Interview with Simon Devos

Candidate for JEF Treasurer

, by Radu Dumitrescu

Interview with Simon Devos

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?

I think we are the ones to point out that the European project is not about bureaucracy but about our common future – and above all – about peace. I obviously support the idea of the EU being as close as possible to the citizen but I also think we should stay realistic and be more precise ourselves: how do you want to define ‘close to the citizen’? Is it realistic that I have as much contact with one of the 30 000 COM servants or one of the 751 MEPs responsible for the entire EU in comparison to the 50 civil servants or 25 local representatives in my local town with just 10 000 inhabitants?

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?

On the short term, the EU should do more within the field of defence and digitalisation, social and fiscal policy. In defence I think we can be so much more efficient if we share and pool resources on a broader scale – I hope I am not the only one who thinks it is necessary to have at least one army band per EU country? I think you cannot install a proper European social policy without developing a more unified fiscal policy on the EU level. In both fields I think there is a window of opportunity to move things forward with the election of President Macron once a new German coalition has been installed.

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

Subsidiarity is key. And clear distribution of tasks. But above all: dialogue. Everybody thinks Belgium is a weird country which has installed a system so complex to ever function, but in the end Belgian politicians have kept speaking with each other (even after more than 500 days of fruitless negotiations) and did find solutions. Were these perfect? No - tasks are distributed in a very complex way. But does Belgium work for the Belgians? I would say yes!

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 we should continue to do both. Without the network, we’ll never be taken seriously to push for our federalist agenda. Without the federalist agenda, we’ll weaken the network.

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 think federalism is (a big part of) the solution. Speaking about Catalonia, if the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia as laid out in 2006 would have been implemented, I don’t think the current crisis would have appeared. I’m not convinced a ‘Europe of Regions’ would make decision-making on the EU level easier. I think risks are that we won’t be able to move forward at all anymore.

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?

I hope we Europeans will make a bold statement against nationalism, racism and separation during the upcoming European elections. I hope that, once a new German government has been installed, big steps can be put forward in becoming more united on the European level.

If the Congress gives me the chance to stay on board as Treasurer, I will do all I can to further increase our funding so that we can continue to initiate new initiatives and gain members. At the same time I will do my very best - both on a tresorial and personal level - to make JEF-Europe more inclusive. Rich or poor, northern, eastern, southern, western, male or female: we’re all Europeans, we all fight the federalist battle, we’re all JEFers.

You can read more about Simon Devos here.

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