Sep 29 2017

Macron’s Sorbonne Speech: JEF Europe pleased to hear federalist ideas

Category: News, Press Release

Brussels, 29 September 2017


French President Emmanuel Macron laid out an ambitious proposal for Europe on Tuesday. Instead of repairing the existing structure of the EU, as proposed by Commission President Juncker and his State of Union address two weeks ago, Macron laid out a vision which would rebuild a sovereign, united, and democratic Europe, requiring treaty changes. “We are pleased to see a head of state finally pushing for an earnest vision for the future of #OurEurope, supported by bold proposals, many of which mirror what Federalists have advocated for decennia”, says Christopher Glück, President of JEF Europe.  


In fact, many of the issues Macron argued in favour of have been crucial parts of Young European Federalists’ political platform. By calling for greater European integration and solidarity, he is in favour of more military cooperation, in the form of a common EU defense budget and a permanent common intervention force, closer ties between national intelligence agencies, and a European carbon tax to ensure environmental standards are respected in the Single market in addition to the convergence of the social models across Europe.  “The fact that transnational lists have been mentioned by Commission President Juncker and President Macron shows that the concept is appealing and convincing: We now call on the European Parliament to step up to Macron’s side and push for a European Council decision which allocates the 73 British seats to candidates from a European-wide joint constituency for the European Parliamentary Elections as early as 2019”, argues Leonie Martin, Vice-President of JEF Europe.


Macron’s eye for strengthening the supranational dimension and hence, making European policy-making led by the interests of citizens and less by intergovernmental disputes, can be seen again by the proposal to reduce the amount of Commissioners to 15 and even calling on old Member States to lead the way by renouncing first to their portfolio.


Likewise, democratic conventions are an initiative that is fully supported by JEF Europe in order to facilitate greater political participation of European citizens in the decision-making process. However, as it is currently proposed as volunteer participation for Member States we are concerned if it will be implemented throughout Europe. The European project should not be led without the approval and engagement of citizens. This is why we will need to make sure that all the voices in Europe are being heard by European leaders and not just some cities. Furthermore, the results of the conventions need to be purposeful for the development of a new institutional framework. On this note, we welcome that the transcript of the speech came with a summary in English. To truly trigger a pan-European debate though, it would be helpful to also disseminate an English translation of the speech.


JEF Europe sees Macron’s focus on youth as a good start at fostering European identity. We welcome the proposals that all young Europeans spend at least six months in another European country, all students speak two European languages by 2024 as well as ´ the creation of European Universities and establishing a process of harmonization or mutual recognition of secondary education diplomas - yet. We urge that this must be applied to all European youth and not only the privileged.


Furthermore, JEF Europe supports the idea of creating an EU asylum office aimed at speeding up and harmonizing the procedures as the only way to solve this current and future challenge is to be found at supranational level. However, France has lagged behind in the reception and treatment of refugees. We thus expect that the French President will lead by example and provide a more detailed plan of how Europeans can do better in welcoming and integrating refugees in our societies.


Young European Federalists have been informing and pushing for these federalist ideas for years. We are standing ready today to seize this chance and urge other European leaders, both EU institutions and heads of state and government to endorse this audacious path for Europe.


You can read the full transcript of the speech here in French and a English overview here.


More information on JEF Europe
The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO 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.

Contact information
JEF Europe Secretariat
25 Square de Meeûs
1000 Brussels - Belgium