This Sunday the presidents of the European Parliament, the Commission and the European Council will sign the Berlin Declaration to mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. The text sums up Europe’s biggest achievements but also the necessity to push forward with the Constitutional project before the European elections in 2009.
Young activists across Europe have used the occasion to voice their concerns of urgency with the 5to12 action (s. www.5to12.eu). By putting up a huge banner on Berlin’s famous Siegessäule JEF demands to move ahead with an ambitious Constitutional project and to hold a European referendum on the revised text in 2009.
JEF-Europe president Jan Seifert, present in Berlin, commented on the Berlin Declaration and celebrations:
“A look at the contents and evolution of the Berlin Declaration offers a sad illustration of today’s intergovernmental Europe. Important documents like the Berlin Declaration are still hammered out by diplomats (“Sherpas”) behind closed doors and all elected politicians can do in the end is to rubber-stamp a done deal. What really concerns members from organisations like JEF is the incomprehensible absence of a reference to the citizens’ movements that have continuously dared to stand up for Europe and involve other citizens in the discussions on its future. – Making Europe a project “by” the people is a corner-stone for its future democratic development – or indeed the lack of it. Activists from JEF, UEF and the European Movements have often been the key protagonists of European issues and some of them, like Altiero Spinelli, have left their mark in the EU’s history.” remarked JEF president Jan Seifert.
“Independent of the shortcomings of the Berlin Declaration, it is JEF’s priority to have Europe move forward with an ambitious Constitutional project. The best way to ensure a success is to refer back to the citizens and directly involve them through a European referendum in 2009. Our campaign www.europeanreferendum.eu will strive to gather support for this in the months to come.” remarked Seifert.
“The development of the European Union is Europe’s greatest achievement in the 20th century. Now is the right time and valid reason to celebrate Europe’s successes with such grand activities. But it is also necessary to combine the festivities with a look towards the future. – Europe’s main challenge remains: to tackle its democratic deficit and involve citizens directly in its further construction. This is why JEF has joined the campaign for a European referendum on the Constitution.” the JEF president concluded.