[Statement] A dark day for the European project that needs to turn into a fresh start

JEF Europe deeply regrets the UK’s decision to leave the European Union and calls upon EU governments to make decisive steps for European integration.

Brussels, 29.03.2017 

For the Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe, as for all other friends of the European project, the Prime-Minister Theresa May’s decision to trigger Article 50 today marks a dark day in the history of the European project. It must, however, turn into a fresh start for the EU27 to make decisive steps to further integration way beyond the ideas set out in the Rome Declaration.

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JEF Europe supported the Remain campaign and its member section Young European Movement (YEM) UK efforts to achieve a positive outcome in this referendum and will continue to strengthen the nascent pro-European movement in the UK. Together with our friends in YEM UK, we will continue to live the spirit of European friendship and cooperation, to encourage European exchange and communication and to support all efforts aimed at securing a re-admission of the UK to the EU in the long run.  

However, it is clear for JEF Europe that in the negotiation process between the now EU27 and UK, the EU institutions need to focus on securing an outcome favourable to the remaining 27 Member States. JEF Europe calls upon the European institutions and the national governments to pursue one common and undivided negotiating strategy, making sure that no individual national interests hamper the unity of the 27. JEF Europe is adamant that the four freedoms of the European Union are indivisible and cannot be compromised by any agreement reached.

… but now it is time for us to move forward!

JEF Europe remains convinced that today not only marks the day of the beginning of negotiations on EU-UK relations but also the beginning of the future of the EU27. Even more important than a favourable outcome of the Article 50 negotiations is for the EU27 to address urgently the challenges it faces. To prove that it is not separation, but integration that will help Europe overcome internal and external challenges, the remaining Member States have to use this opportunity to advance political integration and find common solutions.

The Rome Declaration published last weekend bythe leaders of the 27 Member States, the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission, is not the promising document we had hoped for it to be. The document refers mainly to security and economics, leaving out the necessary proposals for a more democratic Union and other urgent challenges such as climate change, youth unemployment, rising hate crimes and populism, and  issues linked to digitalisation.  At the time where a true vision for the future of Europe and its citizens is needed, it does not spell out the advantages of ambitious reform and integration and, despite expressing the will to engage with national parliaments, does not mention the role of the European Parliament, as voice of the citizens, once. The Rome declaration is all about intention, while remaining unclear on concepts and plans. This reveals a classic intergovernmental process where leaders try to accommodate national interests, while failing at producing a sound proposal that would be able to inspire hope and confidence in the European project. As a result, the document is a series of words, sometimes contradictory to each other, reflecting the divisions among the 27 and leaving the European citizens completely uninvolved. We need more than that and we need it urgently. This is why we call upon national governments to be bolder and to take inspiration from the important reports of the European Parliament on the future of the EU as published earlier this year.

Now it is time to look ahead. For too long the British question has held off all important reform projects in the European Union. JEF Europe therefore calls upon the governments of the EU27 to make urgent and decisive steps towards a true political, economic and fiscal union, starting with an ambitious reform of the Eurozone, the creation of a European framework for migration and decisive steps towards a common European defence.


Press contact:

JEF Europe Secretariat


+32 2 512 00 53

Photo credit to YEM UK