Which Future after the Reform Treaty?

Strategies for JEF

, by Florent Banfi

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Which Future after the Reform Treaty?

The European Council has decided to transform the Constitution into a simple treaty in order to avoid referenda and allow its content to enter into force as soon as possible. The democratic direction started by the European Convention has been buried and a less transparent solution, the intergovernmental conference (IGC) is proposed instead.

We have to admit that our goal of having a European referendum in 2009 on the Constitution won’t be achieved. Although this proposal was aimed at strengthening the continuation of the ratifications after the French and Dutch no, the absence of a Constitution implies the need of a strong change in the campaign.

What should we learn from the campaign?

A lot could be said about the campaign and why it didn’t work. Nevertheless, I would like to stress on two specific elements that should be considered in light of the future strategy for JEF. The first one is the time issue. The previous campaigns implemented by the federalists lasted longer, with the campaigns being launched in a small number of sections to be followed progressively by the rest. Time was thus an asset because it allowed people to be convinced and to enter into the campaign when they were ready to do so. The longer the campaign lasted, the bigger the support of the sections was. With the referendum campaign, a short deadline was set and we had to race against time in order to reach the number of signatures required because the more we waited, the more difficult it would have been to achieve our goals.

The second problem was the lack of capability in the fields necessary to realise the campaign. Being an internet campaign, it was based on a strong communication strategy through the use of internet tools. The real means needed to realise a proper internet campaign were underestimated. The actions realised were too similar to the “paper” petition campaigns. Nevertheless, we have to recognize that the website was created in a very professional way if we consider the 13 different translations!

Thus this campaign showed that the decisions concerning strategy should not be decided at the European level and implemented at the national or local level. If the persons implementing the campaign had been involved since the beginning, the means would have been identified before and the campaign would have been defined according to their real capabilities. The final strategy would have been less ambitious but much more efficient.

What should we do now?

Although we have an idea of what will be introduced in the treaty, we have to consider that some important changes can occur. Therefore, until we do not have a final text, we are missing an important element to set up a new strategy for JEF.

Nevertheless, it seems difficult to campaign for this treaty due to the gap between the text proposed by the last ICG and the text of the convention. The method has to be denounced but the improvements (if we still have some at the end) have also to be recognized.

The option of killing the current campaign to start a new process in a rush is not a good solution mainly because we haven’t digested the mistakes of the previous campaign and also because the political situation is unclear until we have the final treaty.

We should wait for the clarification of the political context and then decide which political objective to achieve. Once the goal is clear, we need to define the way of achieving it. This step should involve as many sections as possible. The content of the strategy should be defined in light of the diversity and commitment of the sections. This new strategy should be built with and not only for the sections.

European elections in 2009

The next important step for us will be the European elections of June 2009. We should try to be open to other organisations and define a strategy that can gather instead of isolate.

The European elections are a unique period wherein we can debate easily on European issues (policies and institutional) inside and outside the European Union. They are also an opportunity to take new initiatives, to show our ideas and our proposals to the public. Our strategy should consider the diversity of the sections and instead of considering it as a problem, it should be considered as a basis on which to work. In such way, we will unify the organisation and define ourselves as the generation that will celebrate the 100th birthday of the European Union... Together in 2057.

Authors note: This article was written before the results of the IGC which will draft a new treaty. Thus I wrote only considerations that could be useful at the end of October when the article will be published. (Florent Banfi)

Image: Reform Treaty (cartoon original by Marc S) taken from Google Images

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