FC Oostende - October 2004
The Federal Committee of the Young European Federalists (JEF) met in Oostende (Belgium) on October 29-31, 2004 and adopted the following resolutions:
The Resolutions in Word document format can be downloaded below:
EP 02: European Army as a tool to promote peace in the world.
JEF – Europe wants to support the idea of a European Army as a tool to promote peace in the world and an instrument of the future SFSP of the EU.
1.1. We perceive the creation of a sustainable peace in Europe and the world to be one of the fundamental interests of the European Union.
1.2. In times of rapid expansion of local conflicts, intra-statal wars, and terrorism, European Union needs to act as a promoter of peace around the world, by preventing conflicts from escalating and committing troops to peacekeeping and stabilization missions.
1.3. The European Union needs to improve its military capabilities by creating a European Army that will provide defence and security to its citizens. It should also develop its own distinctive approach to warfare that builds extensively on core European strengths related to peacekeeping, post-conflict stabilization, nation-building and counter-insurgency warfare.
1.4. In order to achieve all that, the European Union needs to modernize its defence structures to provide forces relevant for today’s security challenges. The needed enhancements in military capabilities can be developed to a large extent by using existing funds more efficiently and by better allocating current resources instead of directing the bulk of them toward maintaining old fashioned national armies.
1.5. The European Army should be under the control of a European Minister of Defence as part of a European Federal Government. The CFSP should beforehand be reformed accordingly.
1.6. The EU should be able to run high-intensity operations independently of NATO.
1.7. For European armed forces to act effectively in common they need ability to think in common. This calls for the creation of a European Defence Academy, to provide a common educational basis for the officers from the various European Union countries.
- Reaffirms its belief that the European Union has an enormous potential in the field of peacekeeping and alternative use of military force.
- Recognizes the symbolic importance of the peacekeeping mission in Macedonia, the first military mission of the European Union, and encourages European Union to take up similar responsibilities in the future.
- Calls upon the EU to form a true European Army to back up its foreign policy goals. Europe will lack credibility on a global stage if it doesn’t have the military strength to back up its policies when swift reaction is necessary.
- Welcomes the possibility to establish Structured Co-operation in the field of Defence, which is a significant step towards a Single European Army.
- Welcomes the creation of European Defence Agency to coordinate more effectively the work of various institutions involved in European Union armament cooperation, which hopefully will result in harmonisation of European Unions defence spending and equipment procurement procedures.
- Urges the European Union to cooperate closely with the United Nations in its efforts to safeguard peace, uphold the supremacy of international law, and ease human suffering around the world.
- Encourages the European Union member states to set up a permanent pool of military units available on the request of the Secretary General of United Nations for peacekeeping and stabilization operations around the world.
EP 03 - analysis of the European Constitution
The European Convention was born in the context of recurrent failures of the IGC method to reform the EU institutions. On this occasion, JEF had formulated big hopes, the first of them being that the Convention would come up with a federal constitution for Europe. During the convention JEF tried to push ahead many proposals for a more federal Europe.
JEF-Europe acknowledges the European Constitution, adopted 25th of June 2004 as a major milestone in the history of the European integration. Despite the fact that this constitution does not give the EU the federal structure we would wish for, it is vital to ensure the Constitution is ratified, as the improvements that would be made to the functioning of the EU would constitute a major stepping-stone on the road to a Federal Europe. Rejecting this text would block the constitutional process
JEF-Europe appreciates that:
- the charter of fundamental rights is included in the constitution, giving it the force of law
- legal instruments of the EU have been simplified
- the EU is given legal personality
- the Eurogroup is given a decision capacity of its own and a stable presidency
- the office of Ministry of EU Foreign Affairs is created
- the popular initiative right of one million European citizens is included in the constitution
- EU competences are clarified and the transfer of competence is made more flexible
- majority voting is expanded
- the European Parliament intervenes by co-decision in more policy areas
- the President of the EU Commission is to be elected by the European Parliament
- a structured cooperation in defence is made possible
- the convention is institutionalised as a revision-drawing organ
Some other points can be mentioned as good: the solidarity clause in case of terrorist attack, the maintain of the principle of secularity and the possibility for a member-state to withdraw voluntarily.
Also, even though it does not exactly correspond to the text proposed by the Convention, the Constitution directly comes from the Convention’s work. The IGC negotiated over a text it had not prepared. Besides, the constitution does not present any step backwards compared to the previous treaties.
Yet the members of the Convention, the heads of states and governments have not been ambitious enough. With this Constitution, the EU will still not work as a federation. It will still fit a much too intergovernmental scheme. In that sense, the principal weaknesses of the constitution are:
- unanimity voting has been maintained in many areas of decision-making, especially in foreign and security policy, in economic fiscal and social policy, and also in budgetary policy. Hence national interests of heads of states still prevail over EU interests in those fields
- there are more possibilities of minority-blockage making in the decision process
- the revision of the constitution is under unanimity voting rule. This drastically reduces the perspectives for improving the content of the actual text and deepening the federal integration of the EU.
- the adoption of the constitution is under a quasi unanimity voting rule.
That is why JEF decides to support the constitution. In order to do so, JEF commit to:
- Participation for the YES-campaign described in the annex to this resolution, to achieve a swift ratification of the Constitution
- Co-operation with other youth NGOs in favour of ratification to create the strongest possible network of young people in favour of ratification
- JEF-sections all around Europe to run and participate in the campaigns for the ratification of the Constitution, and to make the maximum use of the resources that will be made available though the YES Campaign (see annex)
- All federalists, regardless of their political or national background, to cooperate in their efforts to ensure ratification of the European Constitution
- organize a pan-European street action based on a mock referendum on the constitution on 9th May 2005 all over Europe
Besides JEF urges again all member states, that are holding a referendum on the Constitution, to schedule it on the same day in order to give a real European meaning to the procedure and avoid national manipulations.
JEF-Europe acknowledges that under certain circumstances, the ratification procedure in a few member states can fail. In this case, JEF-Europe is in favour of a two-step procedure which ensures that in this case, neither the broad majority of member states will be blocked from having a European Constitution, nor those countries not ratifying the constitution will be left hanging between a new “Constitutional Europe”, and an old “Treaty Europe”. The first step will be the ratification of the European Constitution as such. If a very significant majority of states approve the constitution, it will be up to enter into force in those states. Citizens of those countries failing to ratify the Constitution will have a second decision to take. Either they decide in a second referendum to accept being member of this new “Constitutional Europe”, or they decide to leave the European Union. In the latter case there should be simplified procedures for these countries to form a close cooperation with the EU, e.g. in the framework of the EFTA.”
JEF points out that a federal Europe is still to be built. In order for Europe to progress that way, JEF urges EU institutions and heads of member states that:
- efforts be made to prop up European-wide public debate
- reinforced cooperations be used to develop policies and common actions where citizens have a will for it (especially in foreign and security policy and economic and social policy)
- a new Convention is convened shortly after the entering into force of the Constitution in order to improve it.
- the revision procedure be urgently changed for a qualified majority voting rule
Europe is close to have a Constitution but not a federal one. Hence JEF members have to carry out federal activism more than ever to influence the present constitutional process.
EP 04 - the EU Accession of Turkey
Taking into account the resolution EP01 of the Prague Federal Committee of JEF-Europe in March 2003, the Federal Committee of JEF-Europe, meeting in Oostende in October 2004:
Welcomes the proposal by the European Commission to open EU accession negotiations with Turkey, enabling both sides to lay their cards on the table and negotiate on the concrete issues of accession
Rejects any notion that Turkey could not become a member state of the European Union due to cultural or religious differences with other member states
States its position that the accession of Turkey must be on the basis of objective criteria concerning respect for democracy, the rule of law and respect for human and minority rights that must be the same for any state wishing to join the European Union. Further, the geopolitical importance of Turkey must be at no point be used as an excuse for double-standards concerning these criteria
Additionally underlines its requirement that states must wish to accede to a political community and that citizens should consider themselves to be European and share the political goals, aims and aspirations of the Union. Once the relevant criteria are fulfilled, the final decision as to whether to accede must be in the hands of the Turkish people and their government and on the side of the EU normal procedures apply.
Expresses its positive support for the improvements made by Turkey concerning reforms of its legal system and respect for human rights which have been partly motivated by the quest for EU membership
Considers that the opening of formal negotiations is a vital step on the road towards EU accession but this does not necessarily mean that Turkey will ever meet the required criteria to become a member state of the European Union. Complete compliance with accession criteria cannot be expected at the start of negotiations
Recognizes that much more progress is needed before Turkey comes close to the required EU standard of respect for human rights and minority rights
Appreciates that the scale of economic and agricultural reform required to enable Turkey to join the European Union is of a magnitude never before seen in previous accession negotiations
Is profoundly concerned that, in their present form, the EU institutions and EU budgetary provisions would be totally inadequate to be able to incorporate Turkey into the European Union
Acknowledges that the scale of the task for Turkey means that negotiations are certain to take considerably longer than for any previous accession
Firmly rejects the idea of imposing permanent restrictions on the free movement of Turkish citizens if and when Turkey joins the EU
JEF-Europe therefore calls for:
An objective and rational approach to accession negotiations, avoiding any double standards concerning accession criteria and ratification
A re-intensification of efforts to democratise the European Union, continuing in parallel to accession negotiations, to ensure that federal institutions and budgetary procedures are in place by the time Turkey would be ready to join the European Union.
EP 06 - Balkan Youth Centre
Federal Committee of JEF-Europe, meeting in Oostende in October 2004:
- Bearing in mind the previous JEF-Europe resolutions concerning the South Eastern Europe, particularly the SEE-Initiative adopted at the last congress in Stockholm,
- Reaffirming the commitment to engage in the establishement of strong pro-European youth NGOs in the region,
- Taking into account the valuable work done by many International Youth NGOs (INYGOs) and the European Youth Forum through the Balkan Youth Project in the past years,
- Recognizing the importance of a continuous and strong presence of IYNGOs in the region and the continous committments on the side of financial donors,
Calls upon the JEF-Europe Executive Bureau to:
- work on creating a coalition of interested partners for a more permanent presence in the youth NGO sector in the Balkans, starting with the member organizations of the European Youth Forum participating in the existing Balkan Youth Project,
- explore the opportunities to get permanent funding for a sustainable involvement in the region,
- elaborate a communication strategy for possible donors present in individual countries of the region,
- consider the establishement of a coordination point for future JEF sections' projects in the region, under the name of »Balkan Youth Centre«.
The Balkan Youth Centre should:
- be the contact point for projects carried out by the relevant partners and JEF sections/groups from the region,
- encourage the relevant partners and JEF sections/groups from the region to strenghten their presence in the civil society sector in the region,
- reinforce the cooperation among the JEF sections from the current EU member states and the existing JEF sections/groups from the region,
- help the relevant partners and JEF sections/groups from the region in identifying sustainable sources of project funding,
- offer support services during the planning and implementation of the projects carried out by the relevant partners and JEF sections/groups from the region,
- create effective ways of direct information exchange between the JEF sections/groups from the region,
- improve the coordination of activities carried out by the JEF sections/groups from the region,
- provide training activities on Youth NGO work for members of the relevant partners and JEF sections/groups from the region,
- provide training activities on political education aimed at overcoming the existent active participation deficit among youth in the region,
- offer the possibility of study visits and exchanges of volunteers between JEF sections or groups.
EP 07 - on European political parties
According to the article I –46, PART VI, of the E.U. Constitutional Treaty: “Political parties at European level contribute to forming European political awareness and expressing the will of the citizens.
Taking into account that:
- The current condition in the political structure of the European parties cannot realistically promote European awareness
- European political parties are actually coalitions of national parties without clearly defined political agendas common to all the national member parties
- The citizens of the member-states vote for a “national” representative rather than a “European” spokesperson following the national political agenda
- The current organizational structure of the European Parties cannot effectively support Europe-wide demands.
Being aware that:
- In representative democracies political parties are the key intermediaries between citizens and the state
- Parties form the political preferences of the citizens, transform them into electoral mandates of party governments and ultimately into public policy
- European political parties could significantly contribute to the democratic accountability of the political process of the European Union and enhance the legitimization of the European governance
- The turnout to the European elections remains extremely low
JEF Europe firmly believes that:
- European Parties should run for the European elections
- The European parties should have a key role in increasing the turnout in the European elections
- National parties should be ready to follow the agenda of their European equivalent on European issues
- Candidates MEPs for the European parliamentary elections should be elected under the same political umbrella that the European Parties provide
- European Parties should share specific visions and proposals on European issues that they should communicate to the citizens of the Union
- European Parties should have clear procedures and statutes that will be respected by their members – accordingly the MEPs should comply with the rules and decisions of their political parties
- European Parties should propose a candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission before the European elections
- In accordance with the proposal by the EP European parties should be represented directly at the EU level. 10% of the seat of the EP should be allocated proportionally after a direct vote given to the European parties. The remaining 90% should be allocated as presently in multiseat national constituencies. By introducing a direct representation for EU parties, the EU parties can present their Commission candidates on a European platform. This would further the European campaign and increase the legitimacy of the Commission.
Therefore JEF Europe:
- Calls upon the national political parties to open the debate about the role of the European ones and commit themselves to strong, alliances, based on the ideology and the vision about Europe
- Requests the Commission and the European Parliament to engage citizens –especially those active in political parties- to this dialogue
- States once more its belief that strong European Political Parties will lead EU a step forward and will bring citizens closer to the decision-making level, providing them the necessary political platform for their “European demands”
EP 08 - on a single seat for the European Union in UN Security-Council
Currently, the United Nations debate a reform of the Security Council. Taking into account the insufficiencies and inefficiencies of the current system, JEF strongly believes that a reform is necessary. The United Nations have to play a greater role in dealing with international security issues and in implementing the rule of international law. In this respect, the Security Council as the central organ has to be more representative.
Given the fact, that the European Union can be considered as regional sub-organisation of the United Nations, which has dedicated itself to the promotion of the ideals of the UN-Charter, the absence of any direct representation of the European Union is unacceptable. As the world’s second biggest economy, as the contributor of the most aids for developing countries, the EU deserves a greater weight in the United Nations.
JEF stresses the importance of a Single European Foreign Policy, as expression of European Federal Government, in order to ensure the promotion of the ideals of the European project, which are also underlying the idea of United Nations to a great extent. The numeric weight of having two permanent members of the Security Council is not used in an efficient manner and shows once more the necessity for a single and coherent foreign policy overcoming the divisions. It is the wish of a large majority of European citizens to be represented on the world level as Europeans. The divisions of the past, which not only undermined the weight and the credibility of the EU but also complicated the management of several crises, underlined once more the necessity of a Single European Policy.
Although the draft constitutional treaty does not introduce a truly Single Foreign Policy, it paves the way for a single representation of the EU in international organisations. Art. III-206 §2 states that
“When the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the United Nations Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on the Security Council shall request that the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs be asked to present the Union's position.”
JEF calls on the full implementation of article III-216 in advance. It should be the guideline for any further proposals of reform.
JEF calls on the governments of the member states, their Parliaments, the European Commission, the European Parliament, European parties, to demand a single permanent seat for the European Union in UN Security Council. This seat should be given to the Foreign Minister of the Union.
JEF demands all member states of the EU, who are advocating a national permanent seat in UN Security Council to take into account the aim of a single European seat. Their actions should not damage this European strategy.
JEF reminds all members of United Nations to take into consideration that a permanent seat for EU would also mean an encouraging signal for other world regions and their efforts to establish regional communities.
JEF calls for the launch of a Europe-wide campaign, that would demand the realization of a Single European Foreign Policy, and therefore the appointment of a European Foreign Affairs Minister, endowed with full powers, as single representative of the EU in the UN Security Council.
JEF asks UEF and WFM to cooperate together on this platform of requests.
EP 09 - on Overcoming Northern Divisions
- Determined to deepen and widen the cooperation between the EU, the Baltic Sea countries of the EU and Iceland, Norway and Russia
- Convinced that the Northern Dimension can only reach its full potential if all the Northern States are members of the EU
- Underlining the importance of the EU-Russia relations, especially due to the geographical, economical and cultural proximity between the two
- Recognising the importance of the cooperation between neighbouring EU countries
- Recognising the great amount of regional parliamentary structures, intergovernmental organisations and NGO bodies in the Baltic Sea Area
- Keeping in mind that the Baltic Sea is the most polluted sea in the world and appreciating the efforts of the EU to protect and enhance the Baltic maritime environment
- Convinced of the importance of the Second Northern Dimension Action Plan of the EU for the years 2004 – 2006 in order to structure and create continuity the cooperation of the Baltic Sea Region within the EU
- Expressing disappointment that the Northern Dimension does not have its own budget line in the EU causing the cooperation process to function via existing structural funds of the EU (Tacis, Interreg, Phare).
Therefore JEF Europe:
- Urges the European Union Member States to fully recognise the value of the Northern Dimension for the EU politically, socially, environmentally as well as economically
- Emphasises the importance of deepening the relations of the EU and North-West of Russia
- Advises the EU, the Member States of the EU and Russia to further improve the environmental programs in the Baltic Sea region especially regarding the maritime environment and nuclear safety
- Strongly recommends the Member States of the different Parliamentary Councils in the Northern Europe to restructure and merge the cooperative bodies in order to ameliorate and increase the efficiency of the cooperation between the countries in the region