The Union of European Federalists (UEF) is a non-governmental European organization, campaigning for a federal Europe. It consists of 20 constituent organizations and it has been active at the European, national and local levels for more than 50 years. It was founded shortly after World War II with the belief that only a European Federation, based on the idea of unity in diversity, could overcome the division of the European continent that had caused the suffering and destruction of the two World Wars. Federalists believed that only a common effort of European citizens working towards this goal could create a peaceful and democratic Europe guaranteeing freedom and the protection of human rights.
1. Foundation and Definition of Fundamental
The foundation of the UEF goes back to the meeting of federalist movements from 14 European countries in September 1946 in Hertenstein, Switzerland. These groups had in common that they believed that only a European federation based on the idea of unity in diversity could prevent a repetition of the suffering and destruction of the two world wars, so they adopted a declaration-programme which was based on this idea. Federalists believed that only a common effort of European citizens working towards this goal could create a peaceful and democratic Europe guaranteeing freedom and the protection of human rights. At a second meeting in Luxembourg these groups agreed on establishing a permanent European secretariat in Paris and another one in New York for global federalists. But it was in Paris, on December 15 and 16 1946 that UEF was officially brought into life its function being to co-ordinate and intensifies the activities of the different movements and to organize them into a federal structure.
2. From the Campaign for the European Federal Pact
to that for the European Political Community
After getting a legal status UEF campaigned for the European Federal Pact. It consisted of an attempt to transform the Advisory Assembly of the Council of Europe into the Constituent Assembly of the European Federation. The fundamental tool was a petition, signed by thousands of citizens of Europe and a large number of eminent persons in political, intellectual and scientific life, which asked the Advisory Assembly to draw up a text for a federal pact, and recommend its ratification to the member states of the Council of Europe. UEF also campaigned for the ratification of the European Defence Community and for the establishment of a political community.
3. The Federalist Split Ahead of the Rome
After rejection of the EDC project the federalists became increasingly divided as to the strategy to be followed by the U.E.F. between those who, following Altiero Spinelli (1907-1986), favoured the constitutional approach, and those who preferred a step-by-step approach. The former could not be satisfied with a mere common market; the latter fully supported it. This conflict led to a split of the UEF in July 1956 and its division into two organizations: the "Mouvement Fédéraliste Européen" (M.F.E.), formed from militants of the former constitutional persuasion, and the "Action Européenne Fédéraliste" (A.E.F.) bringing together those of the latter.
4. The Struggle for Direct Election to the European
Parliament and the Reconstitution of the UEF
But once the customs union had been established, bringing with it the prospect of developing into an economic and monetary union, the two federalist organizations came to agree on the desirability of coming together to relaunch their political activities, built around the campaign for direct elections to the European Parliament. This strategic idea, propounded by the Italian federalists, quickly became the joint platform of all the federalist organizations that met in April 1973, thus recreating UEF.
5. Time of demonstrations
The next most important activities of UEF were a lot of public demonstrations attracting thousand of participants. For example the demonstration in conjunction with the European Council in Rome in December 1975, where it was decided that the European election would be held even without the participation of Great Britain and Denmark (although in the end, they did take part), a demonstration with 5,000 participants in Strasbourg on July 17 1979 in front of the seat of the European Parliament, to coincide with its first session after its election in June the demonstration coinciding with the European Council in Fointainebleau on June 25 1984 and the spectacular demonstration in Milan – its 100,000 participants make it the biggest popular demonstration in the history of the federalist struggle – in conjunction with the European Council of June 28 and 29 1985, where the majority decided to call an Intergovernmental Conference to review to Community treaties.
6. The Campaign for the European Constitution
The fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the cold war, the German reunification and the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty let to the UEF campaign for European Democracy which included eliminate border controls between the countries of the European Union, parallelism between widening and deepening, strengthening of the roles of the European Parliament and the European Commission, extension of majority voting and the removal of governmental monopoly over the constituent function. The most important part of the history of UEF in the last decade was the Campaign for the Federal European Constitution in Nice in which 10,000 people, including hundreds of local administrators, participated.
UEF consists of constituent organisations that are autonomous centres of the UEF activities, reaching the EU citizens and spreading the UEF message to them by organising various activities in their countries. Constituent organisations are free to take up any activities within the general political framework of UEF at the European level.
The UEF Congress
The Congress is the 'general assembly' of UEF. It meets every two years; it consists of delegates of the UEF constituent organisations. It determines the policy of UEF, elects the UEF President, modifies provisions of the Statutes and elects half of the Federal Committee members.
The UEF Federal Committee
The FC consists of members of whom 50% are elected directly by the UEF Congress and 50% by the constituent organisations. The members are elected to serve until the next UEF Congress. The FC determines the UEF political direction and activities between the Congresses. It organises the Congress, approves the annual budget and final account balances, draws up the rules of procedure of UEF, and elects the UEF Bureau and Treasurer.
The UEF Bureau
Elected by the Federal Committee for a period of two years, the Bureau carries out the decisions of and is accountable to the Federal Committee.
Conference of Represantitives
It is convened upon the request of the UEF Bureau or at least two constituent organisations. The Conference gathers the representatives of the constituent organisations and of UEF supranational (namely, the President, Secretary-General and Treasurer). It presents its proposals to the Federal Committee and has an advisory and co-ordinating role. The Conference also determines the rate of the membership fee.
The UEF President is elected by the UEF Congress by absolute majority vote. He is also the President of the Federal Committee and of the UEF Bureau. Currently the UEF President is Andrew Duff, UK member of European Parliament.
Elected by the Federal Committee on the nomination of the Bureau, s/he is responsible for the management of the funds. S/he is accountable to the Federal Committee. The current UEF Treasurer is Anders EKBERG.
The UEF Secretary-General is responsible for running the UEF secretariat and carrying out the decisions delegated to him/her by the organs of UEF. S/he participates in the meetings of the organs of UEF without the right to vote. S/he is appointed by the Federal Committee on recommendation of the Bureau. Currently the UEF Secretary-General is Joan-Marc Simon.
Consists of seven members elected by the Congress. It ensures the application of the Statutes and serves as an arbiter in case of disputes within the organisation.
To raise the awareness of the public about European issues, the UEF is organizing public debates, seminars, info stands, campaign and street actions on key European issues and developments.
To exercise pressure on the like-minded politicians by lobbying actions, establishing Platforms (aiming to spread the understanding of federalism) and initiating debates in the European and national parliaments.
To spread the ideas through a strong communication via press releases, the UEF website and newsletter and other policy statements to the widest European public and actors.
To cooperate with others non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and especially of the European Civil Society like the Young European Federalists (JEF) and the European Movement and finally to put pressure on politicians by organizing public manifestations.