On December 15 and 16, 1946 the Union of European Federalists was officially brought into life with its function being to co-ordinate and intensify the activities of the different movements and to organize them into a federal structure. Since then UEF has been active at the European, national and local levels for the past 70 years. It was founded shortly after World War II with the belief that only a European Federation, based on the idea of unity in diversity, could overcome the division of the European continent that had caused the suffering and destruction of the two World Wars. Federalists believed that only a common effort of European citizens working towards this goal could create a peaceful and democratic Europe guaranteeing freedom and the protection of human rights.
70 YEARS OF FEDERALIST CAMPAIGNS FOR A UNITED AND FEDERAL EUROPE!
THE FEDERALIST BEGINNINGS IN THE POST-WAR PERIOD | 1946
In the post-war period, building a European federation seemed to be the obvious way forward. In 1943, Altiero Spinelli founded the first federalist movement in Italy. On 15 December 1946, the Union of European Federalists was officially brought into life to co-ordinate and intensify the activities of the different federalist movements across Europe. They campaigned for a “United States of Europe,” as an alternative to the divisions, which fostered the devastating war. The European Coal and Steal Community was eventually created in 1951, but with a much narrower scope than the federalists hoped.
FOR THE EUROPEAN FEDERAL PACT | 1949-1950
This period focused the federalists campaigning on the transformation of the Advisory Assembly of the Council of Europe into the Constituent Assembly of a European Federation. Their fundamental tool was a petition, which was signed by thousands of citizens and a large number of eminent politicians, which asked the Advisory Assembly to draw up a proposal for a federal pact among key European countries.
FOR A EUROPEAN DEFENSE COMMUNITY | 1950-1954
The federalist movements inspired and then supported plans for a pan-European defence organisation, to be set-up by France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and Netherlands, and complemented by a “European Political Community”. The plan was not ratified by the French Parliament and it took until the ‘90s to resume progress towards European Foreign and Security Policy.
FOR A UNITED EUROPE WITHOUT BORDERS | 1950-1954
During the 1950s, federalists rallied for a Europe without borders. During the first action, on 24 August 1950, French and German students met at the Weiler and Zollamt border crossing, breaking off the barriers separating their countries. It took until 1985 for the Schengen agreement to scrap border controls.
THE CONGRESS OF THE EUROPEAN PEOPLE | 1956-1962
Unhappy that European ambitions had narrowed to a “Common Market”, federalists called on European citizens to vote. Federalists demanded a European constituent assembly to draw up a draft federal constitution, ratified by a Europe-wide referendum. Hundreds of meetings and “polling stations” for citizens to vote where organized across Europe.
ACTION EUROPE! | 1965-1984
The work on campaigning for open borders in the early 1950s was continued through the next two decades. European federalists organised numerous actions on the border crossings within Europe. On 21 May 1983, leaflets were distributed on the border between Strasbourg and Kehl and symbolic border bars were burnt to call for the abolishment of borders. The Schengen agreement was signed on 14 June 1985.
FOR DIRECT ELECTIONS TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT | 1967-1972
The campaign for the direct election to the European Parliament started in the mid-nineteen sixties. The most notable initiative was a popular petition, signed by 65,000 signatories, for the direct election of Italian representatives in the European Parliament. The first direct election of the European Parliament eventually took place in 1979.
CAMPAIGN FOR A SINGLE EUROPEAN CURRENCY | 1977 – 1990
In June 1977, demonstrators in Brussels showed their support of the single currency and the election of the European Parliament through universal suffrage. Thereafter federalists consistently campaigned for a European currency, until a decision was eventually taken by the member states in Rome in 1990.
CAMPAIGN FOR EUROPEAN DEMOCRACY | 1980-1996
For two decades federalists petitioned the European authorities and held demonstrations during the most important European Councils’ meetings. Federalists demanded a transformation of the European Communities into a political union. An important achievement was the approval of the Spinelli Treaty by the European Parliament in 1984. In 1985, 100,000 citizens gathered in Milan when the Single Market was adopted. In 1989, with 120,000 petition signatures, federalists initiated a consultative referendum in Italy on the constituent role of the European Parliament, which obtained 90% of citizens’ support.
FOR A EUROPEAN UNION | 1992
On 8 December 1991, while the heads of member states’ governments negotiated the Treaty on European Union, Maastricht was crowded with federalists. A meeting, addressed by the Commission President Jacques Delors was followed by a march back to the town centre. The popular decision to create the European currency and to move from the European Communities to the European Union was taken there.
CAMPAIGN FOR A EUROPEAN CONSTITUTION | 1997-2006
This campaign enjoyed particular strength, with a demonstration involving 10,000 participants occurred in Nice on 7 December 2000. The governments summoned a European Convention, chaired by Giscard d’Estaing, which prepared a draft European Constitution. Despite its positive features, it was diluted by member states and eventually defeated by referendum in France and in The Netherlands.
WHO IS YOUR CANDIDATE? | 2009
The “Who is your candidate?” campaign fought for a transparently and democratically elected President of the European Commission and challenged European political parties to nominate their candidate before the elections. This campaign was spurred by the belief that the President of the European Commission should be chosen by the European Parliament and, by implication, by the voters of the European member states. It was not until the 2014 elections that this process developed.
FEDERAL UNION NOW! | 2011
Federalists campaigned to re-open the debate on European political union and for a decisive move towards a federal Europe, in the conviction that only a strong European government could tackle the economic crisis.
TOWARDS FEDERAL EUROPE | 2014
With the campaign “Towards Federal Europe” federalists invited citizens to vote in the European elections for those candidates and political parties that supported further European economic and political integration. We urged the European parties and candidates to support federalist proposals to make the election truly European, work for a democratic union, restore the European economy and strengthen Europe’s role in the world.
Histoire de l’UEF.be
Les origines de l’UEF.be remontent à la fin des années 1980, lorsqu’une poignée de militants fédéralistes francophones se regroupait autour de la Sénatrice Mme Angèle Verdin-Leenaers qui, à partir de ce moment là, assumait la présidence du groupe.
Parallèlement, une « coupole » ou « association de fait », sans ni de statuts ni de personnalité juridique, permettait une coordination au niveau belge de deux
organisations fédéralistes, la section francophone de Mme Verdin et son
homologue néerlandophone. Cette « coupole » a été présidée par M. Willy De
Clerq (du début des années 1990 jusqu’en 1999), et ensuite par M. Fernand
Herman (de 1999 à 2005).
En 1994, M. Hubert de Viron accepte la proposition de Mme Verdin de reprendre
le flambeau et, par la même occasion, la présidence du petit groupe de militants
fédéralistes francophones (une association de fait), dans le but de mieux
regrouper les membres autour d’actions ciblées. Ainsi, plusieurs conférences sur
l’intégration européenne sont alors organisées et un bulletin reprenant divers
articles fédéralistes est publié.
La section croît considérablement et l’engagement fédéraliste aussi. Après une
longue expérience associative et sous l’impulsion de M. Fernand Herman, le 9
mai 2001 l’UEF-Belgique francophone est juridiquement constituée et devient
une A.S.B.L. proprement dite. Cette nouvelle phase répond au besoin de
structurer davantage le groupe de membres et militants, et de mieux développer
la stratégie des fédéralistes à l’avenir.
M. Hubert de Viron en assure la présidence de 2001 jusqu’en 2003, lorsque
l’Assemblée générale élit M. Michele Ciavarini Azzi au poste de président.
Enfin, suite au décès du regretté Fernand Herman, l’Assemblée générale de
l’UEF-Belgique francophone, réunie le 17 juin 2006, vote à l’unanimité
d’importants changements statutaires, dont la modification de son appellation,
afin de mieux répondre aux besoins de l’action fédéraliste en Belgique. Ainsi naît
l’UEF-Belgique ou « UEF.be ».