About JEF


Young Europeans simply a generation ahead

Our Story


While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.

In the 1950s the first groups of young federalists appeared as a youth section of the Union of European Federalists (UEF). The Young European Federalists organised themselves into so-called ‘JEF sections’, a term we still use nowadays for national, regional or local organisation structures. These sections established a European structure with a European office in Paris in 1949. 

Perhaps most notably among the actions carried out in those early days of JEF was the dismantling – and in some cases burning – of border posts, a clear symbol that a united Europe had not yet (and has not yet) been achieved. 

From the mid-1950s the Federalist movement became somewhat split between those who saw European integration as an essential precursor to world federation, and those who saw no distinction. This led to the European level of JEF essentially disappearing from the political landscape, but the work of its local, regional and national levels continued nevertheless.

In 1967, young people held mock negotiations in Brussels to work out a treaty of accession for the UK to the Community. In March 1969, they organised a demonstration on the spectators’ benches of the European Parliament, demanding its direct elections by universal suffrage. In many European countries protest demonstrations were organised against the dictatorship in Greece. These activities helped the first groups of young federalists to set up very close collaboration and to tighten their links again. This collaboration took concrete form in the creation of JEF’s liaison office in 1970.  The founding Congress for the “Young European Federalists” was held in Luxembourg on 25 and 26 March 1972. Surprised about why our acronym is JEF and not YEF? Our original name was in French, Jeunes Européens Fédéralistes. 

Even though JEF was still interested in the European Community, new topics became increasingly important for JEF in the 70s: direct election of the European Parliament, East-West reunification and enlargement, disarmament, women, the environment and international development issues. Our Political Platform was the first document to coin the term ‘democratic deficit’, as written by the then President Richard Corbett. 

In 1985, when Jacques Delors became President of the European Commission and launched the idea of the Single Market, institutional questions became important in the discussion in JEF since it seemed that a real European Democracy can be established in a short time and JEF said of itself: Simply a Generation Ahead, which is still the JEF motto nowadays.

In the 90s three basic developments influenced the work and the discussions of JEF: 1) the return of nationalist wars in Europe; 2) the crisis of legitimacy of the European integration process, highlighted by the Danish referendum in 1992, the lost Norwegian referendum in 1994 and the negative attitude of a majority of EU citizens towards the Euro; 3) the open questions on the enlargement of the European Union. It was also a time of challenge for JEF and pro-European Movements as the completion of the Maastricht Treaty gave many citizens the feeling that European integration was somehow ‘complete’, and something to be taken for granted.

In the 2000s, JEF Europe worked a lot on institutional issues calling for a European federal constitution and a more democratic Europe. Another major area of interest for JEF is the defense of human rights and respect for the rule of law especially with our annual Belarus action taking place since 2006. In the 2010s this became a broader campaign, ‘Democracy under Pressure’, to face up to increasing challenges to democracy and rule of law across many European countries.

The period of 2010 onwards has seen Europe through successive threats to the integration process. The Eurocrisis has exposed the need for the fiscal union that JEF calls for. In-flows of refugees from the ‘Neighbourhood’ and the response to this in individual nations has necessitated a common European approach to the external borders, and a need to do more to protect the free movement we Europeans thought could be taken for granted. JEF responded to this with the ‘Don’t Touch my Schengen’ campaign. 

The year 2016 witnessed the first instance of a member state voting to leave the European Union with the ‘Brexit referendum’, which showed all Europeans in stark terms that integration was a reversible process. In some senses it has served as a wake-up call, and JEF co-organised the March for Europe on the anniversary of the Rome Treaty March 2017 in Rome and joined over 1 million other pro-Europeans in March 2019 to protest against Brexit at its Federal Committee in London – the biggest pro-European demonstration, ever. 

And as our organisation enters the 2020s, the coronavirus quickly and ruthlessly laid bare a continued lack of solidarity across European nations. JEF’s answer to these problems remains the same as it always has: a Federal Europe. Though as this is still the history of our times, it remains to be seen if we will finally bring about a federation, or if the forces of disintegration will succeed..

People

Federal Commitee

Executive Board

Arbitration Board and Auditors Committee

European Secretariat

Partners


No Hate Speech Movement

The No Hate Speech Movement is a youth campaign led by the Council of Europe Youth Department seeking to mobilise young people to combat hate speech and promote human rights online. Launched in 2013, it was rolled out at the national and local levels through national campaigns in 45 countries. The movement will remain active beyond 2017 through the work of various national campaignsonline activists and partners.

International Association for Political Science Students

The International Association for Political Science Students (IAPSS) is a platform for political science students and students interested in political science issues. The association is international, politically independent, non-profit and student-run, and aims to have global impact in the political science sphere. IAPSS seeks to strengthen the academic profile and skills of all members by offering various opportunities for development.

World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy

Founded in 1947, the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to the realization of global peace and justice through the development of democratic institutions and the application of international law.

Union of European Federalists

The Union of European Federalists (UEF) is a pan-European, non-governmental political organisation dedicated to the promotion of European political unity. It was founded shortly after World War II, in the belief that only by uniting into a European Federation could the states of Europe overcome the divisions of the past and ensure a future of peace and economic prosperity. Throughout the past 70 years we have been a leading voice in the promotion of European unity and an early campaigner for key milestones in the development of the European Communities and then the European Union.

European Youth Forum

The European Youth Forum is the platform of youth organisations in Europe. We represent over 100 youth organisations, which bring together tens of millions of young people from all over Europe.

Political Platform


Federalists understand that the complex international challenges of tomorrow cannot be tackled by the simplistic national means of today. Federalists are bridge-builders who want to close the gaps in democracy, transparency and efficiency in the current European constellation and equip it with the necessary institutions and policies to prepare for the future.

At the same time, they are bridge-builders between the Citizens and the European decisionmakers by striving to reconnect them. In their effort to bring Europe closer to the Citizens and by acting on their deep-rooted philosophy and principles, Federalists should thus insist on various institutional improvements and concentrate on policies precisely because this approach will arouse Citizens’ interest.

This is why Federalists, first and foremost JEF members, have to actively reach out to the Citizens via presentations in schools, debates in universities, international seminars, public events, street actions, pan-European campaigns, on-line articles and various local, regional, national and European media, aiming to reverse European and political apathy and fight nationalism.

Through their commitment to a supranational European destiny, Federalists thus breathe life into the concept of European Citizenship and add to the strengthening of the European consciousness and even the development of the European identity. In doing their job, they eventually contribute to the emergence of – paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln’s words – a European government of the people, by the people and for the people!