To the next 50 years of JEF: from democracy under attack to a free democratic federation!

, by Christelle Savall

To the next 50 years of JEF: from democracy under attack to a free democratic federation!
Credits: JEF-Europe.

TNF supports JEF-Europe’s campaign #DemocracyUnderPressure that this year will take place from the 18th to the 25th of March.

25 March is the very essence of what JEF is. The unofficial Freedom day in Belarus, celebrated every year by the democratic opposition, marks the last day of our Democracy under Pressure campaign as well as our 50th anniversary. We spend it advocating for the core values we stand for: peace and democracy.

A day for hope

JEF has been raising awareness of the state of democracy, and standing up and speaking up for those who are silenced, since 2006. This campaign started as the “Free Belarus” action to raise awareness about the Lukashenka regime, often considered “the last dictatorship in Europe”. Concluding our yearly campaign on 25 March is therefore symbolic of our longstanding stance for Free Belarus, sadly still as relevant today as when we started.

Freedom day commemorates the independence of Belarus and is a celebration for those standing with Belarus. It also represents hope: hope for Free Belarus, hope for restored peace in a Ukraine with a clear path to EU accession, and finally, hope to see the European Union becoming the beacon and the champion of human rights, democracy, and peace it ought to be, both internally and externally.

A 17th edition to be proud of!

In the last decade, European values have been increasingly infringed upon by illiberalism, nationalism, populism, and xenophobia across governments and societies in Europe. As we believe an attack on the rule of law in one country is an attack on our own, the Free Belarus action was rebranded in 2014 as the campaign that we are promoting today.

In this particular year where democracy is no longer just under pressure but under attack, JEFers across Europe answered the call and stood up for democracy, for Free Belarus, for Ukraine! During our action week from 18th to the 25th March, our sections showed solidarity with freedom and democracy activists, amplified their voices, raised awareness about the democratic struggles around Europe and advocated for democracy and rule of law.

We gagged statues and organised street actions all over Europe in Albania, Bulgaria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and many others. We raised awareness on democracy and the situation in some countries through online and in person events, videos and social media campaigns. We organised citizen dialogues in person or online such as with Euractiv. We worked with our partners the Council of European Municipalities and Regions and Platforma, while our sections collaborated with each other and other associations, youth political parties and universities. We published articles and press releases and sent handwritten letters to Belarusian political prisoners.

We stood up for Ukraine both symbolically and in practice, gathering signatures for our EU-kraine petition and co-organizing the youth fast response for Ukraine together with national youth councils in Europe and pan-European youth associations to coordinate youth support to Ukraine.

One wish for our birthday: a free, peaceful and democratic Europe!

JEF Europe was refunded 50 years ago to the day, and when we blow out our candles, our wish will remain the same: a democratic European Federation as a prerequisite for peace. While we are celebrating our 50th birthday all year, spending our birthday standing up for a better future, to make our wish come true, shows the true soul of our association. And as in all good birthday speeches, we need to take a moment to celebrate and congratulate our volunteers all across Europe for their tireless work on this campaign, showing solidarity to one another, getting inspired by activists and inspiring others to join.

This year’s action week of Democracy under Pressure is coming to an end but our commitment to Ukraine, to Belarus, to democracy, peace, and rule of law is not. Until the next action week and for as long as needed, JEF will speak up for those who are silenced. We JEFers will choose the rule of law, we will choose democracy, and we will choose Europe!

Your comments

  • On 29 March at 14:23, by Iwantout Replying to: To the next 50 years of JEF: from democracy under attack to a free democratic federation!

    I absolutely share your commitment to democracy. But I also enjoy the joke, ‘if the EU was a country, it would fail the democracy test if it applied to join.’ Reverse proportionality voting system in EP elections leading to the power of a Maltese voter being worth ten times that of a voter in Germany. EP is the only ‘democratic parliament’ in the World that cannot initiate, amend or revoke legislation. D’Hondt system used to fairly allocate positions in EP committees routinely suspended when voting results require Eurosceptic MEPs be provided with such positions. No minutes kept in Council meetings, no record of voting and no public attendance so no person can ever be held to account. Only 27 people out of a population of 447m can initiate legislation. (The Commissioners.) Commissioners themselves not appointed by their national government but only nominated. EP (which has been demonstrated above is far from democratic) is body that appoints. No minutes kept of trilogue discussions and similarly no right for public attendance. Active EU Commission intervention in national elections (together with on occasion funding) to support pro EU parties, e.g. Greek elections 2014. So, it goes on. The EU is truly a post democratic organisation, a position which JEF itself discussed and accepted on this site several years ago. Best evidence of all though? Pro EU sites such as this one frequently refuse to publish any public response which might be viewed as critical of the EU.

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