FC Formia - September 2000
The Federal Commitee of the Young European Federalists (JEF) met in Formia (Italy) on September 8-10, 2000 and adopted the following resolutions:
The resolutions in word document format can be downloaded below:
Unite East and West in a Federal European Union
FC Formia - September 2000
I - Political background
1. A new vision is needed. Europe stands at a historic crossroad. The Euro, enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe and Europe’s role in the new global order pose massive challenges that cannot be dealt with successfully without major reforms of the European Union’s institutions. We have to redefine the spirit, the character, the goals and the institutions of the European Union, by aiming to establishing a real a European Federation including all European countries. 2. The enlargement of the Union to Central and Eastern Europe is a crucial political priority. The enlargement of the Union is not only the completion of the democratic revolution of 1989, but is in fact the completion of the whole European project started 50 years ago with the Schuman declaration. It is a shame that, at the eleventh anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the citizens of Central and Eastern Europe are still left waiting for accession because the old members states have not been able to reform the Union's institutions and policies.
3. East and West in a European federation. The citizens of Central and Eastern Europe, the majority of whom still see the European Union as a model of peace, democracy and welfare, do not want to join only a single market. The enlargement of the European Union is not supposed to be the extension of a free-trade area but the process of building together, East and West, a common democratic community of values and a strong political community, that only a federation can ensure.
4. Building together an enlarged European federation. As long as the European Union remains dominated by intergovermental cooperation, it remains weak and unable to cope with the challenges of today, distanced from its citizens and not fully democratic. While intergovernmentalism persists, enlargement risks diluting the European Union into a mere free trade area, impossible to govern, and deprived of political cohesion and vision. The challenges ahead can only be successfully faced if Europe goes beyond simple intergovernmental cooperation and re-founds itself as a real European Federation.
5. A European federal Constitution. The two parallel processes of enlarging the Union and reforming the Union’s institutions and policies offer the chance to rethink the future of the European Union and equip it with new means and a new vision. We have the chance to launch an initiative to draft and establish a real European Constitution for a federal Union open to all countries that are willing to join it, West and East. We advocate a Constitution that creates a full democratic and accountable Union, with a real Parliament and a real Government. This will become the symbol and defender of the values and rights of all Europeans.
6. The role of the European Parliament. The European Parliament can become the avant-garde within the Institutions of the European Union by demanding an enlargement of the European Union beyond the current negotiation processes and by supporting those who in the last months have been advocating a European federation and a European Constitution.
II - Demands to the European Parliament
The Young European Federalists demand that the European Parliament, as the only directly elected representative of European citizens, contribute its utmost to meet the historical challenge of the finalisation of the European project by its enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe and the establishment of a real federal Union.
The Young European Federalists urge the European Parliament to act immediately to promote possible initiatives that challenge the slowness and selfishness that is characterising the negotiations for the enlargement of the Union as well as the minimalist approach that is characterising the ongoing Intergovernmental Conference on the reform of the Union.
Particularly the Young European Federalists call upon the European Parliament:
1. to redefine and strengthen its position on the enlargement of the Union by advocating a rapid enlargement of the European Union to all countries that are currently negotiating their membership in the Union,
2. to support those political leaders that in the last months have been advocating a European Federation and a European Constitution, as the way to ensure that the European Union is fully prepared for enlargement before the next European elections.
The Young European Federalists urge the European Parliament to take the lead in this process in the current and future applicant countries, and to put pressure on the other EU institutions and the governments of the Member States so that:
1. the very clear timetable for the enlargement process set in Helsinki is maintained and that no delay results from domestic power struggles in current member-states.
2. all possible political, financial and organisational support is given to the applicant countries so that they manage to fulfil the accession criteria set in Helsinki in December 1999,
3. negotiations for the accession are open as soon as possible for those European countries which do not even have applicant status yet but are willing to enter into the Union,
4. the European Council meeting in Nice, or those Member States who are willing to, mandate a Convention (composed of members of the European Parliament, the European Commission, and national Parliaments and governments of both the present and the future EU member states) to prepare a federal European Constitution. This Constitution will be presented before the next European elections to all European countries that are willing to accept it.
5. the reformed institutions allow the European Commission to develop into a real European Government. The European Parliament should be given full legislative powers and be transformed into a two chamber legislature, one chamber representing European citizens and the second representing the Member States, the latter being developed from the current Council of Ministers.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights: Still a Long Way to Go on the Front of the Rights of the European Citizens
FC Formia - September 2000
At the beginning of this year, the Young European Federalists (JEF) welcomed enthusiastically the initiative of the establishment of a Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European citizens. JEF stressed that this initiative, aside being a crucial and novel achievement, was the first step on the way to a real European Constitution. Moreover, the establishment of the Charter could have marked for JEF the start of a new Europe focussed on the citizens and moving forward to a real Political Union. The Convention, as a result of seven months of intensive work, made public the Draft of "Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union" on 28 July. JEF welcomes this Draft of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and stresses the following points:
1. The Draft provides the existing jurisdiction on the fundamental rights both of the European Union’s institutions and that of its Member States with a clearer orientation. It also tackles the issues of modern fundamental rights. JEF considers work done on this document highly important, especially keeping in mind intensive work over a period of seven months and modest support from the Council of the European Union. This Draft is a further evidence of the strength and effectiveness of the "new democratic method" that the Convention implemented in its distinctly open and transparent proceedings. This feature is manifest in the fact that the Convention involved the representatives of the citizens in the European Parliament and in the national parliaments, on the foot of parity with the representatives of the Member States, as well as civil society organisations.
2. However, the Draft is still very far from being sufficient to mark the start of a new Union focussed on the European citizens and not only on the economic dimension of the Union. This document does not yet provide the Union with a vision for the new challenges facing European democracy, economy, society and culture in the new millennium. It is not sufficient to win back the lost trust and passion of the European citizens for the European Union.
3. Moreover, it is highly regrettable that despite the extensive part dedicated to political and civil rights and citizens’ rights, the Draft Charter ignores that the "European citizenship" is unfortunately condemned to remain an empty word as long as the citizens are deprived of the fundamental right of citizenship: the power to decide the Government and the policies of the Union. The historic fundamental principle that states that "sovereignty lies in the people" is today not implemented in the European Union. Therefore, the Union - even with the Charter - is not yet a democracy.
JEF comments also on the following important specific provisions of the Draft Charter:
1. JEF states that if the Charter were integrated in the Treaties, it should not be granted a separate preamble, which would mainly echo existing Treaty provisions or provisions of the Charter text itself. Instead, JEF proposes to delete the preamble completely or avoid at least superfluous provisions.
2. JEF insists on the provisions on European political parties to be strengthened, as these political parties can play an important role in the democratisation of the European Union and the creation of real political life on the European level.
3. JEF welcomes the important new right of good administration.
4. JEF stresses the importance of the idea of subsidiarity, but the meaning of this principle in the context of the Draft Charter is unambiguous.
5. JEF wants to see the role of the European Parliament in deciding on limitations of the Charter rights laid down more clearly than it is done in the Draft Charter.
6. JEF would like to see the right to an alternative from a military service to be included expressively in the Charter.
JEF also believes that the two principal problems concerning the Charter are still the question of its legally binding character for the European Union’s institutions and the Member States, and its role in paving a way to establishing a real European Constitution:
1. A Charter of Fundamental Rights which does not give the European citizens the right to claim for the respect of their fundamental rights in courts will widen the gap between the citizens and the European Union and would be a betrayal of expectations raised with the establishment of the Charter. Likewise, a Charter that applies only to the institutions of the Union but not to the Member States would result in disillusion of the citizens. Therefore JEF still presses for the inclusion of the Charter in the Treaties as integral part of the Treaties, binding for the European Union’s institutions and Member States in applying EU legislation. The Treaties should be modified so as to allow the citizens of the Union access to the European Court of Justice in the issues tackled by the Charter.
2. The Charter can unfold all its potential only if the Union is given a real Government and democratic institutions, i.e. the capacity to pursue effectively the values and goals that the Charter will solemnly enshrine. The Charter should become an important part of a European federal Constitution, which should be the result of the next round of reforms starting after the Nice Treaty.
JEF urges the European Council to welcome the Draft of Charter of Fundamental Rights but at the same time to decide to continue work on the Draft and launch a public debate on the issue among the European citizens. In particular, JEF calls upon the European Council in Nice to launch a real "constituent initiative" and therefore mandate an inter-institutional Convention similar to the Fundamental Rights Convention, and not an Intergovernmental Conference, to prepare a comprehensive proposal for a European federal Constitution including a Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European citizens.