A group of eight freelance professionals (two translators, a training specialist, a psychologist, a journalist, an interpreter and two corporate consultants) while trying to come up with local initiatives for their freelance associations in the months to come, said to each other:
Why don’t we organise something together with other freelance groups in the European Union?
At that point, Francesca from Italy's ACTA called Joel from Germany's VGSD and Matija from Croatia's HNPD to see if they wanted to revive the idea of a European Freelancers Week - an idea long discussed, but that had never got off the ground. Joel firmly believes:
If three people believe in a project, then that project is bound to become reality.
And, in fact, the project began to take shape, with attempts to involve other national associations of freelance professionals, in addition to those of Italy, Germany and Croatia. Fellow freelancers in Holland, Belgium, Romania and Poland expressed enthusiastic intent to participate, as did freelancers in Spain. Along with a number of Coworking spaces and networks. Plus the organisers of Turin’s Freelance Day, which has taken on the status of a well-established event. The SMart network, both in Belgium and Italy, also joined in.
But why would a local association of freelancers feel the need for a European Week in the first place, especially nowadays, when European-wide initiatives meet with so little love and success?
My personal experience has shown me that my fellow freelancers are not only professionals in Rome and Milan, along with the members and activists of my ACTA association, but also those of the European associations with which I stay in contact throughout the year. We work on joint projects, we draw up proposals to obtain European-Union financing, we laugh together, we learn together, we pick each other’s brains.
We freelancers do this among ourselves, but also with the Coworking movement, which, in a number of ways, is ahead of us in terms of networking.
In short, working in terms of European-wide networks has become standard practice for us, seeing that we could never set out to propose initiatives on the national level, such as legislative measures or improvements in social welfare systems, without knowing how such proposals have functioned elsewhere. It just might be that someone else has discovered how to fit the square peg into the round hole, how to strike a balance between freedom and social rights, between economic and social sustainability. Must a decent pension system for freelance workers throughout Europe remain an illusory dream?
The freelance sector is expanding throughout Europe, with a great many of us living in one European country but working in another European market. And we do this in the most natural way possible. We are used to working together, without any pointless rhetorical flourishes. And in the same trouble-free manner, without the need for any flowery pronouncements, the proposed European Freelancers Week, or EFW, was born.
For once it was something not proposed from above, by any centralised authority, but put together on the local level, indeed on the various local levels of different European-Union countries, by flesh and blood professionals who, in addition to carrying on their own working activities – as journalists, translators, communications experts – have decided to propose to the local freelance and co-working associations of the European Union that events of training and mobilization, as well as encounters for the making of proposals, the exchange of ideas and in-depth study, be held during the week of October 17th to October 23rd 2016. To gauge our numbers, to exchange opinions, to learn, to have fun, to make ourselves heard, to improve, to build bridges and reduce differences.
To gauge our numbers, to exchange opinions, to learn, to have fun, to make ourselves heard, to improve, to build bridges and reduce differences. Nothing less than a week in which the European freelance movement lays its cards on the table and makes it voice heard.
Doing things alone is difficult, while doing them together is not only easier, but more rewarding and fun as well.
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