Interview with Céline Geissmann

Candidate for the JEF Executive Board

, by Radu Dumitrescu

Interview with Céline Geissmann

At the Congress taking place in Malta from 10 to 12 November, JEF-Europe will elect its new Executive Board. The New Federalist interviewed all candidates to ask them what they think of the future of Europe and JEF. Do remember that all candidates have also introduced themselves and detailed their motivations on the Meet The Candidates page on the JEF Congress website. Enjoy!

1. The European Union has often been criticized as being distant and bureaucratic. What room is there for young people in the European project?

Let’s face it: In Europe, politics is dominated by the old because they are the demographic majority and therefore wield more power in elections. Additionally, young people do not show up at the polls, which further weakens our position. It is unfortunate because as the Brexit showed us, young people are also the most favorable toward the European project.

That is why youth organisations like JEF are so important – they make youth needs and perspectives visible. We need to show them that they can have a strong and bright future within the EU and make young people voice count. I am in favor of taking a bolder stance towards older generations: they cannot afford to ignore us.

2. What are the areas in which the Union needs to extend its cooperation immediately and what are the areas in which it needs to do so over the longer term?

I think the time has come to start a grand discussion on the future of Europe before it is too late. Europe at the moment is unfit to deliver for citizens – and they realized it. We cannot continue to promote the European project and deeper integration without taking into account the aspirations of the EU citizens. For that, we need to listen to them. I believe that the Citizen Conventions called for by Emmanuel Macron are a window of opportunity for the political parties and the civil society to give the floor to citizens and listen to their expectations and fears about the EU.

Of course, at a second stage and with a longer-term perspective, we need to push Europe to give it the means to deliver for its citizens. I think there are three crucial fields where the EU citizens expect more from the EU:

-  Social Europe – The European Union should be able to protect its citizens and avoid social dumping across member states (European unemployment assurance, European pension system…)

-  Internal and external security – The EU is the only relevant level to defend the citizens inside and outside of the EU borders (increase Frontex means, European intelligence agency, European Asylum System …)

-  Stabilize the economic integration – The crisis of 2008 has shown us that the European economic integration is far from perfect. A lot of work should be carried out to overcome economic instability and assure growth and employment for EU citizens (European Monetary Fund, reform of the own resources of the EU budget, EU Minister of Economy and Finance, complete the Banking Union…)

3. What is the most radically federalist position you take, in comparison with most pro-Europeans?

Being federalist is not about having a strong position on one topic but rather having a federalist holistic approach about how the EU should be. I firmly believe a federal EU is the best mode of government to overcome the challenges of the 21st century and secure a strong presence on the international stage. In the same vain, I think nation-states are unfit for the tasks at hand. One of my radical positions, therefore, is to abolish national foreign ministers and have a European seat at the Security Council of the United Nations.

4. Should JEF become more politically involved, actively pushing for a federalist agenda during the next European elections in 2019, or should it move toward a more social role in establishing networks of likeminded Europeans across the Member States?

I think having JEF more politically involved for a federalist agenda does not preclude from establishing networks across member states. JEF has several tools on the European stage, and it would be a pity not to use them all. On the one hand, we have to push for federal topics such as increasing the EU budget – among others - by asking direct questions to parties and candidates. On the other hand, JEF has the chance to unite almost the entire political spectrum, because we are non-partisan. This, I believe, is one of our most significant assets. We need to capitalize on this value by bringing together different political parties and actors of the civil society to work all together for a better Europe.

5. What answer can the EU, and by extension JEF, give to the many movements for independence that we can see springing up, the most obvious example being Catalonia? Most of these movements definitely want to continue being part of the EU.

I don’t believe in nationalism, and neither do I believe in micro-nationalism. I am not against the idea of a Europe of regions but we should discuss this in an orderly fashion. Small territories wildly declaring their independence by themselves will only lead to one outcome: a dis-united Europe in a tumultuous world.

6. It can be said that young people have the most to gain or lose during every election, as their lives will be impacted for the longest period of time by any choice. How will Europe and JEF look in two years?

To be honest, I do not believe in prediction and, therefore, I have no idea how Europe will look in two years. Who would have predicted the Brexit four years ago? During the next two years, everything can happen, and nothing can happen. Of course, JEF Europe won’t decide on the future of Europe, but we can do our bit to help Europe to go in the right direction with a pan-European campaign, lobbying, and education.

Now, regarding the future of JEF Europe, it’s clear that we will have to face challenges. JEF is an old organisation, and like every old organisation we need to be able to reinvent ourselves. We need to be open to rethink our internal functioning as well as our tools to achieve our goals. The world evolves, and we need to evolve with it. If we manage to do so, I am pretty confident about the future of JEF in two years: we are a well-established organisation on the European stage with motivated members all around Europe and an enabling environment with the upcoming European elections.

You can read more about Céline Geissmann here.

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