XXIII. UEF European Congress in Brussels from 25 - 27 March, 2011

The 23rd European Congress of the Union of European Federalists (UEF) took place on 25-27 March 2011 in the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. This year federalists gathered under the slogan “Federal Europe – Time to Decide” to react as a united federalist force to the latest twists and turns in the tale of economic government. Keeping in mind that EU is facing an urgent dilemma about its strategic direction, the UEF worked to steer decisions towards deeper integration, a stronger Union and a more efficient democracy.

Andrew Duff, President of the UEF welcomed more than 200 delegates from national UEF chapters, Young European Federalists (JEF), representatives of European and international federalists’ movements and observers. The congress was officially opened by the European Parliament president Jerzy Buzek, who spoke of the need not only of instruments to ensure the success of the European project, but the political will and the money to finance it. He emphasized the need for inter-parliamentary, not just intergovernmental, cooperation. He also spoke of his regret that current interventionist operations in Libya were not being carried out under a European flag, despite the involvement of a number of member states.

Mr. Buzek's speech was followed by a video address by Viviane Reding, Vice President of the European Commission, who used her address to the UEF Congress to focus on the need to create a link between the institutions and its citizens. The first day of the three-day congress also included a public debate, moderated by Mr. Duff, in which high-level members of the European Parliament, Isabelle Durant, Andrey Kovatchev and Elmar Brok addressed the triple focus of the event : economic governance, security and defense policy and the European citizens initiative.

On the second day of the Congress, participants joined Political Commissions on Global Challenges and Economic Governance (with the participation of Alberto Majocchi, President of the Institute for Studies and Economic Analyses), Foreign Security and Defence Policy (with the participation of Pierre Vimont, Secretary General of European External Action Service) and Federalists Action and the European Citizens Initiative (with the participation of Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Vice-President of the European Parliament 2004-2007) to engage in a deep analysis of the current EU issues and work on the creation of federalists’ response. The highlight of the day was the speech of the former European Commissioner and President of Bocconi University Mario Monti.

During the Congress, the theme resolution ''European Federal Union, Time to Decide" was unanimously adopted, therefore urging numerous changes in the work of the European Union in the next 3 years, before the next European Parliament elections, which are expected to be held in 2014.

Congress was brought to a close with the re-election of British Liberal MEP Andrew Duff as the President of the Union of European Federalists. With an overwhelming majority of votes in favour of Duff staying on as the leader, the federalists demonstrated their confidence in their president, who thanked them for the opportunity to lead the organisation in bold pursuit of the campaigns and challenges agreed upon. “It’s a great privilege to be able to continue to lead the Union of European Federalists for another two-year term. This is a fruitful time to reanimate and deepen political thought across Europe about what kind of European Union we wish it to be. The federal movement continues to believe that Europe will only prosper if integration deepens”, said Duff.

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