THE TIME IS NOW – COFOE, issue 1/22

“We want the CoFoE to open up a new phase, a phase of participation, but also of change. To change the rules, because we have seen in this year and a half that there cannot be taboos. European democracy must be more efficient and effective.” – EP President SASSOLI

THE TIME IS NOW, UEF’s fortnightly newsletter on the Conference on the Future of Europe!
Issue 1/2022

Learn more about the Conference’s latest news and activities related to rebuilding the EU!

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1. Citizens’ panel proposals on climate change, environment and health

Citizens proposed ways to improve health, fight climate change and protect the environment at a forum held in Warsaw on 7-9 January.

As part of the Conference on the Future of Europe, Warsaw hosted some 200 Europeans on 7-9 January 2022, who came for the third and final session of the European citizens’ panel dedicated to climate change, environment and health. Due to the current Covid-19 situation, some panel members joined remotely.

Panellists discussed their recommendations in five areas:

  • Better ways of living
  • Protecting our environment and our health
  • Redirecting our economy
  • Redirecting overproduction and overconsumption
  • Caring for all

Participants voted on 64 recommendations: 51 were approved, while 13 did not reach the required 70% support threshold.

Read the full list of approved recommendations of this panel.

2. The citizen’s proposal for transnational lists divides MEPs

The proposal to establish transnational lists for the elections to the European Parliament, divided last Wednesday the MEPs who analyzed the citizen recommendations of the CoFoE.

The citizens set in their conclusions the desire for an election to the Parliament, where voters could vote for different parties of European level, including candidates from several Member States.

Guy Verhofstadt, saw behind this point a demand to implement transnational lists. However, the EPP MEP Paulo Rangel accused Verhofstadt of carrying out « an abusive interpretation » of the citizen recommendations, since, according to him, the conclusions of the CoFoE do not explicitly mention the pan-European lists.

On the other hand, Renew, Greens and Social Democrats were in favor of moving towards the pan-European lists and, in addition, UEF Vice-President and S&D MEP Domènec Ruiz Devesa also valued very positively the proposal to reopen the debate on the European Constitution, set in the conclusions of the CoFoE citizen panels.
 

3. Ten issues to watch in 2022

This EPRS publication seeks to put into context and offer insights on 10 key issues and policy areas that have the potential to feature prominently in public debate and on the political agenda of the European Union in 2022. Issue number 8 talks about the outcomes of the CoFoE. 

If Treaty change is not on the horizon in the short term, then a scenario of ‘soft’ reforms could be considered, whereby some changes could be introduced by leveraging the full potential of the current Treaties. This would mean exploring the unused potential of the Treaties in several fields, from overcoming unanimity through qualified majority voting, using passerelle clauses to strengthen the EU dimension of European elections, or improving decision-making on the common foreign and security policy. In this respect, Parliament has already contributed in 2017 with a resolution offering a useful starting point, proposing for instance to limit the intergovernmental approach, make more frequent use of its own right of legislative initiative, reduce the number of Council configurations, and transform Council into a genuine legislative chamber. A mechanism to follow up on the conference’s conclusions is also a possibility, in order to bring in ‘soft’ reforms.

One possible innovation is the introduction of a permanent participatory mechanism to involve citizens in EU decision-making beyond the traditional electoral period.
 

4. What’s Next?

The recommendations of the European Citizens’ Panels will be presented and discussed at the Conference Plenary, where the Conference’s final proposals will continue to be shaped.

The next Conference Plenary is set to take place on 21-22 January in Strasbourg. In the meantime, the Plenary Working Groups met on Friday 17 December in remote format to continue their preparatory work. Citizens across Europe can also continue to take part in the Conference through the Multilingual Digital Platform.

The remaining European Citizens’ Panels will also be adopting their recommendations in the near future, in the following areas:

  • Panel 1 – A stronger economy, social justice and jobs / Education, culture, youth, sport / Digital transformation (to be held in Dublin, Ireland)
  • Panel 4 – EU in the world / Migration (to be held in Maastricht, The Netherlands).
     

5. Opinion articles and Papers

EURACTIV: Democratization of Democracy: The Conference on the Future of Europe as a Role Model?

In the recent years there has been much talk about the erosion of liberal democracy, which has been manifested in various disturbing developments: from decreasing trust of citizens in the institutions of representative democracy and decreasing voter turnout to the growing political and societal polarization and the rise of the populist radical Right that promotes ethnic nationalism and attacks civil rights and individual liberties. In general, these developments have often been portrayed as signs of citizens’ dissatisfaction with democracy. – Filip Milacic is a senior researcher at the Friedrich ­Ebert­ Stiftung’s office for “The Democracy of the Future” in Vien­na. 

EURACTIV: Our time to shape Europe

Taking into consideration the crises that the European Union has been through in the last decade, it’s obvious that the dialogue concerning its future is more than required. In any case, such a process shall now include the “voices” and concerns of the EU citizens and not just be a product of the EU institutions and member states. – Angelanna Andreou, Lefteris Vasilopoulos and Pinelopi Katsigianni are members of JEF Piraeus-Athens.

EURACTIV: Reforming Europe means getting out of the Brussels bubble 

Responding to the democratic crisis is just as important as tackling the climate emergency. This is why we fought for the Conference on the Future of Europe, despite the reluctance of those who fear consulting citizens on the European issue, write Guy Verhofstadt and Pascal Durand. – Guy Verhofstadt and Pascal Durand are members of the European Parliament for the Renew Europe group.

GEOPOLITIQUE: Citizen Power Europe

The CoFoE could be the beginning of a process that values the creation of democratic citizen-centric ecosystems, inhabited by participatory processes increasing participants’ sense of efficacy in politics while addressing the most intractable issues of our times. In this new paper written by Alberto Alemanno and Kalypso Nicolaidis they explain why. 

EU LAW LIVE: Op-Ed: “The Future of the Rule of Law in Europe” by Jakub Jaraczewski

Protection of the rule of law in Europe requires going beyond what we already have in the EU rule of law toolbox and beyond merely Brussels. We need to expand and improve. We should start with listening to what people who live in the EU have to say. The recent European Citizen’s Panel ‘European democracy / Values and rights, rule of law, security’ organised as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe proposed two excellent recommendations.

HUFFINGTON POST: La “congiuntura astrale” mai così favorevole per cambiare l’Ue

Conditions for the success of the operation are the electoral victory of Macron, the permanence of Draghi at Palazzo Chigi, and their triangulation with Scholz

BRUSSELS TIMES: A frank assessment of the Conference on the Future of Europe

At the first meeting of EU ambassadors of the New Year, the CoFoE was not even on the agenda. As France currently holds the EU presidency and CoFoE was the brainchild of President Emmanuel Macron this was a surprising omission.

EURACTIV: Leadership in times of crisis starts by fixing the EU’s democratic deficit

As we enter 2022, it is 30 years since Citizenship of the EU was first introduced during the Maastricht Treaty negotiations. This led to the creation of the first transnational citizenship, affording all EU citizens with rights, freedoms and legal protections, write Suzana Carp and Justin Goshorn.

EURACTIV: European communities and their view on the future of Europe

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a chance to address the most prominent issues in Europe’s regions and translate them into proposals for the future of the bloc, regional stakeholders say.

EURACTIV: Local communities mull EU treaty change in bloc-wide democracy experiment

The success of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) depends on the geographical spread and depth of the debate and proper follow-up, EU stakeholders warn.

PRESS RELEASE: European Parliament President David SASSOLI passes away

Brussels, 11 January 2021

European Parliament (EP) President David SASSOLI has passed away at age 65. 

Born in Florence on 30 May 1956, SASSOLI studied political science before starting work as a newspaper and news agency journalist.

The father of two began working for national broadcaster RAI in 1992, rising through the ranks to become a familiar face for millions of Italians, presenting the evening news on the main channel, of which he also became deputy-director.

Mr. SASSOLI, a member of Italy’s center-left Democratic Party, has been a member of the EP since 2009. He was elected vice president five years later and has led the body since 2019.

As Parliament President, SASSOLI was a largely conciliatory voice, working to help advance the agenda of von der Leyen, the Commission’s first woman President, including the European Green Deal, the ambitious package of measures to combat climate change.

During his mandate SASSOLI called for a new  “political pact” with other institutions to give shape and content to the request of a new Europe, improving the Spitzenkandidat process, enhancing the Parliament’s voice and powers and enacting reforms and treaty revision to strengthen European democracy.

“We want the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) to open up a new phase, a phase of participation, but also of change. To change the rules, because we have seen in this year and a half that there cannot be taboos. European democracy must be more efficient and effective. The European Parliament is very ambitious on this.”, said the EP President SASSOLI at the European Youth Event in the framework of the CoFoE.

As a committed European, he always believed that our future lies in a democratic and sovereign Europe, and pushed for a new European democratic transformation.

In 2020, Sandro GOZI, MEP for Renew Europe and President of the Union of European Federalist (UEF), handed over the nearly 1,200 signatures of the ‘1,000 x Federal Europe‘ campaign to David SASSOLI. With President SASSOLI, we shared the need and urgency to provide the Union with new genuine own resources for the European revival. 

That same year, the UEF sent an open letter to MEPs calling on the EP to propose the required amendment to the Treaties and asking the other EU institutions to commence the related process of treaty revision. The EP President thanked UEF for the commitment to the European project, he stressed on the need to have a successful CoFoE and on the key role that the Parliament, Civil Society and European Youth has on it.

“UEF is deeply saddened by the terrible loss of a great European and an outstanding President of the European Parliament. He has been a member of the Movimiento Federalista Europeo in Rome, since Mr. SASSOLI was a convinced federalist, a champion of European democracy, values and integration. We commend his efforts to build a strong house of European democracy, and express our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. Riposa in pace.”, said UEF President and MEP Sandro GOZI.

Contact:
Anna Echterhoff
Secretary General

PRESS RELEASE: UEF celebrates its 75th anniversary

Brussels, 15 December 2021

UEF celebrates its 75th anniversary

UEF-President Sandro GOZI: “We must show the same courage and the same determination of our founders and push for a new European democratic transformation.”

These days, the Union of European Federalists (UEF) celebrates its 75th anniversary! It marks 75 years of bringing together generations of passionate European federalists who, since the end of World War II, have been campaigning for a united and federal Europe.

The organisation was founded in Paris on 15 and 16 December 1946 based on the conviction that peace for future generations could only be secured by the formation of a European federation. The driving idea “unity in diversity” was the basis on which European federalists thought the division of the European continent, that had caused the suffering and destruction of the two World Wars, could be overcome.

The European federalists are still convinced today that only a common effort made by citizens working towards this goal could and can create a peaceful and democratic Europe that guarantees freedom and human rights. At the Congress of Europe in The Hague in 1948, the federalists had an opportunity to reshape the Europe of their time. Back then, federalists fought to put over their vision on the future of Europe, and important federalist elements were also agreed – such as the decision to draw up a binding Charter of Fundamental Human Rights and to establish a supranational Human Rights Court.

The UEF became a leading voice in the European unification process and from the outset advocated for the strengthening of the European Communities, later the European Union. The main goals of the European federalists included the abolition of borders between European States, the introduction of a European currency, direct elections as well as the institutional strengthening of the European Parliament, the introduction of majority decisions in the Council of Ministers, the adoption of European fundamental and human rights and the reinforcement of European foreign and security policy. All these goals have been at least partially achieved in recent years.

On top of the ideas mentioned above, the realisation of a constitution that would lead to a European federal state is the European federalists’ key call. However, this has not been still achieved. The process of constitutionalising the European Union was essentially set in motion by Altiero Spinelli in 1984 with the so-called « Spinelli Treaty ». This led to a revision of the Treaties and served as a basis for the European Community and the Constitutional Treaty later on.

Today, the UEF’s work for a further deepening of the European Union and its transformation into a true European federation continues through the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE). The Conference provides all citizens, and especially the younger generations, with the unique opportunity to make their voice heard and to advocate for the Europe they want by shaping it with their ideas. As European federalists, we must be the leading voice calling for a united and federal Europe.

The CoFoE is particularly special for UEF. For the first time in its 75 years of existence, the UEF has taken a seat at the conference table and can directly feed the political decision- making process with its positions. UEF is part of the delegation of the European Movement International (EMI) in the organised civil society group. It is represented by its Secretary General Anna Echterhoff. With President and MEP Sandro GOZI and Vice-President and MEP Domènec RUIZ DEVESA in the group of MEPs, the UEF is represented with three voices in total.

“Federalism means respect of national and regional identities, promotion of political pluralism, efficiency of the public action, transnational politics and it is a multiplier of rights and opportunities for all. 75 years after, we must show the same courage and the same determination of our founders and push for a new European democratic transformation: we will never give up on this”, underlines President and MEP Sandro GOZI.

Thus, the UEF has the historic opportunity to lead the debate on the reform of the Union towards a democratic, federal entity that is close to citizens and can ensure the protection and promotion of our values. Recent developments show that a stronger pro-European sentiment is emerging in several Member States, which politically strengthens the work of the Conference itself. The UEF will continue to be the driving force for change by communicating its ideas and proposals and fueling the discussions with solutions to strengthen the European Union. For 75 years, UEF has put itself to the service of the European unification and it will continue to do so.

UEF 75th anniversary with UEF President Sandro Gozi

Contact:
Anna Echterhoff
Secretary General

PRESS RELEASE: A big step towards a Federal Europe

Coalition Treaty between Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals in Germany published

Brussels, 26 November, 2021

Dear federalist friend, With the title « Dare to make more Progress – Alliance for freedom, justice and sustainability« , the representatives of the Sozial Demokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD), BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN and Freien Demokraten (FDP) presented their Coalition Treaty on 24 November 2021, after around a month of negotiations. The 178-page Treaty is intended to form the basis for cooperation between the three parties, which want to build the federal government for the next four years.

The seventh of a total of 9 chapters deals with « Germany’s responsibility for Europe and the world. » As in view of inhabitants largest Member State, Germany should assume its special responsibility in a serving understanding for the EU as a whole. This means that German interests should be defined in the light of European interests, according to the three parties. 

One of the most ambitious goals of the so-called « traffic light coalition » is the further development of the European Union in crucial areas: for example, the Conference on the Future of Europe should lead to a constitutional convention and to a further development into a European Federation, organized decentrally also according to the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights. « The Union of European Federalists very much welcomes the clear commitment of the coalition partners to the creation of a European Federation. The call for the creation of a European Federation is our core petition that we, together with our Sections, have been calling for since our foundation 75 years ago, » says Sandro GOZI, President of the UEF and MEP. « It seems that the coalition partners have read our position papers, as the coalition treaty contains further UEF positions, which one can find, summarized most recently in our Appeal « Our federal Europe – sovereign and democratic.« This Appeal has already been supported and signed by more than 500 high-ranking politicians and personalities and is still open for signatures. I invite the representatives of the parties of the coalition treaty but also the representatives of the other pro-European parties in the German Bundestag to sign the Appeal. »

Furthermore, the coalition partners intend to strengthen the role of the European Parliament, especially the right of legislative initiative. The right of legislative initiative has been requested by the UEF at the last Plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE). The coalition treaty contains also the call of a European electoral law with strong Spitzenkandidaten and transnational lists. « A unified European electoral law with transnational lists will lead to the formation of real European parties » underlines Sandro GOZI« The clear positioning in the coalition treaty is encouraging with regard to future negotiations in the Council. In the European Parliament, we are currently discussing the Report on the Electoral Law that UEF Vice-President and MEP Domènec RUIZ DEVESA has drafted as Rapporteur. »

Moreover, there is a positive particular focus on democracy and the rule of law in the coalition treaty. The European Commission is called upon to use and enforce existing rule of law instruments more consistently and in a timely manner. Liberal democracies are to be empowered to better fend off disinformation, fake news, campaigns, propaganda from as well as manipulation from within and outside the country. Unanimity in the Council should to be replaced by majority decisions, at least in foreign and security policy and the European External Action Service should be reformed and strengthened; a true EU foreign minister should replace the High Representative. Priority should be given to the Community method, but where necessary, progress is to be made only with individual Member States.

The calls and commitments towards a strong European Union and to European sovereignty in the coalition treaty of the Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals coincide in many points with the positions of the UEF. The goals are ambitious and promising. Germany can thus bring new momentum and new impetus to the necessary further deepening of the European Union. The coalition treaty has thus also raised hopes and expectations. The task now is to turn words into deeds.

Contact:
Anna Echterhoff
Secretary General

PRESS RELEASE: Quirinal Treaty

Statements by Pier Virgilio DASTOLI and Sandro GOZI

Brussels, 23 November, 2021

Dear federalist friend,

Pier Virgilio DASTOLI, President of the Italian Committee of the European Movement (CIME), writes:

“The Quirinal Treaty between Italy and France will be signed in Rome on 25 November by Emmanuel MACRON and Mario DRAGHI.

The negotiations, launched in early 2018 by the Gentiloni government at a meeting chaired by Italian Minister GOZI and French Minister LOISEAU, and the drafting of the project had been entrusted to a group of six « wise men » including Italians Franco BASSANINI, Marco PIANTINI and Paola SEVERINO.

Among the priority themes of the agreement, emphasis is placed on research, culture, industry and defense, stressing the need to implement means such as structured enhanced cooperation in the event that unanimous decisions impede joint progress. After the Italian elections in 2018 and the formation of the Conte I government with Lega and Movimento 5 Stelle, the negotiations had been frozen, they were not resumed by the Conte II government due to the pandemic, and they were only relaunched by the Draghi government. They will finally be concluded on 25 November.

Many things have happened in the meantime in Europe and between Italy and France, including the start of the Conference on the Future of Europe, with the French and Italian willingness to consider the possibility of going beyond the Lisbon Treaty signed 14 years ago, at a time when the conditions of the world and of Europe were radically different from those of today.

This raises the question of « what to do » if some governments are not willing to negotiate and accept a revision of the Lisbon Treaty, and therefore which project, method and timetable to consider in order to overcome the obstacle of the Convention on the basis of Article 48 of the TFEU (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), which requires the convening of a diplomatic conference, the unanimous agreement of the national governments and the unanimity of national ratifications.

Within the platform on the future of Europe set up in September 2019 at the CNEL (National Counsil for Economic and Labour) by the Italian European Movement, the issue of differentiated integration has been discussed several times, a subject on which the Institute of International Affairs is working within the framework of a European project, while the European Movement has urged the Spinelli Group of the European Parliament to revive the essentially constituent method that the European Parliament had adopted for the elaboration of its draft constitution of 14 February 1984.

These are questions that the Quirinal Treaty should not escape, also in view of the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe that could take place in May 2022 after the French presidential elections on 10 and 24 April 2022.

It should be recalled that the idea of a Quirinal Treaty was launched under the inspiration of the Elysée Treaty signed in the past between France and Germany and that a proposal has recently been put forward for a Franco-Italian-German initiative that would bring together the priorities of the two treaties after the formation of the new German government and in view of the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe and the reopening of work on the reform of the European Union. »

Sandro GOZI, former Italian Secretary of State for European Affairs, now MEP (Renew Europe) and President of the Union of European Federalists (UEF) writes:

“We are on the eve of an important step that will give France and Italy a leading role in Europe and a new leading role in meeting global challenges. The signing of the Quirinal Treaty will ensure a solid and structured basis for making the relationship between our two countries work, creating a series of working groups and more fluid exchanges.

There is today a great political convergence between Rome and Paris on European and international priorities. In the context of such a favourable relationship as the one established between President DRAGHI and President Emmanuel MACRON, it is therefore important to seal this special relationship with a treaty whose signature will give more strength to Italy and France to engage in joint action at the European and global level. There may still be some differences of opinion or disputes, but we will now have a set of new diplomatic tools and political mechanisms to prevent and resolve them. If we European states compete with each other, we all lose. This is why it is essential that Italy and France work together, hand in hand, starting with the development of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which will have to be followed by important reforms of the European Union.” These two statements, reproduced here with the consent of their authors, were originally written on 17 November 2021 for the members of the « Italian Platform for the Conference on the Future of Europe ».

UEF Secretariat

The future of Europe is blooming with the New European Bauhaus and the CoFoE

Brussels, 19 November, 2021

Dear federalist friend,

As you may already know, UEF is implementing its project “#makeEuropeBloom: the Time is Now!” not only as a way to accompany and raise awareness of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), but also to contribute to building the New European Bauhaus.   Officially launched on Europe Day this year, #makeEuropeBloom consists primarily of painting murals at different peripheral European locations. Today, we are happy to share with you the video of the making of and the final results of our first artwork in cooperation with Marest Studio, Generalitat Valenciana and Ajuntament de València in Valencia (Spain), which was painted in parallel to UEF’s XXVII European Congress.

Do not hesitate to like and leave your comments below the video!

PROJECT BACKGROUND

UEF took on from the very beginning the fourfold challenge to make the European institutions commit to launch the Conference on the Future of Europe (which finally happened on 9 May, Europe Day); to ensure the institutional commitment to study with respect and attention the transformative proposals of European citizens and civil society; to advocate for this Conference to represent a real opportunity for the reform of the Treaties and the European institutions; and, finally, to involve and inform as much as possible the European citizens on this first major pan-European democratic exercise.

As a response to a call for proposals by the Directorate-General for Communication (DG COMM) of the European Parliament, “#makeEuropeBloom: the Time is Now!” is an ambitious and audacious artistic project.It is no coincidence that the time slot during which the project is being implemented matches the time span of the CoFoE. The aim of our project is to directly address European citizens in their living environment. Its very nature strives to actively accompany the CoFoE by helping to convince citizens to express themselves in this pan-European democratic process and bring forward the reformations that citizens are demanding towards a more democratic and sovereign Europe”, says Sandro GOZI, UEF President.

In addition, #makeEuropeBloom has also been devised as a response to the invitation “to set up a New European Bauhaus”, that Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, launched in her State of the Union Address of 16 September 2020. “I want NextGenerationEU to kickstart a European renovation wave and make our Union a leader in the circular economy. But this is not just an environmental or economic project: it needs to be a new cultural project for Europe. Every movement has its own look and feel. And we need to give our systemic change its own distinct aesthetic – to match style with sustainability. This is why we will set up a new European Bauhaus – a co-creation space where architects, artists, students, engineers, designers work together to make that happen”.

Arts to illuminate the European project
UEF, combining arts and politics, strives with this project to remind all the peoples of Europe that the European integration project aims to develop their common living space and help them realise that their exchanges go far beyond the cold economic sphere, as a follow-up of the long lasting European common civilisation, by leaning on the citizens’ hearts, minds, senses and artistic sensibilities”, explains François MENNERAT, UEF Executive Board member and legal representative of the project.

A hand out to “lay” citizens
The intention here is to reach out to those persons who appear to be persistently far away from the European perspective and from the debates triggered around the future of Europe. It thus targets, not the big capitals or the privileged quarters of urban centres, but rather deprived or peripheral areas that are still away from the European conversations. It seeks to involve those who live there, starting with the preparation of the events, in full co-operation with the local authorities and the elected representatives”, concludes François MENNERAT

To reach its goal, UEF distributed ahead of our presence in Valencia an online survey, in which organisations of all kinds, from political parties, trade unions, neighbourhood councils to individual citizens contributed with their ideas and responses on the symbols, shapes and colours that could best capture their feelings and emotions about European democracy, which was the central theme of the pictorial work, and the future of Europe.

With this mural, which will have a duration of at least seven years, not only has it been possible to create an innovative language by and for the EU from a contemporary and urban perspective, but it has also led to a reflection widely shared by ordinary citizens and sectors linked to education, tourism, culture, industry and think tanks on the EU and its institutions. This is how we believe we have set an example on how the future of Europe should be built”, states Alejandra ALMARCHA, UEF Secretariat Director.

The inauguration of our mural in Valencia was attended by neighbours of La Plata, an area between the sophisticated City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia and a modest working-class neighbourhood, as well as UEF President & MEP Sandro GOZI, urban artist Antonyo MAREST, UEF Vice-President & MEP Domènec RUIZ DEVESA, Vice-President Luisa TRUMELLINI, Secretary-General Anna ECHTERHOFF and contemporary art curator Fran PICAZO. 

Among the prominent European and local personalities that paid a visit: UEF Federal Committee member & Vice-President of the European Parliament Fabio Massimo CASTALDO, Co-Chair of the Conference on the Future of Europe & MEP Guy VERHOFSTADT, Mayor of Valencia Joan RIBÓ, Minister for Culture of the Government of Valencia Vicent MARZÀ, Director for Culture and Heritage of the Government of Valencia Carmen AMORAGA, former President of the European Parliament & current President of UEF Spain Enrique BARÓN, President of the European Movement in Spain Francisco ALDECOA, Regional Secretary for the European Union and External Relations of the Government of Valencia Joan CALABUIG, Vice-Director of the European Parliament Liaison Office in Madrid Juergen FOECKING and President of JEF Spain Doina STRATU.

Among all the remarkable speeches pronounced on that day, we would like to recall the Conference Co-Chair VERHOFSTADT’s encouraging words: “The EU is more than a single market or a political union, we share a common European culture.This kind of project must become Europe’s trademark. And I am convinced that the most innovative proposals to come out of the Conference will be those on how to boost European humanism, thought, art and lifestyle. […] Let’s spread our way of living and thinking through art in the framework of the CoFoE!”. 

You can also share your ideas and feelings on the Valencia mural in the CoFoE digital platform, within the Democracy section.

Click here to learn more on #makeEuropeBloom. New locations will be unveiled soon!

*Media appearances: 

  1. El futuro de Europa florece ya desde la Nueva Bauhaus y la CoFoE, Alejandra ALMARCHA. Huffington Post.
  2. Los federalistas europeos aterrizan en Valencia con un mural gigante, Lucas MARCO. elDiario.es.
  3. L’artista Antonyo Marest pinta a València un mural dedicat a la democràcia, Montse CATALÀ. À Punt.
  4. Valencia alberga el primer mural del proyecto Make Europe Bloom: the Time is Now!. Qué!
  5. El artista alicantino Antonyo Marest pinta un mural en València financiado por el Parlamento Europeo, Carlos ARCAYA. Cadena SER Alicante.
  6. València acull el primer mural del projecte ‘Make Europe Bloom’, sobre una de les façanes del Museu Faller. Ajuntament de València.
  7. València estrena mural “Make Europe Bloom: the Time is now!. El Turista Digital.

València, Durham, Las Vegas: tras los pasos de Marest antes de ir Panamá, la próxima parada, Daniel TEROL. Alicante Plaza.

UEF Secretariat

Daniel Freund takes over the Presidency of the Spinelli Group

Daniel Freund takes over the Presidency of the Spinelli Group in the European Parliament

Dear everyone interested, Dear journalists,

As of 1 November, Greens/EFA MEP Daniel Freund will take over the presidency of the Spinelli Group from Social-Democrat (S&D) MEP Brando Benifei. The Spinelli Group is a network of 72 federalist-minded Members of the European Parliament aiming to reinvigorate the endeavour for strengthening and democratisation of the European Union.

Daniel Freund, new President of the Spinelli Group, comments:

“I would like to thank Brando Benifei for his great work as the president, pushing for a more federal Europe. As Spinelli Group we want to use the Conference on the Future of Europe to inoculate our continental democracy with strong reforms against overstretching in next crises. We want strong reforms for truly European elections, EU investments in a digital and climate friendly future, a Europe that speaks with one voice in the world. We invite all to join our campaign to make Europe stronger by making it more democratic!

The EU is being held back by antiquated decision making processes. We need to get rid of unanimity in the EU Council and we have to push for own initiative rights for the European Parliament. With a European second vote for transnational lists we could make sure citizens have a stronger say which lead candidate is the next Commission president in 2024. We have to make clear that more democracy is the answer to the current crises rocking the European Union.“


Follow our group:
https://twitter.com/spinelligroup 


Read our manifesto of 2018:
https://thespinelligroup.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Manifesto_EN.pdf 


Read our manifesto for the Conference on the Future of Europe:
https://thespinelligroup.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/SPINELLI-MANIFESTO_V_light.pdf 

• Strengthening democracy with a second vote in EU elections for transnational lists, a right of initiative for the EP

• Reforming the Economic and Monetary Union and investing in European common goods

• Protecting EU fundamental rights

• Increasing the European Union’s ability to act by ending national vetos

• Fostering European citizenship and a truly European public sphere

• Ensuring a proper follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe


Sign our appeal for a federal Europe:
https://www.federalists.eu/news-uef/view/uef-the-spinellii-group-appeal-our-federal-europe 


Background: history of the Spinelli group

Named after Altiero Spinelli (1907–1986), founder of the Union of European Federalists (UEF) and a founding father of the European integration, the Spinelli Group was founded on 15 September 2010 in the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels by former Belgium prime minister and current MEP Guy VERHOFSTADT, former co-chair of the Greens–European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) Group in the European Parliament  Daniel COHN-BENDIT, former MEP Sylvie GOULARD (ALDE) and former European Parliament Vice-President Isabelle DURANT (Greens/EFA).
UEF Secretariat

THE TIME IS NOW – COFOE

ISSUE 10/2021

« We should support those citizens who want to move forward and that are openly discussing in the CoFoE with no taboos. We should reform the treaties to ensure a new sovereign, democratic and federal Europe. » – MEP Brando Benifei, outgoing President of the Spinelli Group.

THE TIME IS NOW, UEF’s fortnightly newsletter on the Conference on the Future of Europe!
Issue 10/2021

Learn more about the Conference’s latest news and activities related to rebuilding the EU!

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1. CoFoE 2nd Plenary 

This past weekend, the Conference Plenary discussed reports from the European Citizens’ Panels, national panels and events, the EYE and the Platform.

This Conference Plenary meeting represented two major milestones in the context of the Conference. On the one hand, the 80 representatives of the European Citizens’ Panels that have been selected from the pool of 800 that convened in Strasbourg in September and October took their seats. On the other hand, for the first time, the Plenary discussed citizens’ contributions stemming from the different components of the Conference as they currently stand, while deliberations, events, and online debate continue.

The Plenary comprises representatives from the European Parliament (108), the Council (54, or two per member state) and the European Commission (3), as well as from all national Parliaments (108) on an equal footing, and citizens (108). As part of the citizens’ component, representatives from the European Citizens’ Panels (80), representatives of national events or national citizens’ panels (27, or one per member state) and the President of the European Youth Forum take part in the deliberations. In addition, representatives from the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee (18 from each), elected representatives from regional and local authorities (6 from each), and representatives of the social partners (12) and civil society (8) participate as members. For the first time, representatives from the Western Balkans participated as key partners.

On Friday, the Plenary working groups, composed of representatives from all components of the Conference Plenary (incl. MEPs, national parliamentarians, government representatives, the Commission, social partners, civil society, and citizens) met for a constitutive meeting. On Saturday, the Plenary meeting was opened by the Co-Chairs of the Conference’s Executive Board, Guy Verhofstadt (European Parliament), State Secretary Gašper Dovžan on behalf of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU and European Commission Vice-President Dubravka Šuica. The discussions revolved around:

  • a presentation with first impressions from the European Citizens’ Panels by representatives from each Panel and by the Co-Chairs;
  • a report by the representatives from national panels and events;
  • a report from the European Youth Event; and
  • a presentation by the Co-Chairs of the interim reports and state of play on the Multilingual Digital Platform.

The Co-Chairs of the Conference made the following statements from Strasbourg:

Guy Verhofstadt (European Parliament), said: “The enthusiasm in the Citizens’ Panels is great, expectations are high, the formula is working. Now the Plenary has to find answers to the issues raised, in the form of a shared vision of Europe’s future and concrete deliverables on how we reform the European Union. EU politics have to rise to the occasion.”

Gašper Dovžan (Presidency of the Council) commented that: “Tens of thousands of citizens continue to discuss the future of Europe in the European and national panels and events, as well as on the Platform. The Plenary will debate and bring forward their recommendations in the areas that matter most to them, without a predetermined outcome. This is the first Plenary under the Slovenian Presidency of the Council and we were very pleased to welcome representatives from our Western Balkans partners as key stakeholders with whom we share responsibility for the future of the EU.”

Dubravka Šuica (Vice-President of the European Commission) stated: « This is a historic moment where, for the first time, citizens deliberate on a par with their elected representatives at all levels. Bringing citizens to the core of European policymaking will reinforce our representative democracies, as we set sail towards our common future.”

A little less positive was the balance drawn by the citizens who participated in the plenary, who complained about the lack of concreteness of the working groups – with the exception of the one on health, chaired by European Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič and judged very positive – and to have known only the previous day what the order of business would be.

The plenary itself was the subject of criticism, due to the shorter time allowed for speeches by citizens compared to those of politicians – many of whom, moreover, did not participate in the afternoon session – and the generic nature of many of the speeches heard in the classroom. The complaints were expressed directly in the hemicycle through the words of a Dutch delegate, who asked for more space to speak and received the applause of all present.

A position that Verhofstadt seems to have taken into account. In the press conference at the end of the assembly, the representative of the EU Parliament said that « the central role of citizens will become even more evident in the next plenaries, when they present their recommendations and proposals and others will be able to react on the proposals ». Verhofstadt added that « the most important novelty of the Conference is the active part of citizens in decision-making processes », and that the mechanism used could « become permanent », as a demonstration « of the fact that participatory and representative democracy can work together ».

2. UEF IN THE PLENARY 

UEF was represented in the Plenary of the CoFoE with our President and MEP Sandro GOZI, Vice-President and MEP Doménec RUIZ DEVESA and Secretary General Anna ECHTERHOFF.

« Citizens are asking for a more federal and social Europe. They are calling to remove the veto in the EU Council, to strengthen EP powers, a Pan-European constituency, etc. Let’s do not disappoint europeans.” said UEF Vice-President and MEP Doménec RUIZ DEVESA in the Plenary.

« We must strengthen European democracy by granting more powers to the EP. We need: a uniform electoral law, the creation of transnational lists leading to the formation of real European parties and legislative initiative for the EP. » highlighted UEF Secretary General Anna ECHTERHOFF

« We should support those citizens who want to move forward and that are openly discussing in the CoFoE with no taboos. We should reform the treaties to ensure a new sovereign, democratic and federal Europe. » added MEP Brando Benifei, outgoing President of the Spinelli Group.

« We all share responsibility for making the #CoFoE its Platform known. We need to develop a common consciousness to have the Conference awaken, focusing on a few concrete proposals to ensure greater effectiveness for Europe & its values. » said European Union Deutschland Secretary General Christian MOSS.
 

3. SPINELLI GROUP CAUCUS

The Spinelli Group (SG) caucus meeting took Place last Friday in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The caucus should serve to coordinate and defend the federalist and pan-European interests in a transversal way in all the WGs, and make them ambitious, with concrete proposals and conclusions. To this end, the SG distributed a Manifesto defending the main federalist ideas. As a cross-cutting group with different ideas, the SG will join forces to focus on the points in common and to ensure that the inclusiveness of the group is strengthened, without neglecting coordination between the political groups. This is the strength of the GS, the only cross-party, transnational and pan-European group. During the caucus meeting, the change of the Spinelli Group rotatory Presidency took place. We’re happy to announce that Daniel Freund will be the new President of the Spinelli Group on behalf of Greens/EFA. UEF thanks Brando Benifei for his amazing work this year as our first President for this mandate!

4. UEF LIVESTREAM INTERVIEW

Right after the 2nd CoFoE Plenary, a Live Stream analysis from a federalist perspective was scheduled with the President of UEF, MEP Sandro GOZI. The interview was conducted by Nana WALZER. The President shared his impression of the Plenary commented on the topics and working priorities the Federalists addressed in over the weekend session.

5. ANGELA MERKEL AND THE CoFoE

The Conference on the Future of Europe, which now-outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested could be the place to solve Poland’s rule of law issues, has been paid little attention. But that does not mean those attending have not been busy.

“The Conference on the Future of Europe is actually a good place to discuss,” said Merkel as she entered the European Council on Thursday (21 October).

She also suggested that the CoFoE is a good place to talk about “how the individual members envisage the European Union”. Despite this, even though the conference had its second plenary on 23 October, it failed to make many waves.

6. NEXT STEPS

The next two meetings of the Plenary will be held on 17-18 December and 21-22 January to discuss the recommendations of the four European citizens’ panels that will wrap up their work by then. Co-chair Verhofstadt underlined that these sessions will have a different setup, with more time for the representatives of the panels to present their conclusions and a debate with other Plenary members on the concrete topics.

In the meantime, citizens’ contributions to the Conference will continue to flow in:

  • the European Citizens’ Panels will meet online in November, and the first two will finalise their recommendations and present them in Plenary in December;
  • the Multilingual Digital Platform remains available for citizens’ ideas and events, which will become part of the third report due for December, and which will feed into the last sessions of European Citizens’ Panels and the upcoming meetings of the Conference Plenary;

*Feel free to contact UEF Secretariat if you may have any questions on the CoFoE or the Digital Platform: secretariat@federalists.eu

PRESS RELEASE – UEF Supports the 2021 Jean Monnet Prize for Europan Integration

UEF is delighted to support also this year the Jean Monnet Prize for European Integration. This initiative aims at honouring Jean Monnet’s memory and life achievements. It does so by rewarding talented individuals or groups having contributed to supporting or strengthening European Integration through a project they designed and implemented. The winning project receives a €1,500 grant.

EuropeanConstitution.eu set up the Jean Monnet Prize for European Integration to honour Jean Monnet’s life and dedication to European integration by rewarding projects that support this ideal in a concrete and apolitical manner for European citizens. The Award is under the patronage of the European Parliament and is supported by the following partners in addition to the UEF: College of Europe, Democracy International, Alliance4Europe, Schwarzkopf Foundation, Friends of Europe, European Student’s Union, Spinelli Group, EU40, BBE, European University Association, European Democracy Lab, The Good Lobby, European Alternatives. Where other prizes may reward public figures of high standing, the Jean Monnet Prize focuses on citizens’ personal engagement for Europe and activities that impact the day-to-day life of Europeans. 

The Jean Monnet Prize is an open competition. It can reward any project contributing to the strengthening of European integration and of the European spirit. The Jean Monnet Prize does not reward projects that have yet to be implemented or that seek funding in order to start their implementation, this is to meant to improve the assessment of the project’s concrete impact for citizens. 

There are no criteria imposed on the applicants and UEF encourages all to apply, in particular young people, women and disenfranchised groups. The application process is entirely free, and no expenses are asked of participants at any point. 

2021 edition of the Prize 

The call for applications will be open from 9 September to 9 October, and the results unveiled on 9 November — the anniversary of Jean Monnet’s birth. 

All applications must be made online at: 
https://europeanconstitution.eu/JMP2021-application 

No paper or email applications will be considered. Given the promising mobilisation for the Conference on the Future of Europe, we are convinced that 2021 will be a tremendous year for citizens’ engagement.  For any further information you can contact EuropeanConstitution.eu at: jeanmonnetprize@europeanconstitution.eu

Contact:
Anna Echterhoff,
UEF Secretary General