XXVI UEF European Congress and subsequent Federal Committee
The Congress elects the President. The Federal Committee elects: 1) the Secretary General 2) the Treasurer 3) the Vice-Presidents, in a number to be decided by the Federal Committee 4) Bureau Members, in a number between five and fifteen members to be decided by the Federal Committee.
In view of our Congress in Vienna in November, I am writing to explain in few words why I have decided to present my candidacy to the Presidency of UEF.
My first reason is simply and openly a political one. Non-partisan, of course, but very political. Why? Because we are witnessing a major conflict between two visions for Europe: liberal democracy versus nationalism, rule of law versus intolerance, openness versus closure, multilateralism versus unilateralism.
In a nutshell, the Spinelli’s message has never been so strong and so current: that new cleavage between federalism and nationalism is more and more at the center of European and national debates. And in this context, we, European Federalists, must take on all our responsibilities and renew our commitment for the European cause.
What drives people into the hands of our enemies is that they have lost trust in the current system to deliver solutions: therefore without more delay we must get out of this status quo and relaunch a strong process of European reform addressing ourselves to all the political forces sharing our values, our concerns, our goals.
More generally, we, as UEF, have an important role to play in uniting all democratic political forces to defend the European idea from the illiberal challenges and to provide ideas for European solutions and a European reform agenda.
My second reason is a personal one, an obvious continuation of my European and professional path.
I am a committed European, with academic and professional experiences in 7 European countries. Experience in practically all the EU institutions as well as in organised civil society. I am pro-European and pro civil rights. My experience ranges from the Erasmus programme to the Italian regional government, from civil rights and pro-European associations to the European Council, passing through the Italian Government and Parliament, European Commission, Council of Ministers, European Parliament and Council of Europe.
Over the years I have basically lived Europe from many different perspectives, as an active citizen, as a professional and through my several political and institutional experiences. I thought therefore that I was now well placed to put my convictions, my commitment and my experience at the service of our common endeavour as UEF.
I am well aware of the very good job which has been done so far, on one hand, but also fully cognisant of the organisational challenges that we face on the other.
For the Federalist movement to play a successful role, we need to redouble our efforts to deliver for national sections, encourage the smallest sections to grow, and to intensify our advocacy at the European level. UEF must become a real opportunity for all the national sections to expand our common European initiative.
In light of previous discussions you held, and of my first analysis, we should be able to immediately develop some aspects of our strategy: to promote events and projects with a new added-value and able to meet the new funding priorities of our potential donors. I feel that this is a concern shared by many national sections and on which I am willing to commit through the collective action and a clear strategy of the new Executive Bureau. We must do all we can to secure our financial situation and to diversify our donors. To this end, bureau members should identify clear advocacy priorities and take ownership of tasks and responsibilities to reach our common objectives.
Last but not least, I will be always open to ideas, concerns and proposals from all the national sections. Within this well-defined context, I am ready to use my experience and networks to strengthen the presence of UEF and represent the UEF positions in the political debate at the European level in this very delicate and decisive phase of European integration.
We need to show determination, commitment, and team spirit. Above all, we need to show courage, in our ideas as well as in our actions.
As a former DJ, I would like to end this letter with a popular quote by the band Arcade Fire “...now I’m ready to start”. However, that being said, I believe that it is imperative for us now to return to our roots and to remind ourselves of the spirit of our founding fathers - of all of them, not just of the best known ones. Think of the many unknown Federalists, active citizens, civil servants, politicians who have fought for our European project away from the limelight. Let us recall what some of them used to say and write at the beginning of this incredible European adventure and which still holds true even more for us today: “...tut etwas Tapferes…”, it is time for an act of courage. It is time for a European Federation.
I would like to submit my candidacy for a new mandate as Secretary General.
Despite the recent and ongoing financial difficulties and uncertainties, the political and organizational achievements of the last few years are many and we can leverage on them to start a new cycle and relaunch our European organization.
Our partnership with the Spinelli Group has been a game-changer for our political impact and visibility. Flagship events such as March for Europe and the high-level debates in national parliaments in Rome, Madrid, Paris and Brussels have been political and organizational successes.
Our advocacy activities for key reports of the European Parliament have contributed to their partially federalist outcome.
Organising our meetings outside Brussels has become the norm and has given us the opportunity for high-profile political events to reach out to new political circles in a number of countries and support the political growth of some of our national sections.
A comprehensive system for policy development and training (Academy, Training Seminar, PC seminars) has been set up to support the growth and training of our sections. Our communication channels have become more diversified and professional. Last but not least, we have forged a very close bond with JEF, laying the ground for a renewal of our organization.
The European Secretariat has grown in size and professionalism to manage an increased range of diverse activities. A young and motivated staff has balanced our limited resources.
The ongoing uncertainties on our finances cast a dark shadow on these achievements, put in question the sustainability of our European structures and ambitions, and call for a serious reflection on our political profile and the structures and way of working of our organization.
Our voice in the campaign for the European elections and beyond must be clearly federalist, coherent and recognizable across Europe. We can help rallying pro-Europeans forces against the project of nationalists and populists. At the same time, we should challenge mainstream politicians who constantly postpone decisions and keep Europe in an unsustainable status quo. The case for a federal Europe must be made with relentless conviction.
After the elections, the federalist-minded members of the European Parliament will be our best allies to force a process of European renewal and reform and our partnership with the Spinelli Group remains essential to their mobilization and setting their political agenda.
High-level political initiatives to spur key governments to move forward and reform the European Union, and in particular the Eurozone, is a challenge to face with sense of urgency
and purpose. Focused and structured advocacy actions in coordination with national sections should be our common practice, to be actors and not observers in the political process.
Pan-European actions to bring our federalist activists visibly in the streets, together with some flagship public events in key moments of the upcoming political cycle, would help us regain the profile of a more dynamic, outward-looking and citizens-oriented organization, increase our visibility and reputation with stakeholders, and give a boost to our grassroots capabilities.
Sections and membership should be a top priority. In too many countries, our sections are too small to have an impact. In some countries, sections have become dormant. A plan focused on the growth of some key national sections can make a difference. There is also vast potential for direct individual members and for new members and supporters in the EU institutions.
Our comprehensive system of training and policy development should be preserved, finances permitting, leveraging also on partnerships with national sections. A more focused content and a better follow-up on the outcome of all our meetings would benefit our work.
Communication remains a point of great weakness and we must learn to do better, adopting the right mindset for modern political communication and investing the necessary efforts and resources into it. It is a challenge that cuts across content, language and channels.
Our network of sections across Europe, our pan-European nature, and our close partnership with JEF (our best hope for the future!) should be the corner stones of all we do.
I remain convinced that UEF is more than the sum of our national sections and that there is significant added value in developing European capabilities to run dedicated political activities at European level and to provide support to our sections and their growth and impact.
Maintaining an ambitious level of European activities will be possible only if we change our way of working. As our finances remain an existential challenge, our best strength remain our volunteers. Our Bureau should become again a working body and a working team. Our members of the Federal Committee who want to be involved in specific activities (from communication to events, to name just two) should have the opportunity to do so. Openness, democracy, transparency and loyalty to our ideals are vital to their engagement.
Gone are the times when we were the only political movement for a federal Europe, if not even the only pro-European campaigners. Today we witness a mushrooming of new pro-European movements of any sorts across Europe. Often they occupy a space that we have left void. While we benefit from our history and reputation as the oldest pan-European federalist organization, it is easy to be complacent with ourselves. There are many habits entrenched in our organization and in the way we operate that call for a reflection and a challenge. We should have a drive to learn from best practices of others with no fear of experiments and change.
Eventually our impact will be determined only by our ability to lead with our federalist ideas and actions, the sharpness and relevance of our proposals, the focus and timeliness of our initiatives, our ability to reach citizens and politicians, and last but not least the skills we are able to build and the enthusiasm and dedication we are able to inspire in our activists across Europe, starting from the ones who take responsibilities in our statutory bodies.
Our activists and sections, as well as our partners and stakeholders, are looking forward to the Congress in Vienna for a clear sign of political and organizational change and renewal. A new President and a renewed Bureau will help us unleash our political potential. I would be happy to give my contribution continuing as your Secretary General.
I am a young professional in EU affairs strongly committed to the federalist movement. After having been the Director of the UEF Secretariat for the last 2.5 years, and previously the Policy & Advocacy Officer for 1.5 years, I left my position in October to become an independent consultant in EU affairs and dedicate more time to volunteer activism and grass-root political action.
I am a Spanish-born French-raised European patriot. I feel grateful to belong to Spain’s first generation born as EU citizens. It has always been natural to me to take the greatest benefit from all the opportunities offered by the Union. Europe is my home space and European citizenship my first identity.
In 2013 I obtained a Master’s degree in EU International Relations and Diplomacy from the College of Europe (Bruges campus), in 2012 a Master’s degree in EU Institutions, Economy and Societies from the University of Geneva, and in 2010 a Master’s degree in Applied Foreign Languages from the University Lyon 3, where I studied Russian, Polish and Anglo-Saxon cultures.
In a context of raising nationalism and populism, the work of federalist and pro-European movements is more important than ever. However the multiplication of associations and reduction in funding opportunities make it more difficult for organisations like ours to have the necessary political impact.
In this context, UEF will need to recast its financial structure and rethink its positioning. To achieve this objective, as the UEF Treasurer I would focus my work on 1) reaching out to private and public donors with an innovative and attractive offer of projects to diversify and secure funding; 2) helping the association better exploit the resources at its disposal and 3) fostering cooperation with pro-European stakeholders across the EU.
For the last years, I have de facto managed UEF finances in all their aspects (accounting, budgeting, managerial reporting, grant applications and reporting, relations with external auditors and third party donors). I am confident that my in-depth knowledge of the association, experience in project development and good working relations developed within the movement and beyond will be crucial for our organisation to succeed in the coming years.
I studied political sciences and have a Master’s degree in European projects at local level. From 2003 to 2015 I was involved in the work of JEF at all levels of the organization.
I was in particular President of JEF-Europe between 2011 and 2015, and thus ex-officio member of UEF Board. I was also editor-in-chief of Thenewfederalist.eu for one year, Secretary-General of the European Movement-France from 2009 to 2010, member of the board of European Movement International from 2012 to 2014 and Vice-president of UEF-France in 2015-2017. I’m currently member of UEF-Europe Federal Committee and EM-France Board. I’ve also been President of Friends of JEF for one year and a half. Professionally, after several years in local administration, I work now for the Ministry of sport in France.
I’ve been member of the federalist family since 2003 and took various responsibility in JEF. Being “too old” for JEF but still very much motivated to act concretely for a federal Europe, I want to be more involved and take responsibility in UEF. I do think that the next years are crucial for Europe and for UEF as an organization.
I see three priorities I’m ready to contribute to :
1) Use the political momentum opened by the European elections to promote federalist ideas and position UEF as THE expert on European issues;
2) Maintain the sustainability of the organization regarding finances, the involvement of new generations and the support to smaller sections (by twinning between sections for example);
3) Improve our internal functioning : with a smaller secretariat, we need a working board and FC.
That’s why I want to used my NGO and professional experiences linked with a hard-working nature to the benefits of UEF and federalist goals.
Originally from southern Germany, my federalist life started when I re-founded JEF Stuttgart in 2008. I have since been active on all levels of JEF and UEF.
Having been a European federalist before I experienced the opportunities of a united Europe myself, it is probably fair to say that the federalist movement changed my life. I have been President of JEF Europe since 2015, re-elected one year ago until autumn 2019. I also had the privilege of serving on the UEF bureau for the past three years and helped bringing our two organisations closer together.
Professionally, I worked as a negotiator for the British government on EU Financial services regulation, then, fleeing Brexit, I became a policy adviser to a German MEP. From November, I will be working full-time for JEF Europe to carry out the biggest election campaign we have ever done. I have a background in history and political science and hold a degree in European law from the College of Europe.
I got to see UEF from its strongest and its weakest sides during the past mandate and that only got me more motivated to help where I can to make UEF the organisation we need to fight back against a growing illiberal and nationalist challenge. UEF can become a real resource to its national sections if we are courageous enough to rethink some of what we do and we adjust our activities so we can continuously attract funding.
There is also an important role to play for UEF in European level advocacy and I would be eager to help occupying this space in the public debate. Put simply, there is too much in UEF that is worth preserving for us not to modernise and to make sure UEF has a future in the 21st century. Also, there is too much to do and there is too much federalist passion running through my veins to go into “federalist retirement” once my JEF time is over.
PhD (Dr. phil.) in Political Science at the Gutenberg University Mainz (Prof. Werner Weidenfeld) with a dissertation on the development policy of the European Parliament
1981-1991: Research fellow, since 1989 Deputy Director, Institut für Europäische Politik / Bonn
1991-94 Public employee of the Representation of the Rhineland-Palatinate State Government in Bonn and Brussels
1994-7/2014 Head of the European affairs department of the representation for Federal and European Affairs / Rhineland-Palatinate State Government, Berlin
Member of the Praesidium of Europa Union Deutschland and Vice-President of the Bureau of the Union of European Federalists.
Author and editor of publications in the field of the institutional framework and the policies of the European Union Visiting professor (Lehrbeauftragter) at the Gutenberg University Mainz (1984-1996), College of Europe Bruges/Brügge (1989-1994) and the Humboldt-University Berlin (2002/2003), University Speyer (since 2016).
Civic engagement for Europe is very important to me. In addition to my commitment to the Europe Union Germany, I will support a strong UEF, which in my opinion is important and absolutely necessary. We have to strengthen our smaller member associations so that the federalists are visible throughout Europe. Especially in the current difficult situation of the EU, we have to show clearly and to explain to the citizens the advantages of European unification.
Moreover we have to develop ideas and concepts for the future of Europe and we have to present those ideas and concepts to the politicians, to our members and to the broader public. For this I can and I want to make a contribution due to my manifold professional and voluntary experiences. I am particularly interested in institutional aspects and the question of how the EU can be made more accessible to the citizens. Above all, this includes strengthening the socio-political dimension in Europe.
Raphaël Bez is Secretary General of UEF/EMI Switzerland since September 2018 after having served as Deputy Secretary General from November 2017 to August 2018. Previously, he worked for various organisations in the social field and the promotion of youth as well as for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Berne and in Vienna (Austria) at the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the OSCE.
He has been involved for more than fifteen years in youth organisations such as the Scout movement or others active in the field of foreign policy and international relations, and currently represents JEF Switzerland on the Board of the Swiss National Youth Council.
He holds a Bachelor degree in political science (University of Lausanne) and a Master degree in European studies (University of Fribourg).
Switzerland has the particularity of having chosen not to participate in the process of European integration (yet!) while having offered, for many years, fertile ground for the development of the ideas behind it. UEF Switzerland has been committed to overcoming this paradox: we do not want to wait until Switzerland becomes a member of the European Union to actively participate in the development of the construction of our continent.
It is in this spirit, aware of the close historical ties between Switzerland and the UEF, that I wish to join the Bureau and bring my personal experience and "Swiss perspective" to the development of a federal, united Europe that is moving forward while ensuring the well-being of its citizens. It is necessary for us to overcome national divisions – we need to think European. And this also applies to the inhabitants of my country.
In 2009, I joined Europa Union Deutschland and became an active member of its Brussels organisation.
From 2011 to 2015, I was an elected member of the Executive Committee of the EUD Brussels organisation and served from 2013 to 2015 as Vice-president.
Since 2013, I am an elected member of the UEF Federal Committee. During this period at the European level, I was able to establish an extensive network.
Since I moved to Germany, I have been a member of the Europa Union Saar, one of the regional organisations of EUD.
In my professional life, I am a lawyer working in the public sector in Saarland (Germany). I studied law at the University of Muenster and at the Università degli Studi Roma Tre (Erasmus grant), as well as canon law at the University of Muenster and at the Pontificia Università Gregoriana in Rome.
We, as Federalists, have a paramount contribution to make in the context of the many challenges Europe is facing today. For this reason, we need a strong UEF and strong member organisations. I am presenting myself as a candidate for election as member of the UEF Bureau so as to promote the dialogue among, and the deepening of the cooperation, between the member organisations of UEF. From my point of view, a special focus should be placed on support for the development of smaller and (relatively) new member organisations of UEF.
43 years old, Italian who lives and works in Luxembourg,
I spent a big part of my life working as a volunteer activist in the federalist organisations, covering several executive positions in both JEF and UEF at Italian and European level. I am married to a fellow federalist and father of 2, and I work in the Research and Technology Organisation of the Government of Luxembourg with the mission to promote digital innovation in Luxembourg and internationally.
The dream of a united Europe has never been more in danger. Being a European federalist has never been more unpopular. Illiberal autocracies are replacing liberal democracies in several EU countries including my homeland, Italy. UEF itself is struggling to survive due to organisational and political difficulties.
After having reduced my commitment as a consequence of the birth of my two children, I feel the need to start fighting again to keep that dream alive, for myself, for my children, and for their children, who deserve to leave in peace and prosperity.
I am a Greek lawyer, specialised in European Law and in Private International Law.
I joined the European Commission in 1992 and since then have been working in different policy areas (telecommunications, internal market, environment, justice and home affairs). I have vast experience in relation to the functioning of the European Institutions and am a specialist on migration, security, people mobility and human rights.
My work focuses on global migration issues, international negotiations and corporate social responsibility, as well as sustainable development and private sector. I am an active citizen in the city where I live (Brussels) and support civil society organisations dealing with homelessness, as well as children and women in poverty.
From 2014-2017, I was the president of European Demos, a Greek federalist NGO .
Over the past 3 years, I have had the honour to chair the UEF PC 4.
Coming from a country where the anti-European feeling has increased dramatically in recent years, I would like to work as an UEF Bureau Member towards an enhanced cooperation between big and small UEF sessions, developing joint activities focused on EU citizens’ main concerns about the European Union, presenting the main European achievements in a comprehensive way and promoting European citizenship based on common values.
I would like to develop UEF actions promoting sustainable and inclusive society, working closely with other civil society actors and professional associations. I would like to work to improve internal rules, introduce changes where necessary, promote transparency and develop the gender dimension at all levels of UEF activities. I strongly believe that UEF has the experience and the capacity to develop and promote a strong narrative responding to citizens' expectations for a federal Union based on democracy, values and solidarity.
In my political work since 1985 I have been interested in European politics.
As a member of the national parliament I was delegated to the European Convention and since that time I deal with topics like constitution, treaties, reform of the European Institutions and so forth.
From 2004 on I have been a Member of the European Parliament for 10 years. During that time I also was part of a high-level working group of CEPS on Institutional Reforms. I also was present in the meetings of the Spinelli-Group in the European Parliament.
In 2014 I did not run again for the elections, but I continued working on European topics.
Actually I am working for the EUREGIO Tirol-Südtirol-Trentino, I am holding seminars for teachers on Europe and last but not least I am vice-president of the UEF Austria. In this function I attended several meetings of the UEF and – considering the dramatic political situation in Europe – I want to present myself as a candidate as Bureau member.
My motivation to present myself as a candidate is founded in my personal history and in the present political situation. Observing the growing euro-scepticism and the negative attitude towards the Union I am convinced that we need to present the European public a positive vision of our common European future. We are living in a time of growing fears and anxieties for which we have to present answers.
We have to reach out also to those who search for orientation in a complex global world. Information, engagement and courage are needed for all of us. I want to support new creative ways of communicating Europe and for the presentation of our opinion in the public. We have to be the driving force for reforms within the Union, for our European values and stand firm against neo-nationalism and intolerance.
I am convinced that our vision of a future Europe has the power to initiate positive changes in our societies.
Professionally, Physician (Medical Doctor). After practising as a clinician, I got a Master, then a PhD in health systems management, and became an expert in health informatics . Qualified in Public Health, I was appointed as medical adviser with public and private health insurance bodies, have been an officer at the French Ministry of health, and an associate lecturer at University of Saint-Étienne.
Actively involved in several European R&D projects in Health Informatics (4 successive Framework Programmes), and in Standard Development activities with CEN (European Standardisation Committee), the last 20 years of my professional career made me extensively travel Europewide (and beyond), regularly working with numbers of field actors as well as many EC officers.
Chairing and leading several working groups or bodies, I am proud of having facilitated consensus emergence between European actors having diverse practice and culture, notably administrative.
I have been growing since my teenage as a proud citizen of Europe, and a determined European federalist.
During several years, I regularly attended the UEF Federal Committee activities as an observer, then a member. I have been elected at the Executive Bureau in 2013. Following, I have been regularly taking part in its meetings, which I think I only missed once, certainly being one of its most diligent members. I have always supported the concept of a more active, effective and operational EB, taking its right part of the burden to run our organisation, which is now an unquestionable need. Europe is at a crossroad.
The coming election will prove a fight to the death between nationalists living in a mythical past, and actors of an open future, with a strong and proud Europe, rich of its citizens and its diverse culture and civilisation. In this context, I commit myself to relentlessly contribute to militant activities and management tasks to the profit of our cause and our organisation.
Domènec Ruiz Devesa is a lawyer, economist and political scientist (Spain, 1978). He holds a graduate degree in European Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
Domènec has been a senior advisor at the Ministry for the Presidency, a parliamentary assistant at the European Parliament, and currently is the deputy chief of cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Domènec is active in European federalism since 2013, when he co-founded UEF Madrid. He has served as member of the EB since 2016.
I look forward to continue as a member of the EB since I believe it is important to represent the views of a young, dynamic and growing section, the Spanish one. I think UEF has to be at the vanguard, instead of following the political class. At the EB, I would like to promote more effective influence in the policy makers, and keep fighting for issues such as asylum as a Federalist topic, alongside culture and institutional reforms. I also support more work on global federalism.
Italian, born in 1959, graduated in philosophy and licensed teacher in history and philosophy in high schools, I have started to be active in JEF and UEF - and to be member in the European and national statutory bodies of our organizations - since mid ‘80s.
At present I am MFE Secretary general, responsible, together with the National President, to manage the Italian federalist section.
I have been secretary of my local MFE section in Pavia for many years (from 1986 to 2014), and I have always been very committed in recruitment and training activities, being also responsible for the regional training seminar in Lombardia on “Federalism and European unity” (since 1995): I have been Deputy director of the Spinelli Institute from 1988 to 2001 in charge of the organization of the Ventotene international seminar. I am editor of the European Letter and assistant to the editor of The Federalist.
I have been member of the UEF Executive Bureau in the past two terms and I am willing to continue my commitment.
I think federalism, as political thinking and as organization, is facing an existential challenge in front of the rise of nationalism. I believe UEF must strongly advocate the creation of a federal political union inside EU.
In this regard I think it is fundamental to coordinate at best national and European campaigns and activities, and this is one of my main tasks also as Secretary General of the Italian section.
A pro European since the mid 1990 and active in UEF since 1999, I am Secretary General to Groupe Europe, a one-of-a-kind section open to EU officials and staff in the broad sense of the word.
I believe we need more Europe targeting the needs for common goods such as a unified economic policy, a true EU budget and strong Eurozone budget to address current imbalances in the EMU.
I promote active citizenship and democracy and support a strong message on Federal Europe.I believe in alliances with pro European forces.
Vice-Chairperson of Europa-Union Baden-Württemberg in the southwest of Germany, with over 3000 members one of the strongest sections of UEF.
Founding member of the German Green Party and the first Green Youth (Grüne Jugend).
Business consultant for tech Start-Up companies in the south of Germany since 1998.
As a long-standing member of UEF and our German section, and of the PC for Foreign- and Security Policy in the UEF-FC, I would like to continue my work in the Executive Bureau, across national and party lines, and help build and grow the smaller UEF sections, especially in the EUSDR Danube region.