Get VISAble!

The European Youth Forum Mobility Campaign

, by Maria Farrugia

Get VISAble!

“It takes six months to build a market economy, six years to build a democracy and sixty years to build civil society”. This provocative statement by Lord Dahrendorf (a liberal democrat) actually contains some truth: building a fully-fledged participative society takes a lot of time and effort. It needs volunteers, committed citizens and politicians who support democratic decision making at all levels of the political process.

Some 80 participants hailing from all over Europe met in Moscow last December for an event hosted by the Russian National Council under the aegis of the European Youth Forum campaign for mobility. The participants, representatives of the various National Youth Councils and International Non-Governmental Youth Organisations, were all strong believers in the importance of a strong civil society.

A barrier-free Europe is one of the real aims of the European Youth Forum. Only if the mobility of European citizens, especially young people, is guaranteed, can human rights in Europe be fulfilled. Unfortunately, this aim has not yet been reached, and reality is far from being optimal. This also includes the legal framework and documentation on which visa procedures are based. Therefore, the European Youth Forum and its member organisations have been tackling the problem and raising awareness on it.

Abolishing the visa requirements for young people active in youth work is an important step in creating a barrier-free Europe. Unfortunately this objective is not expected to be achieved in the near future, and therefore, action in reforming the currents systems is urgently needed. The European Youth Forum and its member organisations consider the artificially created obstacles to mobility to contradict the aims of equal rights and non-discrimination.

It is necessary to start building up a common approach and partnership between the actors who are designing and implementing visa policies, and young people who are affected by these policies and actions. Today, many young people travel regularly to other countries because of their involvement in international youth work and their contribution to the development of European societies and European values. While governments have stated their support to civil society development and the promotion of active citizenship, thereby encouraging young people to volunteer and build a strong European identity, visa policies are completely in opposition to those ideals.

JEF sections are encouraged to commit to the fight for equality, against discrimination and for the free movement of persons. In short - all different, all equal - is the principle that we should ensemble call for!

Your comments

  • On 7 October 2006 at 18:47, by Asa Gunven Replying to: But we also need to act!

    It is great that more and more NGOs have started to highlight the barriers that visa creates inside of Europe. Visa requirements does not only devide Europe but also trough its often humiliating, costly and time consuming procedures work against European integration, the emergence of a European civil society and a European identity. That the leaders of Europe decided to increase the visa fees by almost the double shows the total lack of understanding of this from the exclusive club of 25.

    But despite the pressing need for reform and despite the increased attention the visa issue is gaining in for example the European Youth Forum or other NGOs I still lack real commitment and dedication to fight against visa. If you go into www.getvisable.com you can see ZERO posts under campaign days and under the collection of worst cases you find 3 cases… This does not really ad up to a strong commitment from the European civil society against visa inside Europe. The other problem I see is the quite week demands being made by civil society actors. Despite admitting that visa requirements goes against the freedom of movement, devides Europe and makes further European integration hard, the only claims that are being heard are for visa free travel for students and youth involved in civil society. Are somehow non-organised youth less Europeans or deserve less the freedom of movement? Are adults less humiliated by time consuming and overly costly visa procedures? If we believe in a united Europe we should be prepared to fight for it and we should fight for this Europe to include all of the European citizens! Surely this will not happen tomorrow, but if we don’t make the demands now it will also not happen in the future.

    On the 9th of November – the day of the fall of the Berlin wall – JEF all across Europe will perform a big public action against visa inside of Europe. We will build up walls on public spaces in cities from Balkan to Finland, like this symbolize how visa creates borders in Europe just like the Berlin wall once did. When youth across all of Europe manage to act jointly across the borders we can show what a Europe united means and that we, the youth, are prepared to fight for it!

    If you want to join our action please just get in touch with me, asa.gunven at jef-europe.net and you will get more info.

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