lt was around the 1950s that the first groups of young federalists appeared as a youth section of the Union of European Federalists. The Young European Federalists organized themselves into JEF sections, establishing a new European structure with a European office in Paris in 1949. Despite the split within the federalist movement in the 1950s, the various JEF groups carried on with their work on local, regional and national levels even if there was no more any international JEF organization.
In 1967, young people held mock negotiations in Brussels to work out a treaty of accession for the UK to the Community. In March 1969 they organized a demonstration on the spectators’ benches of the European Parliament, demanding its direct elections by universal suffrage. In many European countries protest demonstrations were organized against the dictatorship in Greece. These activities helped the first groups of young federalists to set up very close collaboration and to tighten their links again. This collaboration took concrete form in the creation of JEF’s liaison office in 1970. It was there that the international association took the name of ‘Young European Federalists' and the founding Congress was held in Luxembourg on 25 and 26 March 1972.
Even though JEF was still interested in the European Community, new topics became increasingly important for JEF in the 70’s: direct election of the European Parliament, East-West reunification and enlargement, disarmament, women, the environment and international development issues.
In 1985, when Jacques Delors became President of the European Commission and launched the idea of the Single Market, institutional questions became important in the discussion in JEF since it seemed that a real European Democracy can be established in a short time and JEF said of itself: Young Europeans, simply a generation ahead, which is still the JEF motto nowadays.
In the 90s three basic developments influenced the work and the discussions of JEF: 1) the return of nationalist wars in Europe; 2) the crisis of legitimacy of the European integration process, highlighted by the Danish referendum in 1992, the lost Norwegian referendum in 1994 and the negative attitude of a majority of EU citizens towards the Euro; 3) the open questions on the enlargement of the European Union.
Since 2000s, JEF-Europe has worked a lot on institutional issues calling for a European federal constitution and a more democratic Europe. Another major area of interest for JEF is the defense of human rights and the respect of the state of law especially with our yearly Belarus action since 2006.