The 6th European Federalist Convention will take place today at the Press Club, in Brussels. There will be an announcement of a merger with two of the emerging parties in the political sphere of the federal movement, but only time will tell if this will be a good or bad idea.
The convention slogan, Federate the Federalists, is in reference to the introduction of a merger with the European Federalist Party (EFP) and local French speaking Belgian party, Stand Up For Europe. The EFP and Stand Up for Europe have contested local elections as separate parties, but this year the idea will be to unite both parties in preparation for the forthcoming European elections in 2019. Speakers will include European Federalist Party President Pietro De Matteis and Stand Up for Europe President Richard Laub.
Both parties were formed at the latter part of the last decade, but neither has been able to make a significant impact on the political landscape. It is hoped that by combining resources the federalist movement will finally begin to make an impact on the EU political scene. The EFP have attempted to place candidates in a number of member states in past elections and currently they have a a small but efficient collection of working groups throughout the EU. However, as always, funding is a problem, and without it, the politcal side of the federalist movement is floundering.
The offical line
As with all mergers there will most likely be casualties, as there might be too many individuals going for the same jobs. It’s also not yet clear what the actual structure will be once the merger has been formalised. Will both entities continue to exist separately? Some have said yes, others have said maybe. If you go to the Facebook page of Stand Up For Europe, the official line is that “we successfully negotiated with other organisations that we’re intending to merge into one big federalist organization”. They go on to say that they will “merge under the name Stand Up For Europe and [they] are going to promote democracy, peace, and the pan-European idea for a future united Europe all over our beloved continent, in order to, hopefully someday, live in one European nation that unites all of us”.
The new logo of the merger
To be or not to be?
I asked the President of the EFP, Pietro De Matteis, if this was a merger and he said that “yes, basically we’ve been working a lot with Stand Up For Europe since the last elections.The program for Stand Up For Europe and the EFP have really the same values and principles. We have developed in two different but very complimentary ways. The EFP has had more presence in different countries, whereas Stand Up For Europe has operated mainly in the Walloon region in Belgium, but they have developed a very good relationship with the media and stakeholders. So, basically it’s bringing together strengths which are very different and that can possibly bring other movements towards us in the future”. I was curious about the EFP and if it will continue to operate as a separate entity. “Ideally, we would run together under the same banner of Stand Up For Europe in elections. The plan is to converge into an new organisation and as for the EFP, we will keep the name, but after the end of the process we will get one common movement. By bringing together our strengths, we can re-enforce ourselves. We hope to move towards local and city sections rather than nation sections. We want to build communication at a more local level and we want to ensure that people from the different local sections will work together more.”
What’s in a name?
On paper the idea seems to be a good one, but as with all mergers, once the honeymoon period is over, the real day to day issues will arise and it will be an interesting next few years for the federalist movement at a grass-roots level. The movement needs a large and ambitious organisation; whether that is Stand Up For Europe remains to be seen. I tend to side on the idea that if there is to be a call for a federal union of European states, then it will have to be led by a more public figure and I don’t really see that figure in the movement at the moment. I’m also not sure about the name. Stand Up for Europe doesn’t say anything to me about federalism. It’s too general in my opinion. I’m guessing that this is going to be a long process. But that could be a good thing for the likes of Stand Up For Europe. They will need time to build up support and stem the rising tide of anti-EU sentiment.
Let’s give them the opportunity to show if they are up for it.
For more information on the convention, visit the event page here