EM Germany: Europe – Now more than ever! A General Assembly between Brexit and Bundestag elections
“To pursue the European path together is worth every effort-there is no better alternative!” So clear was the European Movement Germany’s (EM Germany) position that emerged at its Federal Assembly, hosted this year by the German Farmers’ Federation (DBV). Four days after UK citizens voted to leave the European Union, assembled delegates of the EM Germany’s member organisations agreed on a twelve-point Political Agenda for 2016/2017. The Political Agenda, titled “Think, act and govern in a European way”, focuses on further developing European integration and German EU policy. The General Assembly also elected the next EM Germany Board, which will be responsible for the realisation of the Agenda.
The keynote of guest speaker Peter Altmaier was met with great anticipation and excitement. The Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery cautioned the delegates to not draw hasty conclusions from the Referendum result. A fundamental reorganisation of the community would require changing the EU treaties. Finding the necessary unanimity of all Member States is currently unrealistic: “I advocate avoiding falling into a yearlong debate on unanimous versus majoritarian decision-making. The people are expecting solutions to the urgent problems”, he said – such as the refugee crisis, youth unemployment or safeguarding the overall level of prosperity.
“The EBD [EM Germany] will continue to be an engaged and critical partner,” EM Germany President Rainer Wend began his speech. Concerns and hesitations around future EU treaty changes were understandable. However: “We need a clear declaration by politicians that a dialog on national and European ‘design flaws’ is desired!” Therefore, EM Germany’s Political Agenda includes numerous suggestions and ideas on how the European Project can be made more democratic and more transparent.
With an eye toward the EU Referendum in the UK, Wend reminded the Assembly about the dangers of populism. As long as national politicians in almost every European capital city use Brussels as a scapegoat, there will be potential to sway citizens. “We need a clear statement on the EU’s future democratic developments,” Wend demands. To this end he also wishes that ahead of the German Bundestag’s elections the German national political parties have a stronger profile on European policy.
Still visibly shaken from the UK Referendum results, Head of Representation of the European Commission in Germany Richard Kühnel warned against using Brexit as an occasion call into question European integration itself. He reminded participants that Thursday’s referendum resulted in a ‘Brexit’ was in large part due to two-thirds of young pro-European British voters not showing up to the voting booth. It is therefore important to strengthen participation. Thus, as a bridge between citizens and the elite, the European Movement is indispensable, according to Kühnel.
Please find a Facebook album of EM Germany’s ‘Network Day’ here: https://www.facebook.com/NetzwerkEBD/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10154104668671253
Find the members of EM Germany’s board here: http://www.netzwerk-ebd.de/nachrichten/weisser-rauch-fuer-28-mitglieder-im-ebd-vorstand/