, cut the contact with his family for a few years, which in consequence made him missed the EUSS deadline. Additionally, we shared the struggles of a young couple who due to the Covid-19 pandemic got married after 31.12.2020 and had massive difficulties to prove that they were in durable relationship before the deadline, so the woman could join her beloved husband in the UK. After months of advocacy and support from the local MP, we we successfully persuaded the Home Office and obtain the status for her.

We could come up with hundreds of similar cases, but the main message we wanted to share that the EU Settlement Scheme is not some bureaucratic inconvenience for EU migrants, which can be easily solved by Citizens Rights Project, and after that they could live happily ever after.

This is and will remain a very deep problem affecting EU nationals living in Scotland, that potentially could turn into a difficult decision to leave their Scottish homes and moved back to countries they came from. Other presentations touched topics like EU citizens experience in the job market and education, discrimination and social exclusion – the EU citizen experience, the opportunities for EU citizens to participate in the democratic process in Scotland, UK, and Europe, the positive contributions EU and European citizens make to the UK. We were proud to put together a great list of speakers:

  • Tamara Flanagan, Head of Projects, New Europeans
  • Bozena Sojka, Research Associate, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow
  • Susanne Oberhauser, Head of Office, European Parliament Liaison Office in UK,
  • Else Kvist, Press and Communications Manager, New Europeans

Saturday 11th May – Glasgow

While our staff was involved in organising event in Edinburgh, our Glasgow volunteer, Grazia Scarda, represented us at the Europe Day event at Merchant Square in Glasgow.  We were kindly invited to advertise ourselves on a stall among other great organisations such as West of Scotland Regional Equality Council, EU Citizens Forum – Glasgow (of which we are members), Alliance Française, Goethe Institute and many others.

The event had plenty of magnificent artistic performances where different EU nations could share their culture and heritage in mutual celebration. You can catch a glimpse of the atmosphere in this video provided us kindly by Alliance Française in Glasgow.

This was another example of our recent close collaboration with Glasgow City to support EU nationals here. After playing part in founding EU Citizens Forum, and subsequent meeting with EU Ambassador to the UK, joining Glasgow City Council in their celebration of Europe Day on 9th May in Glasgow City Chambers, we were happy to be able to continue our presence in another event in this European city.

Sunday 12th May – Edinburgh

Sunday, 12th May, was a day of the celebration of 20 years in the European Union for Poland (and 9 other countries) at the Festival of Freedom organised by Beetroots Collective. At this event full of interactive talks, workshops, art projections and dance performances, we were promoting our work in supporting those Poles who few years ago suddenly found themselves outside the EU due to Brexit.

It was a great pleasure to feel the optimistic and fun atmosphere as a change from focusing on issues and problems of EU nationals in Scotland.

Among many artistic performances, we could also enjoy very interesting talks from Dr. Katarzyna Przybycień, CEO and co-founder of Bilingualism Matters and Prof. Tanja Bueltmann, Chair in International History at the University of Strathclyde. It was definitely a great finish of the long and intense week of events and celebrations. We also wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t end up with handful of business cards to new organisations and communities with a potential for future cooperation.

Use your vote!

Following the Europe Day events, we are continuing to raise awareness about the incoming European Elections taking place 6-9 June. We would like to remind that people from most of the EU states who live in the UK can still take part in the elections in their home countries. Every EU country has its own rules and procedures about registering to vote and taking part in the elections. You can find more information here.