By Chris Powers, YEM Cambridge
In November 2016, JEF Europe held its Federal Committee in Cologne. Federal Committee meetings occur every 6 months and are the main statutory meeting of JEF Europe. There we hear about the work of the Executive Board (EB), discuss, debate, and vote on policy motions for the organisation to adopt and work together on ways we can strengthen the organisation across borders. It goes without saying these events are usually very positive and fun, and people often come back feeling energised!
Representatives from JEF sections across Europe gathered at the FC.
After a whole year of not having attended JEF Europe events, I am pleased to report that the FC in Köln was a reminder of what I have been missing out on. In total, there were four people attending representing JEF UK. Alongside Laura Krawczyk and Liam McDonald, as International Officer and President respectively, there was also Juuso Järviniemi from the Edinburgh branch, and myself as the Co-Chair of one of JEF Europe’s Task Forces. Because of the timing, Brexit was a popular topic of conversation, along with the US elections, which had yet to turn out the way they did.
Köln marked the first time that JEF and UEF had co-hosted such a meeting and it met with mixed results. Personally, I exploded in frustration with a deeply uninspiring panel of old people pontificating on Brexit, and hand-wringing about their sense of impotence at what is unfolding. The only thing certain from my rage was that it woke the room up, and it wasn’t only the old people that were asleep!
Despite the lack of inspiration from the UEF side of things, I do have to add that I felt greatly optimistic about the future of the other half of the organisation. The former JEF Europe President, Pauline Gessant, has ‘crossed-over’ but has lost none of her ability to create warmth, hope and inspiration for all those around her, young or old!
On the business side of things, the FC delivered plenty. We debated and passed a series of resolutions on EU relations with Russia and Turkey, Brexit, and Interrail, to name a few examples. With the Brexit resolution, it was really positive to see the united front our friends all across Europe showed to morally supporting the British section in any way they can. With the Interrail resolution, which I have to admit I voted against (I felt it could have been improved), JEF Europe has already met success as they were invited to a breakfast discussion with the EPP almost immediately after the office got back to Brussels, to see how we can go about funding and supporting such initiatives.
— JEF Europe (@JEF_Europe) 15 novembre 2016
In between drinking at Beer Halls, trying out the Cornish pasties in an English café we also had the chance to discuss politics with the heads of each of the youth wings of the European Political Parties, discuss the future of JEF’s Task Forces, look at and support JEF’s medium and long term plans, and vote on the location of the Autumn Congress. Three sections filed superb bids, JEF Essen, JEF Macedonia, and JEF Malta, with the latter winning the bid! I for one am looking forward to catching up with Kayrin and Manuel of the Maltese section and watching JEFers grapple with another EU member state which drives on the left and uses such chunky plugs – congratulations guys!
In the next few months, there will be plenty to look forward to. JEF Europe is organising a series of international seminars across Europe for 2017, one of which (subject to funding being approved) is going to take place in Scotland this February. I will be organising a seminar on ‘The F Word’ to take place in Cambridge in June 2017, and in spring there will be a large JEF FC meeting in Rome, along with a large street action, to commemorate 60 years since the signing of the Treaty of Rome, a document we all hold close to our hearts.
In the meantime, there is plenty YOU can be doing to get involved with JEF. Discussions are starting now about which policies JEF should think about over the next six months on the Facebook groups (PC1, PC2, PC3) and on the JEF Forum, which has now been officially launched. These discussions are open to any YEM member, so do get involved! My Task Force which works to help branches grow, has been given a new lease of life and has a lot of exciting plans, you can contact me if you want to know more or get involved. The New Federalist, JEF’s news platform, has a new Editor in the form of YEM’s own Tom Grandjouan and he is actively looking for people to write for that. There is so much more going on besides, so do keep your ears close to the ground!
Finally, I would just like to send my e-thanks to the organisational team in Cologne who pulled off a solid and successful meeting and all those JEFers who gave me a new burst of energy to keep fighting the pro-European cause. I’d also like to encourage all of you who made it to the end of this article to embrace all that Europe has to offer. Learn languages, no matter how bad you think you are, travel, fall in love, eat bizarre food. We may have the misfortune of inhabiting a damp island, but we do not have to lead damp and insular lives. Engage!
If you have any questions about JEF Europe or how you can get involved, you can get in touch with Laura Krawczyk on firstname.lastname@example.org, or alternatively, you can reach Chris at email@example.com.
The author, Chris Powers is a former National Board member and an active member of YEM Cambridge.