Congress Strasbourg October 2005
The Congress of the Young European Federalists (JEF) met in Strasbourg (France) on October 28-30, 2005 and adopted the following resolutions:
The Resolutions in PDF document format can be downloaded below:
Resolution FC Strasbourg
- IP01 - On taking decision on number of delegates of JEF-Europe Congress
EP 01 – General Policy Resolution “The European Constitution, where next?”
At times of political difficulty equivalent to the present situation facing the European Union, it is vital that the federalist movement and JEF-Europe in particular, do not lose sight of the overall goal of a European Federation. All policy choices should be assessed according to the degree to which these could deliver progress towards this long-term aim.
Drawing points of principle or political direction solely from the everyday facts of the current political situation can be dangerous. We risk finding ourselves in a political cul-de-sac, or unable to develop interesting and appealing messages that will maintain the vibrancy of our organisation.
Ratification on hold: how can Europe move forward?
As a starting point we must acknowledge that the French and Dutch rejection of the European Constitution in its current form will make a re-start with the same old procedures and the same old text quite unlikely.
The position of JEF-Europe that the European Constitution would be a major step forward to make the EU more efficient and accountable, and would be a step on the way towards a European Federation, remains unchanged by this acknowledgement. JEF thus commits itself to support the ratification process as long as there are referendums and votes to win.
The majority of the EU citizens and member states have already said YES to this Constitution, either via ratifications in national parliaments or through referendums.
But for any future ratification to be legitimate, a reexamination of the text has to take place and a new ratification procedure has to be found.
This is why JEF believes that only with a bold political statement can European Governments unblock the ratification. It is necessary that the European Council agrees to the following three conditions:
· If the majority of citizens and two-thirds majority of member states ratify the Constitution, it should unconditionally enter into force.
· If such a majority is achieved, states rejecting the constitution should vote whether to join the “Constitutional” Europe or not.
· New forums of debate have to be created to re-connect with the citizens and elaborate on the short-comings of the current text and if possible suggest improvements to it.
However, with no further ratifications presently planned, and the Constitution subject to a ‘period of reflection’, JEF’s strategy must be adapted accordingly. The challenge for JEF is how to find a way to keep the debate about the European Constitution alive, while at the same time looking to advance the cause of federalism more widely. Putting forward concrete proposals during the ‘period of reflection’ are a short-term priority for the organisation. Our members, and other organisations, are asking JEF for its proposals for the period of reflection – we must not lose this chance to positively influence the debate about the constitutional future of Europe.
Short-term: The Constitution
JEF’s short-term message is that the ratification process cannot be stopped but wider debate is needed now to lay better foundations for the future ratification process of the possibly reviewed text.
JEF stresses that the absolute priority should be that the institutional modifications are kept and implemented; the basic principle of modern democracies is that policies are legislated by elected bodies rather than being stipulated in a constitution.
In light of this JEF demands from the European Council
· To present during the Austrian presidency a new schedule for a resumption of the Constitutional process along the lines of the current Duff-Voggenhuber proposal.
· The establishment of ‘Parliamentary Forums’ and ‘Citizens Conventions’ as soon as possible to bring back the debates to the citizens. The past months and in particular the run-up to the last referendums have shown that there is indeed wide-spread interest to discuss the future of Europe.
· For the Parliamentary Forums to come up with proposals for modifications of the Constitutional Treaty - if needed – in order to progress with the ratification of the Constitution
· To accept an end of a ratification procedure that gives a single country the right to stop further integration for the whole and mandate the “Parliamentary Forum” to elaborate a procedure for ratification of the modified text
JEF invites the EP to be an actor of the relaunch of the constitutional process and to adopt the Voggenhuber/Duff proposal of convoking soon a "European Congress” that will put together representatives of the European Parliament and national parliaments.
No cherry-picking or minimalist treaties
A Constitution is needed to make a positive step change in how the European Union is run – from a primarily intergovernmental construction to a political community in its own right. JEF-Europe hence rejects calls to transplant certain elements of the text of the European Constitution into the current treaties, or efforts to agree a minimalist treaty to amend the Treaty of Nice. Such lowest common denominator efforts will have no positive effect convincing reticent citizens that the EU is listening to their needs and could result in the politically dangerous situation where a comprehensive institutional revision would be sidelined.
Some of the changes proposed by the Constitution that can be achieved with no need for a Treaty can already be implemented – for example the opening of the meetings of the Council of Ministers. JEF must also continue to vigorously demand a stronger link between the European Parliament election results and the composition of the Commission. These changes are dependent on political will, not Treaty revision.
Medium term: focus on information and consultation
At the core of the problems the EU faces is a lack of information provided to citizens about its work and permanent channels for a dialogue with its citizens. Without more convincing efforts to explain the EU directly to its citizens, all hopes of advancing successfully and with public support towards the goal of a European Federation can effectively be abandoned. At the same time, though, broad consultations and substantial debates need to be initiated with the participation of all levels of society and with the aim to identify credible strategies and a vision to deal with the challenges the European Union is facing in today’s globalised world.
The Commission has understood this problem to some extent and proposed a “Plan D” for bringing Europe closer to its citizens. Although it comes too late, JEF welcomes this proposal and the efforts of Commissioner Wallström, but acknowledges much more needs to be done to overcome the EU’s institutional democratic deficit.
JEF-Europe will promote the idea of “2007: Year of Europe” and will work with other EU-wide NGOs for this plan to become a reality. This should be the start of a long-term and serious effort of connecting with the citizens. The European Union should commit €1 billion for a large scale dialogue with its citizens in 2007 (roughly 1% of its budget, and a meagre 0.01% of EU GDP) which would represent a five-fold increase in expenditure on explaining the EU. Young people should become permanently part of these efforts, with 1/5 of the available funds allocated to explain Europe to young people.
The “2007: Year of Europe” should provide the EU – via NGOs conducting some of the campaigns – with sufficient feedback to better understand people’s wishes. Numerous surveys, debate reports, video-diaries etc… will act as the starting point of a consultation phase that would follow. The Parliamentary Forums and Citizens Conventions on Europe could be used to promote a broad debate about Europe in local, regional and national media, as well as civil society to stimulate genuine interest in European affairs and all these efforts to culminate with the election of delegates to a Constitutional Assembly, mandated to produce the future Constitutional revisions.
Long-Term: Permanent change in treaty-revision methods
The referendums in France and Netherlands faced three main problems. Firstly, debates were national and not European. Secondly, citizens were presented with a take-it-or-leave-it situation that gave them little control. And, thirdly, it was not clear what a no vote meant (e.g. many French believed the Constitution could be renegotiated).
After the currently ongoing ratification process establishing a Constitution for Europe, the EU has the chance to consolidate and experience with the new opportunities. Still, even the current proposals are far away from a truly democratic and federal Constitution that JEF campaigns for. It will be an ongoing challenge for JEF to point out to any short-comings and campaign for our ultimate goal, a European Federation.
Establishing such an entity and thereby consolidating forever the unification of the Continent is not a life’s dream but in reach if we manage to enter a new quality of Europe with the ongoing debate. Therefore, we already have to point out now, that the only sustainable and democratic way to establish for a democratic European Federation is the elaboration through a Constituent Assembly, legitimised by the citizens.
It is also clear that this path is the only alternative if national governments are not willing to propose a serious schedule within the next months. Without establishing an ambitious plan to prepare Europe for a Constitution until 2009, political Union risks complete apathy and resistance. Instead of accepting further alienation in such a situation, JEF should then mobilise together with its partners in civil society and campaign for the immediate election of a Constituent Assembly.
JEF-Europe hence supports the idea of a Europe-wide referendum solely on the results of the elected Constitutional Assembly, in order to promote EU-wide debate and as a means of ratification preferable to national referendums.
If a majority of citizens and a substantial majority of its member states accept the new Constitution it will enter into force. Those states which have voted no, shall hold a second vote. If they re-confirm their negative choice, they have to negotiate with the constitutionalised Union as to how a future co-operation in the framework of the Nice Treaty or the EEA can be organised.
EP 02 – New financial commitments of the EU
submitted by the outgoing EB
- The difficulties to agree on the common agricultural policy and the British rebate were the main causes of the failure of the June European Council to reach a political agreement on the Financial Perspectives for the new programming period 2007-2013;
- By taking diametrically opposed positions, and talking purely in the national interest, the Member States brought the EU further into disrepute in the minds of its citizens – something that was again perceived as a fight between member states and Brussels”. On the contrary, negotiations have little to do with anything beyond pure national interests, with the EU institutions being sidelined.
- a rapid, but balanced, agreement on the European Union budget is necessary to ensure a smooth transition to the new programming period and to avoid discontinuity in policy-making and policy-implementation in the enlarged European Union;
- the rejection of the European Constitution by the negative referenda in France and the Netherlands has caused institutional and political inertia in the European Union;
- the reviewed Lisbon strategy offers the essential policy instruments such as stronger focus on education, research and development, and environmental protection to promote sustainable development of the European economy and its capabilities to become one of the most prosperous and dynamic economic players in the world;
- certain EU policies are outdated and do not serve the purposes of European citizens, but partial and small interest groups in our societies, while other issues of extreme importance remain unaddressed;
- the European Union urgently needs new sources of funding, arising from direct revenues in order to minimize its dependence on the member state contributions and open the path for new and increased spending, which meets broad European interests;
The ill-tempered wrangling over the EU budget at the European Council in June 2005 must never be repeated.
JEF-Europe hence asks that:
1. the negotiations are mainly confined to the level of appropriations in the separate policy headings, rather than on the overall fixed figure for expenditure, at the same time keeping a balanced budget;
2. In the short term, possible areas for the EU-taxation should be investigated and gradually these areas should become a part of the EU-budget alongside national contributions during an interim period. During this period, member states should equally make it clear to their citizens how the money they once contributed to the EU will be used differently.
3. The long term aim that by 2014 at the latest, the EU should be able to raise all of its own resources, through customs levies, and, importantly, through the introduction of a EU-wide system of taxation.
4. The total size of the EU budget, and the taxation system chosen to raise the required income, to be set in a democratically accountable way, i.e. these should be matters of party-political debate, to be decided in light of citizens expressing their views in the European Parliament elections.
JEF-Europe believes that:
5. Certain types of taxation – on aircraft fuel (kerosene) for example – could only practically be introduced at a supranational level, and hence may have especially strong justification when the principle of subsidiarity is applied.
6. One of the guiding principles of such a system should be that how the money is raised and used be transparent. When the tax is first introduced, Member States shall be obliged to make it clear to their citizens how the funds previously destined for the EU will be used nationally. The decision on the total size of the EU budget, and the precise format of the tax should be taken by both the European Parliament and the Council of EU, voting by qualified majority.
JEF-Europe will continually re-affirm:
7. The principle of subsidiarity should be central to any decisions about what the EU budget will be used for.
8. That the expenditure for research and development as well as education must be substantially increased;
9. That the European Commission presents an in-depth evaluation of the income and expenditure side of the European Union budget and the own resources arrangement before the end of the new programming period;
10. the British rebate should be abolished and the Common Agricultural Policy spending considerably reduced, followed by new commitments to resolve the issue in the interest of advanced, modern and just European society.
EP 05 – Resolution on the Challenge of Irregular Immigration at the External Borders of the European Union
Submitted by JEF-Malta and JEF-Catalonia
· Considering that migrations are a socioeconomic phenomenon inherent to human nature with a deeply rooted influence on the shaping of human history and geography;
· Deeply concerned about the recurrent events at the Southern borders of the EU.
· Deeply concerned about the most recent but, regrettably recurring events in the Southern borders of the EU;
· Increasingly worried by a trend among political leaders, reinforced by media, to criminalise migrations by focusing on repressive policies and border control, disregarding the fundamental importance of migrants in the present economic situation and in the enrichment of societies based on citizenship,
JEF calls on European Union and on all European governments to regard migrations as a complex reality needing a complex compound of sound policies reaching from border control to social aspects such as housing, health and education.
On the particular reality of irregular migrations, JEF wishes to state that:
· That the EU should oppose any attempt to create any “migration camp” in a non-EU country in order to manage regular or irregular immigrant influxes towards the EU.
· While acknowledging the efforts of the European Union to propose a new Directive regarding the common standards for irregular immigrants, JEF-Europe also bears in mind the reality of the challenges that are at the moment being faced by the Southern external borders of the continent from the continual influx of irregular immigrants and asylum seekers.
· While JEF-Europe welcomes the attempts of the European Union to cooperate with and aid the countries from which the irregular immigrants hail from, often travelling through the Mediterranean sea in inhuman, degrading and dangerous conditions, circumstances show that this has proven to be not enough. Southern European Members States are facing a situation that is slowly becoming unsustainable and the European Commission’s response has been viewed as slow at best, and at times even sluggish.
· JEF-Europe is concerned that the lack of clear solutions by the European Union to all countries concerned, being the recipients of irregular immigrants, and the countries from which they travel might lead to unilateral action by National Governments such as those in practice already – indeterminate detention, repatriation or re-allocation to countries where the record of respect of human rights is unfortunately dubious. These practices go against the human rights & freedoms so fundamental to the European Union and should therefore stop.
Therefore JEF-Europe demands:
· that the European Union Institutions give the rightful attention to the situation of irregular immigration and the plight faced by citizens of countries outside Europe who are forced to request asylum from countries which do not have the geographical or economic facility to provide it, and thus to have a more pro-active approach on the issue. The right approach would be the revitalisation of the ineffectual Barcelona process by dealing with its shortcomings and false hopes it raised in the past decade. In this respect the EU should reinforce its aid and political dialogue within the existing mechanism of the Euro-Med partnership
· that the European Union comes up with a strategy that would limit the irregular departure from Northern Africa of their citizens by a stricter enforcement of the Cotonou agreement clause regarding immigration policy and the negotiations on repatriation and readmission agreements.
· that the responsibility or irregular immigration is shared by all Member States through the offer of aid and cooperation in the form of offers of reallocation, and policies towards the integration of these asylum seekers in Europe, in line with the solidarity principle.
· coherence between the EU’s internal policy (such as the Customs Union) and its external policy towards third countries (such as the Cotonou Agreement) to ensure an improved trade policy, which would lead to a flourishing of their economic development.
EP 07 – Resolution on the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona process
Acknowledging that the new European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims at preventing the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours and offers them the chance to participate in various EU activities through greater political, security, economic and cultural co-operation, is a well-intended approach to construct a common European foreign and security policy towards some of its Eastern and Southern neighbours.
Bearing in mind the substantial cultural, economical, geographical, historical and political differences between EU’s new Eastern neighbours and the countries of the Mediterranean.
Being aware of the slow progress of the Barcelona process due to the challenges related to issues of democracy and respect for human rights, the difficult security situation in the Middle-East, the lack of progress towards a solution in the Western Sahara, and of the difficulties inherent to the whole approach.
Reminding, however, also of the positive impetus of the Euro-Med Partnership and the MEDA-program as the EU’s principal financial instrument for its implementation, especially in the youth sector.
Recalling its resolution regarding the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership adopted at the Barcelona Federal Committee meeting in March 2004.
- the inclusion of Libya on the list of partnership countries, meaning that now all Mediterranean countries are part of the Barcelona process;
- the formation of so-called “tailor-made” Action Plans that focus on bringing real benefits to both sides in a range of fields from Education to the Environment, and from Transport to Security Issues.
However JEF- Europe believes:
- that the political and economic reality of the EU's Eastern and Southern neighbors is of a different nature and as such needs a differentiated approach in terms of co-operation and political dialogue;
- that the ENP should not disregard the current Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, but rather include it, up-date it and – aiming to reach consensual solutions to present conflicts in the region – foster further dialog not only between the Mediterranean countries and the EU but mainly between themselves (the so-called South-South cooperation);
- the Barcelona process has to be reinforced in terms of a stronger political dialogue (from both sides), financial commitment and technical co-operation;
- that a reinforced Barcelona Process should remain the corner-stone of the Euro-Mediterranean relations, albeit in the framework of the ENP.
In this regard, JEF-Europe states that:
Since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona Process, we call upon EU institutions, EU member states’ and other countries’ institutions to use this occasion to ensure the implementation of the agreed policies, discuss the future developments and engage themselves financially in support of actions, such as the EuroMed component of the Youth Program.
 Such as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the case of Western Sahara
EP 09 – Resolution on Moldova and the Transdnistrian conflict
Acknowledging the EU’s special attention given to Moldova as direct neighbour emerged after the enlargement process and its contribution for their democratic development.
Taking into consideration that Moldova is deemed to be an important part of the European Neighbourhood Policy, EU’s support to this country is of utmost significance for the security, stability and prosperity of the region as part of Europe and a direct neighbour to the EU.
Concerned that such problems as low security, unsafe frontiers and internal instability that portray the region are, at this time durable and unsettled.
- Welcomes the support offered to Moldova regarding the settlement of the Transdnistrian conflict, thus increasing EU’s contribution to conflict resolution and peace building;
- Considers that the opening of the European Commission delegation to Moldova will foster EU- Moldovan relations and will ensure a harmonised approach to a more efficient Action Plan’s implementation;
- Believes that the ongoing conflict in Transdnistria merits special attention and further contribution to the endorsement of democratic reforms in the area;
- Calls for deeper economic integration accompanied by the promotion of sustainable development and poverty reduction, as well as a less complicated visa regime;
- Welcomes the initiative to integrate Moldova into EU guidelines such as youth policy;
- Urges EU to push on becoming a full right party in the negotiation process in the Transdnistrian problem;
- Believes that civil society plays a significant role in the building of a democratic, stable society and therefore subsidies given to NGO’s from Moldova are highly esteemed.
IP 01 – Resolution for a Sustainable Political Platform
JEF Europe is aware of the need for a universally valid and coherent basic document that encompasses JEF´s long term political positions. With the existing Political Platform the danger exists that it quickly becomes out-dated, and constant updates would be needed for it to reflect the newest JEF policies. Taking into account the limited time-frame of the bi-annual Congresses and the need for sustainable work on the existing text,
JEF Europe resolves to:
- Set up an ad-hoc working group on the political platform for the next 2 years in order to update and reform the Political Platform successfully.
- Ensure that the ad-hoc working group be chaired by a member of the Federal Committee but not sit concurrently with other working groups at Federal Committee meetings.
- Require that the ad-hoc working group be accountable to the FC and regularly present the progress at statutory meetings.
- Give the ad-hoc working group no formal powers, but only to act as a forum for debate and to present proposals to the next JEF Congress scheduled for autumn 2007.
- Mandate this ad-hoc working group to restructure the political platform into two parts. The first part should be a concise expression of the goals of JEF and the federalist movement expressed in ideological terms. This part would not need constant revision. The second part of the platform should be an amalgam of the political resolutions adopted by statutory meetings of JEF-Europe, and hence should be revised every 6 months according to the policies adopted by Federal Committee meetings and Congresses.
- Mandate the ad-hoc group to propose to the 2007 Congress ideas to ensure the political platform remains up-to-date, and incorporates the newest policies adopted by JEF-Europe.
- To give enhanced publicity to the new platform in as many languages as possible, and by a better visibility on the JEF-Europe website.
IP 02 – Lessons from the YES Campaign
Starting with October 2004, JEF-Europe has been the leading organisation running the European level YES Campaign in favour of the European Constitution. Working closely with the European Movement International (EMI) and the Union of European Federalists (UEF), a campaigning platform of civil society organisations was formed at the European level. Its main aim was to assist national campaign and promote the European dimension of the ratification process.
With very limited financial resources, the YES Campaign managed to mobilize a significant number of campaigners in different countries around Europe, mostly in those facing ratification by referendum. However, several lessons have to be drawn in order to make better use of the human resources in the pro-European organisations in the future.
- Format of the campaign
One of the leading elements of the campaign was linking the European-level organisations into a campaigning structure where every partner would be able to contribute according to its capacities. However several problems have been noted and the following recommendations could be suggested for the future campaigns:
- More importance should be paid to groups with specific working areas (development NGOs, Trade Unions…), widening the classical pro-European cooperation.
- For a large-scale campaigning effort a separate legal entity should be considered, making swift policy-reaction possible.
- Genuine cooperation should be made a priority during the time of the campaign - involving more consultations among the principle partners.
- A wider effort at drafting different scenario options should precede any campaign, thus considering more policy options. Timing may however make this complex.
- Cooperation with political parties
JEF has had a successful history of cooperation with political parties on single-issue campaigns. However, on wider-scale campaigns problems of such cooperation become evident:
- The campaign loses its civil-society nature and encounters the danger of becoming tied into party-political struggles.
- Many possible partners lose interest working along political parties due to reasons of principle.
- Subsidiarity principle during a European campaign
The adoption of the European Constitution was of a purely European interest in the view of JEF. However during the sequence of national referendums, the national interests tend to prevail and the principle of subsidiarity comes into question. In order to assure the maximum success of the campaign, but also respect of ideological beliefs, JEF should clarify the following questions:
- How much should be the campaign adapted to the national environment and how much should it follow European interest?
- How should inaction on the national level be countered?
- How can we better mobilize national human resources where a lack of national campaigning structures exists?
- Issues on which to campaign
The adoption of the European Constitution was widely regarded as of being in the interest of a vast number of civil society organisations and political parties. However, too often the support existed on paper and did not translate into consistent action and political commitment. Therefore the following points should be seriously considered in the future to guarantee that JEF‘s human resources are used in an effective way:
- the campaigning objective has to be shared by all the partners and only if this is clear should JEF commit to a large-scale campaign leading role,
- only issues of major importance to JEF should be translated into a financially consuming campaign, that also puts pressure on the human resources JEF operates with,
- JEF should seriously consider campaigning alone on the ground, where only limited impact can be made.
- Financial aspect
Before any future campaign, JEF and its partners should seriously consider the financial situation of the organisations and possibilities to increase these as the campaign progresses. Therefore:
- an objective fundraising plan should be drafted before the campaign starts,
- the campaign should in no way financially prevent the organisation from functioning normally, but should on the opposite open new ways of financing its functioning.
- Human Resources
An objective assessment of human resources available should precede any serious campaign effort. The level of mobilization of the activists in JEF should be at its maximum during the campaign and this requires considerable stress for the organisation.
The ratification of the European Constitution was a case of extremely complicated planning, since the format of ratification was not known until the very last moment, some of its elements even after the YES Campaign already started (dates of referendums in certain countries).
Any campaign in the future should therefore be preceded by a period of mobilization that should contain a strong effort of recruitment and educational build-up.
IP 03 – Resolution on Citizens Convention
very concerned by the lack of initiative of the Heads of State and government, in order to find solutions to the actual institutional crisis ;
fears that the period of reflection might turn into a period of complete inaction in a moment when Europe is needed on the international and national scene ;
observes that a majority of European citizens wants European institutional reforms and, in particular, a Constitution for Europe
Therefore, the Congress invites:
- the Jef activists and the organizations of the civil society that care for the future of Europe to participate in the “citizens’ Convention”, that will meet in Genoa on December 3-4;
- the national sections of JEF to work intensively so that other citizens’ Conventions will be organised in the as many EU countries as possible, to guarantee the widest involvement of the European citizens and the adequate support to the proposal of the European Parliament;
- the executive bureau of JEF Europe to engage concrete discussions with Margot Wallström's cabinet and the Austrian presidency, so as to enable a better communication between the European institutions and the citizens. Generally speaking, the next executive bureau of JEF Europe should lobby European institutions, in order to promote concrete solutions to the actual institutional paralysis and promote reforms ;
- the executive bureau of JEF Europe to organise a public action for a truly federal Constitution when the European Council discusses the matter in 2006.