Take a stand in Europe for binational couples

-the 2016 edition of the ECB (European Conference for Binational-Bicultural relationship)-

Our network meet every year or every two years to exchange data on the situation of binational couples and families, to debate on diversity or immigration policy and furthermore to imagine cross-european projects to raise awareness on the situation of binational couples and families.

 

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This year les Amoureux au ban public organised and hosted the 2016 ECB. The aims of this year's edition were both to take decisions to improve the field of action of the network and to discuss on different topics surrounding the theme of binational couples&families.



The member-ogranisations were given the opportunity to express propositions to reinforce the ECB network. The discussion was divided into three thematic: Communication, Common Aims and Governance

 

 

 

 During a workshop untitled "How is it in your country?", member-organisation exchanged on the legislation concerning the rights of binational couples and families of their country they represented. This exchange gave the opportunity to conclude that throughout Europe there are disparities regarding such legislation. While in Switzerland some binational couples are no permitted to marry when one of the spouse is undocumented, others can. While in Danemark the national spouse need to prove sufficient income to sponsor their foreign spouse to reside in the so country others need to prove marital life for 6 or 12 months to reside.

More importantly, today in Europe the right to marry and the right to private life are still denied! The ungoing suspiscion of the administration of binational relationships unables couples and families to be united in the country of their choice.

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The conference opened its doors to the public throughout three workshops. The first on the promotion of diversity the second on advocacy at the European level for binational couples and the third on the article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

 

-On the promotion of diversity-

What means to promote diversity and multiculturalism? Do we promote, advocate, or defend it, or more simply live every day diversity? What should we really promote: A concept, a principle, an attitude, a thought or an ideology? And who are we to take this responsibility? Binational families, NGOs, activists, politicians, citizens? From where comes this moral obligation: Medias, institutions, personal stories, the rise of xenophobia?

 

-On the role of statistics-

They can stop us for getting married, but they cannot stop us from having a family life. Binational couples is a reality we cannot ignore. Eurostat lacks of any single official statistics on binational couples, and one of the reason, among others, is the political class is interested in hiding our demographic weight. Politics continue propping up the rumours and clichés that criminalise us in society: such as the "shame marriage". Obtaining statistical information on “mixed demography” is almost impossible. Some countries do not collect or publish necessary variables such as "nationality" or "country of birth" in relevant events (e.g.: births, marriages, divorces).

 

- On the legal aspect of private and family life-

The ENB organisations have a common experience regarding the extensive suspicion of fraud from our States towards binational couples. This suspicion is use to justify the multiplication of control and inquiries by public administrations reversing the burden of proof and therefore forcing binational couples to expose their own private and family life by giving extensive proofs of their relationship. In Europe, it seems as all the jurisidictions and public administrations have a very restrictive vision of the scope of article 8 ECHR. In fact, immigration controls being a major issue on a national level, the European Court of Human Rights tend to consider that there is no European consensus on the scope of art 8. This absence of consensus justifies the margin of appreciation allowed for Member States significantly affecting the right of binational couples to the respect of their private and family life. Would expecting a case to go to Strasbourg be realistic in this context?

 

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The network decided to organise a common action for the Loving day (12th June). The Loving day celebrates the decision of the Supreme Court of the United State recognising the legality of inter-racial marriage. Our network believe that creating powerful actions on that day will allow to raise awareness on the right for binational couples and families to live in the country of their choice. The network will announce next spring more on their action!