About the #WelcomingEurope campaign

Since our governments are struggling to handle migration, we – European citizens, students, volunteers, families, unions and communities of faith from all walks of life – have stepped in to help.

But our right to help is being criminalised as Europeans are being arrested, fined and intimidated for simply offering humanitarian assistance to people fleeing persecution.

This is not the Europe that we want. Together we can reclaim those acts for what they are: reflecting our European and human values of community, compassion and kindness.

This is why we have joined forces to launch the first European Citizens’ Initiative to empower a #WelcomingEurope and reclaim our right to help. Through this direct democracy tool, we can compel the European Commission and Parliament to respond to our demands if we obtain 1 million signatures.

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No one should be prosecuted or fined for offering humanitarian help or shelter. We want the Commission to stop those governments that are punishing volunteers.

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Everyone has the right to justice. We want the Commission to guarantee more effective ways and rules to defend all victims of labour exploitation and crime across Europe and all victims of human rights abuses at our borders.

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Citizens across Europe want to sponsor refugees to offer them a safe home and a new life. We want the Commission to offer direct support to local groups that help refugees who are granted national visas.

The context and history to this initiative

EU migration and civil society NGOs, coordinated by Migration Policy Group for the EU NGO Platform on Asylum and Migration (EPAM), have taken two years to prepare a strategically timed European Citizens’ Initiative. A coalition of over 170 civil society organisations across Europe has now been formed to engage the public and transform EU migration policy.

Today, we, the citizens of Europe, are raising our voices to change the discourse on migration and build a Europe that welcomes those in need and reflects our principles of solidarity, dignity and human rights.

What do we want to achieve?

The goal is to secure 1 million signatures and public support by February 2019 to pass key EU migration reform priorities as part of the 2019 European elections. The asks focus on community sponsorship, decriminalising service-provision and defending victims of labour exploitation and human rights abuses.

What is an ECI?

The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) is the most visible and legally binding tool for direct democracy in Europe. If 1 million signatures are obtained within a year from EU citizens in at least seven states, then the European Parliament must offer a public hearing and the European Commission is obliged to respond to the proposal.