Despite the current lack of enthusiasm at a political level in Europe for the Convention on the Human Rights of Migrant Workers, when Migrants Matter received an answer from the European Commission, I personally thought this first step had to represent something. I decided that the most interesting part of this first contact with the political sphere was, for me, not the actual answer to the question. It was not even the exact content of the question itself. Rather it was how we managed to ask the question, how the question has been asked, how it represents a new step in our fight to draw more attention to migrant workers conditions. What we learnt from this first experience, was, mainly, to continue chasing our goals.
At the beginning, the experience of the members of the Migrants Matter lobby group who were dropped into the Brussels Eurobubble - we who were full of good intentions, energised and excited by positive answers received from a few willing MEPs - was quite tricky. We wanted something from political actors that was very ambitious, something that we could not achieve by ourselves even if we wanted to; something to initiate the real change that only politicians were in a position to give. We were calling for a political awakening regarding this abandoned Convention and big reforms for migrants in the long run.
But first we had to understand the game we were about to play; a game whose rules you don’t really understand when you start. In this game there are two necessary, conflicting and complementary players and you have to choose to be one of the two. You have on one side those with the visible political authority to act, to decide and to vote for reforms. And on the other side there are those who, like us, do not have the public power of decision, but have an underground power of outreaching, proposing, drafting and pressuring. The moves of both players occur in accordance with the implicit common rule of acknowledging the role of the other.
So we played, we got our question published and we got an answer. A relatively disappointing one, but still. Having the chance to ask a question and get an answer from the relevant EU policymaker on the matter is already a little step forward.
Advocating, lobbying is a huge part of what we are, what we do, it is part of what we have been created for and what we accepted to do as a civil society actor. We created a campaign so as to create this political pressure on decision makers. We decided to be the witnesses and the watchdogs of migrants’ rights protection.
So, trust us, we will keep on calling…