Brussels, 9th May 2018
“We must resist the dangerous belief that the status quo is sustainable. The EU as it stands is far from perfect and in desperate need of an institutional reform. Our window of opportunity is now”, argues Emma Farrugia, Executive Board Member of JEF Europe. The history of European integration is one of leaps forward and road bumps, and yet undeniably a historic achievement against all odds. For sixty-eight years, by working together as one Union, we maintained peace in Europe, fostered greater intercultural understanding and solidarity, improved the prosperity and welfare of our citizens.
The EU as it stands, however, is a system full of cracks. Whether it’s the fall of the rule of Law and the rise of strongman populism, or the disheartening results of some national elections, democracy in the Nation-State is showing the ravages of time. The current institutional structures are unable to define and answer the societal challenges of the 21st century and incomplete integration has resulted in imbalances and tensions, as we have witnessed during the hardships of the Euro crisis.
In the words of Robert Schuman, whose speech on 9th May 1950 at the Quai d’Orsay laid the foundations of Europe as we know it, ‘Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity’. His proposal to pool Franco-German production of coal and steel was intended to ‘lead to the realisation of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace’. Only by taking courageous steps to further European integration will we be able to find European solutions to European challenges, thus fulfilling the vision of our founding fathers.
The window of opportunity has presented itself now and if we neglect to take it, the alternative is not the continuation of the status quo, but the model of authoritarian, illiberal democracy.
On the 9th of May, 1950, Robert Schuman - then French Minister for Foreign Affairs - held a speech at the Quai d’Orsay where he foresaw the pooling of French and German coal and steel production as a way to render war between European neighbours materially impossible, and as a first step toward the political unity of the Continent. This idea became the European Coal and Steel Community - whose founding members were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - and which later evolved into the European Union we know today. Europe Day celebrates, in 2018, sixty-eight years from the Declaration, paying tribute to a significant landmark in the history European integration. On this very same day, the JEF network commemorates and celebrates this historical moment in European integration through various activities, campaigns and street actions.
In 2018, we also celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Congress of Europe in The Hague, where representatives from dozens of European countries gathered to discuss how to broaden European political cooperation. For this reason, the local, regional and national sections of JEF Europe (either individually or as alliances) have been invited to take part in the 70 Europe Day 2018 Challenges, in honour of the first federalist moment in European history and to foster stronger relationships within the JEF network.
More information on JEF Europe
The Young European Federalists (JEF-Europe) is a non-partisan youth NGO with 13.000 members active in more than 35 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was re-founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.
JEF Europe Secretariat
+32 2 512 00 53