Join for the opening of the new European Parliament
The European Union has been “at a critical junction” time and again since its inception. Calls for a renewed commitment to the European project have taken almost a life of their own. Back in 2014, after the Parliament had managed to elect him at the helm of the European Commission by establishing no less than a constitutional precedent, President Juncker declared his would be “the Commission of the last chance”: if it did not deliver, citizens would lose their trust in the EU. After the dismal outcome of the Brexit referendum, EU leaders convened in Bratislava to agree on a supposedly ambitious roadmap “to make a success of the EU with 27 Member States”. Three years on – Leaders’ summit after Leaders’ summit – Brexit still hasn’t happened (thankfully!) and resources, time and energy have been wasted on European Heads of State and Government unable to unite around anything more than generic commitments to the EU.
That there would even be a need to reaffirm European unity is proof that the time of national leaders is far gone. We need European solutions urgently, not least to stop more far-right and illiberal forces from rising to power. The alarms bells have been ringing for years now, but these leaders are too comfortable sitting in their own echo chamber to hear them.
EU national leaders have failed us. European integration by intergovernmental cooperation has the EU stuck in a status quo that could well be its downfall. But the history of the European Union is not only one of disappointing meetings of European leaders. The history of Europe is also one of citizens gathering, demonstrating and protesting; citizens calling on elected leaders for more decisive steps towards the political unity of the European people.
The history of the European Union is one of citizens gathering and calling on elected leaders for more decisive steps towards political unity for the European people: in 1975 in Rome claiming for the direct elections of the European Parliament; in 1979 in Strasbourg asking for a European currency; in 1985 in Milano defending The Spinelli Treaty, in 1991 in Maastricht for European democracy, in 2000 in Nice asking for a European Convention, on 25 March 2017 in Rome calling for a relaunch of political integration.
Today, simply celebrating the EU and its achievements is not enough anymore. Our continent is in dire need of common solutions underpinned by genuine European democracy. This July 1-2 in Strasbourg, at the opening plenary session of the European Parliament, we will again call on our elected representatives to choose Europe, wholeheartedly and without reservations. This July, we must take up the challenge of creating a genuine, European democracy - or risk having no democracy at all.
The programme of the Citizens' gathering for the new European Parliament in Strasbourg includes :
Monday 1st of July
14:00 - 18:00: We are Europe - Citizens' Agora: at the European Youth Centre, debates and workshops on civil society expectations from the new European Parliament for European relaunch
19:00 - 21:00: "A new Parliament for new Europe": Meet new MEPs - at the European Parliamentary Association, activists from civil society organisations and Strasbourg citizens discuss with the most federalist-minded of the newly elected MEPs on citizens priorities for the new term of the European Parliament. Followed by a reception.
Tuesday 2nd of July
08:00 - 10:00: Rally in front of the European Parliament: Citizens gathering for the new European Parliament