Young Europeans in action

| Tim Bussmann

They were already active since September, but last week their existence became official. Young European Federalists Enschede is officially recognized by the Student Union. On the 25th of April they will celebrate this in the form of a guest lecture.

Young European Federalists (Jonge Europese Federalisten or in short JEF) Enschede is a non-partisan and pro-European youth organization, that wants to accompany and shape the development of the EU und Europe itself. Previously, subsidiaries in Amsterdam, Tilburg and Utrecht were already established. ‘We have subsidiaries in more than 30 European countries, which mostly reside in university-based cities,’ says Sara Stachelhaus, UT student European Public Administration and chairperson of JEF Enschede. ‘The goal of JEF is the creation of a democratic European federation as a crucial ingredient for peace, a guarantee for a more free, just and democratic society and a first step towards a world federation.’

One Europe to rule them all?

Even though the European Union is integrated within our society, many people do not directly experience its influence, says Stachelhaus. ‘It might not be visible in your average daily life, but the EU is already responsible for more than half of the things happening in politics.’

One common theme among JEF members is the idea of a Federal Europe, which is also the wish of the German politician Martin Schulz. Stachelhaus: ‘We think that it is good to think across borders instead of in your national space, just like it happens here at the international campus of the UT. We call for a federal Europe, as the EU right now is somewhere between being a confederation and a federal state. Even though it already has some characteristics of a federal state, the individual member states remain the main actors and can limit or even refuse the EU’s actions in policy fields, where a European solution would have been beneficial, for instance with the refugee crisis.’

For the German members of JEF, federalism is not particularly new. ‘We encounter some resistance among for example Dutch people, as the Dutch are not really used to living in a federal state. I think that among Germans it is easier to imagine a federal Europe, since we are also used to such a system,’ says Stachelhaus.

Bar meet-ups and discussions

Apart from meet-ups at bars where the Young Europeans frequently share a drink together, there is also more than enough space for serious topics. Stachelhaus: ‘As a local subsidiary of JEF, we organize guest lectures, discussion evenings about recent political events and also meet-ups with other subsidiaries. On Sunday, we will for instance meet up with several subsidiaries at the Dutch-German border in Glanerbrug.’

Stachelhaus is also enthusiastic about the international JEF umbrella organization. ‘They host a lot of seminars and workshops where members have the opportunity to go to Brussels. They talk about topics like how to inform about the EU in school curriculums. A lot of educational institutions miss out on doing this.’

Stay tuned

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.