Europe remains a desired destination and a place of arrival to many, in spite of the numerous crises that the EU has been facing in the last decade (political, economic, social, demographic). Not all who arrive are fleeing war, but certainly all are looking for a better life.
Respect to and protection of human rights in Europe and in the countries of the EU remains high. However, this is not always the case and not for all. As such, political leadership often uses the issue of migration to stoke fear while increasing their support at the polls.
Even with the fluctuating numbers of migrants arriving at the borders of the European Union, the total population of those who were born outside of their resident country is almost 10%, while 6.3% have been born outside of the EU (Eurostat 2018). With these numbers in mind, the meeting was an opportunity to analyse the political rights and the respective democratic deficit in contemporary European societies.
In Athens, there are migrant communities established for decades and counting thousands of members. In a city of 3,5 million people among whοm the majority have been born in a different municipality, region, country and continent, we wanted to raise the issue and start a dialogue that seeks answers on the above questions inviting personal reflection and also ideas for how new policies and agendas can be pursued.
The event brought together views of different people and analysed a possible road map for further steps towards the establishment of voting rights for third country nationals and a decision-making process for those who get directly affected by the decisions taken. The round-table discussion took place at the Greek Forum of Migrants, in Athens, and brought together more than 100 participants, both nationals and internationals.
The conference was organized in the framework of the project: ‘A new narrative for Europe: Bringing more union into the European Union’, funded by the European Commission, Europe for Citizens Programme, Strand2: Democratic engagement and civic participation.