ELDR Launch Individual Memebership

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The European Liberal, Democratic and Reform Party have today launched an individual membership system for the European party. Now you no longer need to be a member of a National Party to be a member of the ELDR.

for €25 a year you can become an associate member and you will get the following benefits:

  • An Associate membership card,
  • Home delivery of the quarterly ELDR newspaper,
  • The ELDR electronic newsletter.
  • Personalised invitations for selected events.
  • Furthermore, associate members will be able to participate and be a candidate in online elections that will select the delegate(s) representing associate members at the yearly ELDR Congress.

“Direct participation is all about nourishing the quality of future democracy. And with this initiative ELDR would like to add flesh to the bones to what was introduced in 1992 by the Maastricht Treaty: the European citizenship” commented Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, President of the ELDR Party.

“Associate Membership for individuals – Neyts-Uyttebroeck added – is a sign of support to the European liberal values of freedom and individual responsibility, democracy and the rule of law, respect for human rights and tolerance”.

Of course to be a member you cannot be a member of any national political party that itself belongs to any other European political party other than the ELDR Party.

This is an interesting idea from the ELDR. It will do two things for them. One create a possible cash flow and secondly create a a grouping that will work for them outside of the framework of the national parties. I wonder will other European parties follow their lead.

EMI: Jim Dooge European Research Medal

I got this today from the European Movement Ireland. Students of European Integration and Politics may be interested.

European Movement Ireland, the not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for every Irish person to get involved with the European Union and help shape it, will tonight announce the establishment of the Jim Dooge European Research medal.   This medal, which will be awarded annually to a student dissertation tackling an EU-related subject, is in honour of their late honorary President and major contributor to the formation of the EU, Professor Jim Dooge.

Speaking about this medal, which is set to be announced at their AGM tonight, Executive Director Andrea Pappin said, “Jim Dooge has had a profound effect on the formation of the European Union with his work in the 1980s. With his recent sad passing, the Board of European Movement Ireland want to commemorate our Honorary President and the incredible contribution he made to the development of the EU. We hope that through this medal, we can remember his work and his passion for Europe, with the hope of inspiring a new generation in Ireland.”

The Jim Dooge European Research Medal will be awarded to a student or group of students who undertake a dissertation during their college studies on a European Union-related matter. Other key details are:

§      Awarding of the medal will be judged by a panel of experts including representatives of the Dooge family. The announcement of the winner will be made every year at the AGM of European Movement Ireland, currently in September.

§      Interested students will be provided with access to an extensive archive of primary research materials, dating back to the 1950s. European Movement will also provide assistance to students with gaining access to key individuals for their research, if required.

§      There is an expectation that further prizes will accompany this medal; details regarding these are to be expected in the coming months.

Jim Dooge led a varied career, he was a politician, engineer, climatologist, hydrologist and academic.

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, (being only the second Senator to be appointed to the cabinet), Acting President of Ireland, Chairman of the Seanad, Professor of Engineering in UCC and UCD, Secretary General of the International Council for Science, President of the Royal Irish Academy and Chairman of the Irish Film Board.

It was during the Irish Presidency of the EU in 1984 that as Chairman of a key Committee, he and his team produced the seminal report on EU institutional reform which led to the Single European Act and the Treaty of Maastricht.

Even during this work as an expert consultant to a variety of organisations including UNESCO, UNEP and the United National Food and Agriculture Organisation, he continued his connection to the EU through this consultancy work with DGXII (Research) at the European Commission.

This was all on top of being Honorary President of the European Movement Ireland.

The Research Medal suggest by the European Movement Ireland is a fitting remembrance of this great statesman.

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My Speech

EU Flag + Gay UK
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As you are probably aware, I gave a speech at the Alliance Francaise/UCC European Symposium on “European CItizenship”. My speech was on National Identities withing European Identity and Culture. I got great feedback on the speech so I decided to share it with you.

Presidents, Excellencies, Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

What am I? Irish or European? When I go abroad, I rarely get told I am Irish, well that is until I open my mouth, but even at that they can get confused to where I am from within Ireland. So for me this idea of being European is a natural definition of my identity.

But am I alone in this feeling? Is it only because I don’t have an Irish accent and my sallow skin, that I think this or is it there something else, something deeper?

Recently a number of us in the European Bloggersphere managed to have a bit of an identity crisis, so I am not alone in this feeling. Younger generations, I think are feeling more European. But is it because we are growing up in a Europe that is a lot closer to us and the fact we learn more about Europe in School. Or is it as some would say it is thanks to ease of international travel with Ryanair and other low-cost airlines and the fact that the internet can bring places closer to us. We can chat to people in other countries easily online with new technologies. But is it just traveling and technology that is bringing us closer or is there something more, something more basic, something deeper that unites us.

Some argue, though that being European is “aspirational”. Conor Slowey sums this up quite well on his blog “The European Citizen” when he said “When I think of Europe, I think of its diversity and its languages and its traditions, and I want to travel, explore and experience all of the little differences, while I still feel at home. To me it’s not rootless cosmopolitanism, but a deep appreciation for many roots and a desire to feel a part of the different places and people that I meet.”

Coming back to identity, national identies though are social constructs, they are formed by what we see around us, by our expeirences and by what matters to us. My church recently sent around a questionaire on identity, it seems to be all the rage lately, and it gave the following options for describing an identity:

  • Class
  • Religous Denomination
  • Nationality
  • Political Beliefs
  • Race
  • Gender

Of those only two would mean something to me as part of my identity, the others would not mean much to me. A big issue of course with identity, is some parts of it you have very little choice over, for example if we take the list the church gave only of two of those can be changed some what easily, Religous Denomination and Political Beliefs. The rest is decided at birth. Granted class can change over time depending on circumstances but you can’t decide in the moring you will become Upper Class, while you can wake up in the morning and decide to vote for a different party in future.

There is an interesting excercise around identity in non-formal education. Basically you draw a flower and on each of the petals write one thing that describes your identity. I did this on a Anna Lindh Training Programme and it was very interesting and you would surprise yourself with what you would come up with. I know the first thing I wrote down was European, the second was Irish.

That is not new for me though. I can remember having conversations in secondary school about this with friends, and I am sure I was definately then in the minority that thought myself European first and Irish second. I still think that way today, as that excercise showed.

I don’t think national identity and European identity are mutually exclusive, being European to me means that I am broad minded, that I speak more then one language, that I have expeirenced life in another country, I start counting with my thumb, that I have expeirenced Europe. That is a very personal definition, because I have friends that haven’t lived outside of Ireland and feel as European as I do. European Identity is a very personal thing, just as with Irish Identity people put different emphasis on different things. To some being Irish is all about the language, to others its the traditions, to others its the sport. There is no single Irish Identity, while all these do come together to form the Irish Culture.

Identity is a personal thing, no one can impose one on you, unless you let them. In one sense sterotyping is trying to force an identity on someone. For example when I say I am Irish, people think “party” and “drinking”, but there is more to me then just partying and drinking. So I always try to define myself by actions, that is how we take control over our identity.

So Irish Identity feeds into European Identity. By saying I am European is not saying I am less Irish, but there is this European aspect to me, which influences how I react, what I say and what I do. It influences how I approach problems, how I deal with friends and how I behave. It isn’t this thing that suddenly appeared thanks to the Maastricht Treaty which gave us rights as European Citizens.

These rights that were given to us under the Treaties and which have expanded under subsequent treaties. These have not changed how European I feel, but I think they have helped in increasing the feeling for others.

Identity is something that is fluid, that it changes over time, that it can expand with new experiences, and that who you are can change. Being European is something, not to aspire to, but to be in your own way. Again we have no choice in our identity, but we do have control over what makes up the important parts of our identity, to me that is what I have learned, my experiences, my loves, my dislikes, and my friendships. In a year in which we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall I leave you with the words of a German Blogger, Julien Frisch,

“Today, I live in a Union that opens its borders internally but is closed down to the world outside its own borders. 20 years after the Wall – the material representation of the division of Europe – was torn down, Europe is still divided. There are those who are in . And those who are not.

As a former East German, I will continue to fight against these borders, because I want to share what I received, not least because I have plenty to share. I want everyone in. And I am ready to invest myself as much as I can to reach this goal.

48 years ago, the Wall was constructed. 20 years ago, its material representation removed. It is time to remove its immaterial leftovers!!”

A few people did help with the speech and I would like to thank Joe Litobarski for pointing me in the direction of a few articles on this area, my good friend Sean for reading over the speech and pointing out all my mistakes, and of course to Hélene and Cécile in Alliance Franciase du Cork for asking me to speak and for all their help!

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