Press Statement: After 71 years, Schuman’s vision for a federal Europe is still to be fulfilled

Brussels, 09.05.2021

Key points:

  • 71 years after the Schuman’s Declaration, Europe is more united than ever, yet still far from his original vision.
  • The European project remains unfinished, which makes the stability and wellbeing on the continent uncertain.
  • JEF Europe is dedicated to advocating for a democratic European Federation, including through the Conference on the Future of Europe and beyond it.


On 9 May 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman laid conceptual foundations for a united Europe seen by him as an antithesis of war. Stressing the need for creative efforts to safeguard peace, he proposed the establishment of a supranational authority managing coal and steel production as a first step towards a federal Europe. Seventy-one years later, we are much more than a Coal and Steel Community but at the same time still far from a genuine Federation. 

The recent decades have brought a historically unprecedented level of economic, political and cultural integration in Europe including the Single Market with its four freedoms, a common currency, cohesion funds and a directly-elected European Parliament with its powers increased over time. A nascent European public sphere has emerged, transcending a mere sum of domestic debates. Historically, Europeans have never been so close to each other, and our continent sets an example for unification efforts in other parts of the world.

This unity, however, remains limited and dependent on changing political landscapes in the member states that lack the will and determination to continue implementing Schuman’s bold vision. The fiasco of the European Constitutional Treaty in 2005 and the Brexit referendum in 2016 showed that European integration can be both stalled and reversed on a continent that has already forgotten the disasters caused by untamed nationalism in the first half of the 20th century. Insufficiently democratic and united, Europe is unfit to face both internal and external challenges, which means it cannot guarantee the stability and wellbeing that most Europeans have taken for granted for generations. 

Europe Day is an annual opportunity to re-discover the roots of the EU originating in Schuman’s federalist plan. This year, it bears additional importance due to the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe that should create the much-needed momentum for finalising the European integration project responding to citizens’ needs. We will be calling for a federal Europe even louder over the next months, both within and outside of the official Conference framework, especially if the latter doesn’t meet our expectations of being democratic, meaningful and ambitious. 

The arduous negotiations on CoFoE and its rules of procedure have shown that some national governments are determined to further diminish the role of this process. Together with other civil society organisations, we will be mobilising around the Conference to ensure it’s not rendered meaningless or hijacked by nationalists. The importance of CoFoE in the eyes of the European public must grow to make it impossible for the member states to ignore the strength of its call for a better Europe.

Through our political advocacy, we will call for the opening of a new constituent phase while ensuring that the building blocks of a European Federation such as a Fiscal Union, a European Health Union and a stronger European Parliament are part of public debate. Our campaign “Next Chapter Europe” will bring the Conference closer to young people who, as the next generation of Europeans, must shape the future of our continent. As life is gradually coming back to our COVID-stricken continent, we will keep fighting for a united Europe.


About JEF Europe

The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO with 10,000  members active in over 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. 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.


JEF Europe’s federalist proposals as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe  


Contact information

Leonie Martin, President
Young European Federalists
Rue d’Arlon 53, 1040 Brussels