Hello everyone, my name is Leonie. I’m 25 years old, hailing from the border region of the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium and now living in Brussels. After having obtained a Master’s degree in European Public Policy in Maastricht, I have recently completed a Master’s in International and European Law. In my free time I enjoy traveling, cooking, discussing politics, and many other things.
For almost five years I have been active in JEF on different levels: as a part of great teams I have co-founded JEF Maastricht and JEF Netherlands. One of the milestones was achieved two years ago when JEF Netherlands again became a full member section of JEF Europe. On the regional level, I’m part of the coordination team of the JEF Cross-Border Network, in which five sections organise projects and actions together. Alongside being active in JEF Brussels, I am the co-chair of the Political Commission on Internal European Policies (PC2) within the Federal Committee 2013-15. Working with PC2 chair Angelika gave me an even better understanding of the JEF policies as well as its networks and has inspired ideas on how to activate more members for political work on the European level. Since this year, I am the JEF representative in the employment related political committees and networks of the European Movement International and the European Youth Forum.
Motivation for the position
With all the experience I gained in JEF, I would now like to contribute to the next board. This upcoming period will be crucial for Europe: different political issues such as Brexit, Grexit, the current Hungarian political system, an incoherent approach to EU asylum policy resulting in a wider exposed migration crisis this summer, the lack of an EU financial policy are begging for our attention. It is important not to forget that this is the first time that the EU has a directly elected President of the European Commission whose work could use a young federalist commentary. I want to contribute to making JEF Europe a stronger organisation with increased internal awareness and external visibility of its policy stances.
I would love to work with the upcoming board as one of the two Vice-Presidents. During the past years, I have gained experience within JEF, especially on the European level. My sound understanding of how JEF is structured, of how the relations between national, local and EU level work, of the JEF policies, and of the networks JEF is active in will be beneficial to the position. Furthermore, my pro-active character and my leadership and organisational skills will be of help in the work to support the newly elected President.
My Vision of the Future of JEF
Thinking a generation ahead, I want to work with the other board members to make JEF Europe ready for the next European Parliamentary elections in 2019 and a possible European Convention. JEF Europe, in my opinion, can tap its full potential by offering federalist solutions in these times of turmoil, standing firmly for the idea of a federal Europe, created in a democratic way by and for citizens. Thanks to the current Board JEF Europe operates rather well. However, if we all work together in the upcoming two years, JEF can reach the next level and become a stronger voice in policy-making. I want to elaborate on three key ideas to achieve the next level.
First, I want JEF Europe to gain greater external visibility. We represent young pro-Europeans and federalists. Every half year we adopt new resolutions, providing the organisation with a good basis to work on. These resolutions need to be better put into practice and if done so, the outcomes of these resolutions need to be communicated to the members more clearly. Alongside the political ideology we represent, our added value lies in the fact that our member organisations do not only come from the EU but also from other European countries, and thus are truly pan-European. Hence, our advocacy efforts should scream JEF. However, in several fields it is wiser to become stronger in the network we are members of and work together with our partners to reach certain policy goals. In order to do so, I would like the upcoming EB and FC to continue and extend the concept of ambassadors to other fields. PC2’s work was successfully supported by the ambassador for structured dialogue. Furthermore, I would like the EB to work on what has been created so far in this field, such as the DemAlert app.
Second, the awareness of the European level within our organisation should be raised too. Our local members who organise events on the ground are not always aware of our policy stances we agree upon together. JEF will only become stronger if we realise the added value and importance of each level in our organisation. Therefore, we can tackle this issue by first, including more local members in the discussions on the European level to increase our bottom-up approach, and second, by investing in capacity building on the European level. The policies we will tackle in 2015-17 should always be related to JEF concerns. Nevertheless, we need to be aware that new policies bring new challenges to our internal organisation, too. Together with the new EB, I would like to commit to finding a solution to where JEFers can hold debates online. Additionally, as JEF Europe is not only our umbrella association but also a very strong network, I would like to work towards strengthening the connections and communication between international officers.
The last issue I want us to work on concerns both external visibility and internal awareness. The way we organise our common actions can be improved. They benefit both from the European level (adding one more contribution) and the local level (creating ownership and creating awareness that they are part of a Europe-wide network). We need to address how we can reach the local sections better with the help of the national level and how we can encourage sections participating in the action. I believe that unity in diversity also appeals here – local sections each have their own ideas, networks, possibilities and restrictions. We need to offer a sound framework in which actions can take place and need to communicate the actions better beforehand with a concrete timeline. Furthermore, I would like the next board to agree on a transparent system on how to deal with spontaneous actions. The proposed guideline has the aim to prepare all the different levels of JEF to react to events in politics with a higher impact.
My Opinion on the needed Political Commissions and Taskforces/Working Groups The success of the political commissions, taskforces and working groups depends on the continuous active participation of you, the directly elected FC members and the national sections. Nonetheless, the coordinating role of the EB remains crucial. Having been active on the European level for more than three years, I think the division of topics amongst the political commissions is workable. I want the next board and FC to promote its work amongst local sections to include more members and increase awareness of the European level throughout the organisation. Regarding taskforces, I am convinced that the taskforce on small and growing sections should be kept in place to further encourage the exchange of best practices and support the newer member organisations. Furthermore, as explained earlier, I’d like the upcoming EB to extend the concept of ambassadors of the political commissions. We can recruit ambassadors, who work together in a taskforce, similar to the one currently put in place on networks.