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Post 2015 Agenda

JEF Europe on the White Paper on the Future of Europe

After the underwhelming Bratislava agenda, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker today presented a white paper, which outlines different scenarios for the future of the European Union.

The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe, a non-partisan youth NGO active in over 30 countries, welcomes the debate on the future of Europe, but urgently stresses that further elaboration of the scenarios is needed to truly weigh out the pros and cons. As federalists and pro-Europeans, we are happy to contribute to the year-long process and debate and welcome the envisioned process of consultation with the European Parliament, national parliaments, local and regional authorities and civil society (see p.3), especially as it fits with our year-long campaign of #OurEurope.

The White Paper is a better start for discussions on our common future than the Bratislava Declaration since it includes more ambitious options, however it falls short compared to the recently adopted positions of the European Parliament, notably the Verhofstadt-Report, the Bères-Böge-Report and the Brok-Bresso-Report. We are pleased that the Commission shows that the scenarios of status quo and single market-only do not work, confirming what we have been arguing for generations. As such, those “options” are not really to be considered viable options for the future of Europe. When the Commission doubts that the Federalist option has enough support among citizens, we say that certainly there is no support for a status quo or market-only EU.

JEF argues, however, that the Commission’s options are only neutral on the surface: we think certain things must be improved, distinguished and substantiated. Why? It’s because words matter. For instance:

  • The more ambitious scenarios lack clear mapping of what it is we could achieve if we followed those options. Scenario three, a core-Europe vision, for instance, mentions a common European prosecutor as an idea for enhanced integration in the core. There is so much more to be said.
  • Youth, environment and democracy are mentioned three times, culture only once – economy and security more than 25 times, migration 15 times and crisis seven times. For a continent which has experienced a high level of youth unemployment in recent years, which has common European values including democracy, and which claims to be an environmental leader, this is rather poor.
  • The criteria chose in other scenarios to sketch the illustrative snapshots suggest that they have been used to indirectly promote scenario four, the scenario of doing less but more efficiently, which has the most favourable outcomes of all scenarios. As such, the Commission misses the opportunity to clearly map out the overwhelming advantages a support amongst all Member States for the federalist scenario five would bring. We will only be able to re-win citizens for the European idea, if we are able to inspire hope.

Despite Juncker’s mantra that “form will follow function” (p. 15), it’s telling that a democratic Europe, one of the cornerstones of our vision, is not truly part of the scenarios: only scenario five mentions the European Parliament as the institution that will become the final decision-maker for international trade agreements, a topic that is heatedly debated these days. Not looking into (institutional) forms shows that Juncker’s mantra of letting go of institutional details might have facilitated the start of the debate, but is insufficient for the rest of the debate: we need to discuss policies and institutional frameworks together.

We are happy to read that Altiero Spinelli’s work and the Ventotene manifesto are at the beginning and end of this paper – let’s make sure that the spirit of Altiero Spinelli and the Ventotene manifesto are not only at the beginning and end of this paper, but at the heart of it.
As the true Ventotene-kids on the block, we invite everyone to join this thought experiment during activities of our sections for the campaign #OurEurope, during the Ventotene seminar in Summer or on March 25th during the #MarchforEurope2017 in Rome.

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