JEF-France outs 40 square-metre EU flag at Eiffel Tower in election campaign launch

, by Juuso Järviniemi, Lorène Weber

JEF-France outs 40 square-metre EU flag at Eiffel Tower in election campaign launch
Photo: Guillaume Bullier

On Sunday 17 March, dozens of volunteers of the French JEF section, Les Jeunes Européens, gathered at Place du Trocadéro, known for its scenic view of the Eiffel Tower, to launch the #MonVoteMonEurope (My vote, my Europe) European election campaign. In windy yet sunny weather, volunteers waved an EU flag of 40 square metres, chanting slogans and giving speeches.

In addition to catchy slogans such as “European Federation right now!”, “Une seule solution, c’est la fédération!” or “Federazione europea subito!” (multilingualism is not uncommon at JEF demonstrations), some volunteers delivered short speeches about why voting in May is particularly crucial, and about what Europe and being European meant for them.

The French section’s campaign launch came one day after the launch of the European-wide “I Choose Europe” campaign in Paris. Like the European-wide campaign, the French-specific campaign underlines that in May, voters make a choice between markedly different visions of Europe.

To illustrate the point, JEF-France activists pointed attention to misogynist, racist or otherwise offensive statements of politicians sitting in the European Parliament or standing for election this May. They also carried banners with the message, ‘This 26 May, don’t let others choose your MEP’, in front of the huge EU flag.

After the demonstration, the volunteers approached Parisians and tourists wandering at Trocadéro to hand them out flyers and exchange with them about the elections and the campaign. The event was also covered on social media under the hashtags #MonVoteMonEurope and #IChooseEurope.

Tackling abstention by pointing out common issues and a shared European future

Indeed, the spirit of the campaign is to tackle abstention by pointing out the important decisions that have been and will be taken at the European level, the fact that all European citizens are concerned by them, and so that each and every European citizen should be represented and vote for the candidates who best represent their views (and be aware of the ones threatening European values).

Beyond calling on people to “go to vote on 26th May”, both JEF-Europe and JEF-France have also been highlighting the challenges and policies which should be addressed at the EU level, for people to understand why they should go to the polls.

Earlier this year, JEF-France released their “20 priorities for the 2019 European elections”. In this ‘manifesto’, JEF France provides in-depth diagnosis and expresses detailed proposals on how to improve European governance, increase the democratisation and transparency of the EU decision-making process, address urgent issues at the EU level (such as defence, migration or climate issues), and to get the EU closer to its citizens.

With the “I Choose Europe” campaign, JEF-Europe has been stressing the need for citizens to make their voice heard throughout the decision-making process. Part of this process is for citizens to directly elect their representatives at the European Parliament, though an informed vote. JEF-Europe’s President Christopher Glück and Secretary-General Milosh Ristovski have particularly insisted on the fact that European citizens, whatever their national country is, should be aware that they “share a common European future”, and that “no country is truly sovereign without Europe”.

JEF-Strasbourg’s Captain Europe: “All of us are Captain Europe”

In addition to JEF-France activists and national board members, the event was attended by JEF-Europe President Christopher Glück and other representatives, coming from different countries. Among other invited guests was JEF-Strasbourg’s Captain Europe. We interviewed the figure at the sidelines of the event.

TNF: Do you feel that the demand for Captain Europe is increasing with the elections coming up?

Captain Europe: Of course. Captain Europe is only a symbol. The strength of Captain Europe is that as soon as you wear the stickers [and superhero garments], as soon as you talk with people, you become Captain Europe. The purpose is to let the tree of Captain Europe grow across France and Europe.

TNF: Indeed, the individuals behind the Captain Europe figure have changed over time. How does one become Captain Europe?

Captain Europe: I believe that deep in our hearts, all of us are Captain Europe. One just needs to wear the outfit and to go save the EU.

TNF: What is the most interesting event you have ever attended as Captain Europe?

Captain Europe: I would say every event where you get involved with citizens. A good event is not an assembly [at a] parliament. As soon as you’re talking with someone on the street, with someone who didn’t know that 26 May is the European elections, it’s a big event for Captain Europe.

TNF: What are your three main hopes and wishes for the elections?

Captain Europe: That Europe would be democratic, federal, and bring hope to all citizens of the EU.

TNF: Will you be marching for a People’s Vote in London on 23 March?

Captain Europe: I would go for sure but I’m not sure if Captain Europe is still welcome in the UK.

TNF: The EU Supergirl lives in the UK.

Captain Europe: She does? I might visit her! [1]

The New Federalist is the web magazine of The Young European Federalists (JEF), a non-partisan youth NGO with over 13,000 members active in more than 35 countries. Founded in 1972, the organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy, subsidiarity and rule of law. JEF promotes true European citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. JEF is a transpartisan organisation and is not a political party: it is not running in the European elections but campaigns to make European citizens aware of the elections and their stakes.

Footnotes

[1JEF-Europe will host its Federal Committee meeting in London between the 22nd and the 24th of March. The same weekend, a large-scale demonstration for a People’s Vote will take place in London. The New Federalist will offer coverage from both events.

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