North West Infrastructure Partnership visit to Brussels
23 May 2012
The North West Infrastructure Partnership (NWIP) visited Brussels in May 2012 to discover more about the EU funding programmes available, how to influence the next round of funding due to start in 2014, how the European Parliament works and ways that local groups can contact and influence MEPs with specialist interests and responsibilities.
'I discovered that lobbying our government on European funding was as important as lobbying Brussels. I have seen and heard about what Europe does and the programmes it supports, and the visit has made me a much stronger believer in Europe.
I will be cascading the information I gained to the local sector and to my colleagues so they can understanding better how to access and influence European funding.' Chris Heard, GMCVO
The NWIP group with Derek Vaughn, MEP for Wales and Arlene McCarthy, MEP for the North West
Val Jones - Social Enterprise North West
Monsignor John Devine OBE - North West Forum of Faiths
Darren Knight - Lesbian & Gay Foundation
Jeannie Gardiner - Cheshire Community Action
Christine Baker - Learning Together Cheshire and Warrington
Chris Heard - GMCVO
John Hacking - Network for Europe
Angeliki Stogia - Network for Europe
Martin Preston - VSNW
Helen Walker - VSNW
Merseyside Brussels Office
James Sharples gave the group an overview of the current European funding picture and how this applies to the North West. There are still some remaining opportunities for this current funding round so if any North West organisations are interested, they can email James at: email@example.com. There was also an update on the negotiations for the new funding programme to start in 2014 and how this may impact funding in the North West. James Sharples presentation can be downloaded (PDF Format): Click Here
Meeting with European Parliament MEPs
Arlene McCarthy - As an MEP for the North West and Vice Chair of the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Arlene summarised her current busy work schedule and went onto describe the particular priority areas she has for European funding. Arlene asked for suggestions of innovative ways to match fund, apart from matching with money, so these can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, she wants to make sure that regional funds are still available and that a lack of match funding does not lead to a cancellation of funds.
Derek Vaughn - He has been an MEP for Wales since 2009 and sits on the Committee on Budgets. Previously he has been the leader of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and this gave him an appreciation of working with the voluntary and community sector. In fact, they were the first council to agree a Compact with the local VCS. He was currently involved in discussions about the budget for the next round of European funding. Derek will raise again simplication with funding applications and agreed with a view of harmonising rules, using both flat rate and lump sum funding, and a single portal for applications. Any suggestions for how the funding system should be changed can be sent to email@example.com.
Linda McAvan - As an MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber, Linda is spokesperson for the Socialist & Democrat Group on the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. She has a special interest in climate change and spoke about this to the group. She commented that the green economy is an opportunity for countries to invest in this new technology and the area of renewable energy is an opportunity for VCS groups to be involved.
'Thanks for organising such a useful trip and also for the opportunity to meet new people'. Val Jones, Social Enterprise North West
ILGA Europe Event – 15 May 2012
Whilst in Brussels with NWIP, Darren Knight attended the launch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Europe’s first Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People in Europe 2011.
At the event, the Director of ILGA Europe talked about the continued importance of data and evidence when focussed on human rights advocacy across the board. However ILGA had intended to add the reality and current situation behind the legislation that has been introduced.
EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström underlined the need for vigilance in fighting homophobia. She highlighted that "There is a lack of courage, a lack of commitment and a failure to take our values seriously. This holds true for politicians, governments, companies, but also for ordinary citizens. Far too many of us decide not to stand up for our beliefs but to look the other way”.
The event also included a speech from Heather Graby from Open Society who highlighted that whilst the EU and US have changed behaviours by enforcing legislation…attitudes may or may not follow!
It was highlighted at the event that there’s a perception or underlying feeling that LGB&T people have achieved equality through the fact that rights have been granted; but it is the change of societal attitudes, understanding and education that will truly change the lives of LGB&T people and something that we all collectively need to work together in order to embed.
You can check out a video of the event here: http://vimeo.com/42260435
A map published by ILGA which identifies Lesbian and Gay rights in the world is available to download: http://ilga.org/ilga/en/article/1161
The group was given a tour of the European Parliament with an explanation of its history and its day to day workings. A copy of the European Parliament presentation can be downloaded (PDF Format) from: Click Here
The group 'voting' in the European Parliament!