European Movement – Latvia, founded in 1997, is one of the biggest and most influential NGOs in Latvia working in the political sphere. EML works in order to
- to support civil society development and its participation in EU related decision-making both in Latvia and in Europe
- improve representation of Latvia’s and its civil society interests in the EU and cooperation with other European countries, European Neighbourhood and Developing Countries
- foster European awareness and values in Latvia
The EML has approx 700 members (private persons and legal entities). The anual congress is the highest decision making body. The congress elects a board consisting of 9 persons incl. president and vice president, who are in charge for the implementation of the work programme. The work of the non-payed board is supported by office employees and volunteers. Currently 2 full time project managers, 1 full time volunteer, 1 bookkeeper, approx. 5-10 volunteers working on specific projects.
The EML finances (approx. 60 000 EUR in 2015) are based on membership fees, donations, projects and service contracts. Income sources are diverted and no specific dominance of a certain donor can be identified.
Main projects 2015: EML hosts a volunteer through the Erasmus+ programme, has a 3 year project from the Socitey Integreation Foundation on administrative costs and basic activities (finishing Dec. 2015), Integration projects with the Ministry of Culture, Service contracts (Mobile express with discussions in Schools, EU information provider Forum etc.) with the European Commission in Latvia and the European Parliament.
Institutional Partners: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Parliament (especially European Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Social and Education Committees), Ministry of Education and its Agencies, Ministry of Culture, Agency Jaunatnes Starptautisko programmu aģentūra.
Non-institutional: NGO and Government Cooperation Council and its member organistations (EML is elected member of the Council), NGO and Parliament cooperataion Forum team (elected member), Civic Alliance Latvia (founding member), Latvian Platform for Development Cooperation (LAPAS) (Founding member), European Movement International ((member).
The EML regularly carries out greater and smaller projects, some of which are already a trademark of the organization, as well as various non-project activities. Examples are:
– European of the Year in Latvia – project dating back to 1998, with a public vote for the person who has most contributed to strengthening links between Latvia and the rest of Europe. The contest has attracted wide public and media attention. Prominent people from different fields hold the title, including former President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, singers Renārs Kaupers and Marija Naumova, current EU Development Commissionner Andris Piebalgs, etc.
– Europe Day. The EML started the tradition celebrating the Europe Day in Latvia back in 1998 together with youth organization Club “The House” – Youth for United Europe. The EML not only assists in preparing and takes part in the EU festivities in Vērmanes Garden (Rīga), but also organizes public events in the regions as well as high-level discussions, conferences and receptions.
– European Voluntary Service (EVS) and promotion of the European Year of Volunteering in schools. Since 2008, the EML is an accredited EVS sending organization, but a hosting organization already since 2006. So far EML has hosted five international volunteers and has sent more than 25 Latvian volunteers to other European countries. The EML actively promotes the program at various youth events, and in 2010-2011 it also carried out a series of presentations on volunteerism and EVS in more than 50 regional schools.
– Work with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). A particular priority for the EML is fully implementing Article 11 of the Treaty on European Union.
– Strengthening civil society in Latvia. The EML stands for strong and active civil society as well as open and democratic public governance. The EML, often in cooperation with other civil society partners, has already achieved several improvements in existing mechanisms of participation. Now a top priority is developing and implementing a new, unified model (mechanism) of civic participation which would encompass regional, national and EU/international levels. The work has been underway since 2009, with the EML being constantly involved at the highest level. The EML sustains cooperation with the Saeima (Parliament), the Cabinet of Ministers and the State Chancellery, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Science (national coordinator of the European Year of Volunteering) and other governance institutions, as well as with the European Parliament Information Office in Latvia and the Representation of the European Commission in Latvia.
– Information activities. The EML regularly publishes news and updates on its webpage, as well as electronically distributes its weekly newsletter (more than 2 300 recipients). The organization cooperates with Latvian and foreign mass media, takes part in and organizes public events, etc.
The EML has a Newsletter published every second week and reaching out to more than 2500 opinion leaders in Latvia, including NGOs, civil servants, decision makers and multipliers. The EML has strong interests in promoting democratic values and share experience with other partners incl. in less privilaged regions and countries. The EML, thourhg its work in the NGO and Government Cooperation Council and the NGO and Parliament Cooperation Forum has great cooperation with a wide NGO sector and others, which can be of use for the joint values covering EML and the Network.
The EML has followed the work of the ALF Network for several years. Participation in ALF related events is a regular activity for the EML. With an increasing challanges for the EU, Europe and its neighbours an increased cooperation is needed to solve joint challanges and to contribute to a sustainable, peaceful and democratic continent and world which is based on human dignity. The membership in the ALF Network can be an additional tool in information exchange and joint project design for the above mentioned aims.