EU Budget Negotiations: JEF Europe Response

Available in français & Nederlands

Brussels, 21 February 2020

“This has been going on for years now. After every European Council summit we get a parade of national leaders maintaining that the EU is leading the global fight against climate change, solving the issue of youth unemployment, whilst taking decisive action to provide for the security of its citizens. Then come the budget negotiations, and where do those promises go?”, asks Leonie Martin, President of the Young European Federalists (JEF Europe).
Martin, who holds a Dutch passport, continues: “No Member State leader is willing to put their money where their mouth is: rather than net-zero emissions, they seem to be headed for net-zero commitments”.

The European Commission proposal for the EU long-term budget amounts to 78 eurocents of contribution for every EU citizen, per day. In return, we citizens enjoy a wide range of benefits from the European Union: investment in youth mobility, research and education; collective action to reverse the climate emergency; a stronger economy; common management of the Schengen area and the EU borders, to name but a few. All sides seem to want more from the the EU, but instead of offering a distinct view about the future of Europe and pursuing genuine negotiations, they waste time with quarrels, delaying an agreement over a contribution that would amount to just a few more cents per day per citizen but would have a big impact on all of us as European citizens, such as in the case of Erasmus+ funding.

“Thanks to this funding through the Erasmus + programme, we organise a range of activities for thousands of young people across the continent: our signature Europe@School programme for European civic education that has been running for two decades; or our ‘European Youth Together: Road to the Future’ project, which trained hundreds of young people on how to promote the participation of citizens in the EU elections in May. We call on the European Council to support tripling Erasmus+ funding and deliver an agreement on the next budget that is more than just 1% GNI, because this is the kind of projects the programme supports, and that young people in Europe need to grow as active citizens”, notes Milosh Ristovski, Secretary General of JEF Europe.

The Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is the long-term ‘rules of the game’ for the yearly EU budget. This is why President Michel’s proposal to weaken the so-called ‘rule of law mechanism’ is so concerning: if we get it wrong now, we are stuck with a bad deal for seven years!
As Young European Federalists, we urge leaders to use this opportunity to at least give some teeth to the Strategic Agenda of the European Council and the Political Guidelines of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Don’t just settle for anything close enough to the status quo!

“There are certainly positive elements to President Michel’s proposal: we very much welcome his ambition on a basket of new own resources to grant the EU more financial autonomy, as well as a focus of Cohesion funding towards transition and less developed regions of Europe and the allocation of ‘fresh money’ to the Just Transition Fund. But we’re still far from what’s needed to finance EU common goods such as climate action and environment protection, defence and security, youth mobility, research and digital innovation. The EU budget could be a powerful tool to chart the way forward for Europe in the next three decades in fields such as Artificial Intelligence and 5G technology. Cuts in the Horizon Europe programme, as they are foreseen by now, would thwart this ambition. But there’s been little strategy, and too much accounting in this discussion”, concludes Ms Martin.


A European Council (EUCO) meeting of Heads of State and Government of all EU Member States is set to begin in Brussels on Thursday, February 20th, to hash out an agreement on the so-called Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027: the long-term EU budget. Their basis for discussion is a compromise proposal by EUCO President Charles Michel. President Michel’s proposes that 1,074% EU GNI (slightly above one trillion euros) be allocated for EU level spending, partly financed by own resources – revenue that accrues directly to the EU budget – and a majority of it still financed by national contributions. The MFF provides a framework for financial programming from 2021 to 2027, ensuring that EU spending is predictable and stays within the agreed limits, by establishing maximum annual amounts (ceilings) which the EU may spend in different categories of expenditure (headings).
The non-partisan youth NGO JEF Europe is convinced that many contemporary challenges can only be tackled at European, if not global level. JEF Europe has long been calling for decisive EU and global action against climate change, as well as for a European Security and Defence Union, for a Social Union, for complementing the Economic and Monetary Union with a Fiscal Union and its own budget for macroeconomic stabilisation, and for a humane asylum and migration policy at European level. These political choices, however, have budgetary consequences.

Find our resolution on “A federal budget for the European youth: Reforming the Multiannual Financial Framework” adopted by the European Congress in November 2017 in Malta. 

More information on JEF

The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO with 13.000 members active in more than 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.

JEF Belgium is the section of Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe in Belgium, counting around 150 members with local sections in Brussels, Liège, Louvain-la-Neuve, Leuven and Ghent.

Contact JEF Europe:

Leonie Martin
President, Young European Federalists

Square de Meeûs 25
1000 Brussels

Contact JEF Belgium:

Anna-Lena Sender
President, Young European Federalists in Belgium


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Belgium and the European Green Deal: a just transition for everyone?! – Reaction to Zuhal Demir

The European Commission unveiled its proposal for a Just Transition Fund on 14 January 2020, in regards to the European Green Deal. Although the details have yet to be agreed on during  negotiations between the Council and the Parliament, the Fund would provide EUR 7.5 billion to offset the perverse economic and social effects of the energy transition upon the highest polluting European regions – most of which also the poorest. For example, this money could be used to train former miners, who would lose their jobs as a result of the closure of coal mines, in renewable energy jobs.

From this financial envelope, Belgium should receive 68 million over the period 2021-2027, most of which would naturally go to the Hainaut region in Wallonia, since it is more carbon-intensive and poorer than the country’s average.

Flemish Climate Minister Zuhal Demir reacted on Wednesday 5 February in the Flemish Parliament to the European Commission’s proposal, stating that the Green Deal was a ‘bad deal’ for Flanders, and that the Fund was ‘unfair’ to Flanders. She added that she did not want Flemish money to be used to pay for the climate policy of Wallonia and Eastern Europe.

The Young European Federalists of Belgium would like to remind the Minister of the principle of solidarity, which is at the very basis of the European project. If for each euro paid to the European Union, each Member State or region would receive the same equivalent euro, the European Union would  have no reason to exist.

We reject the idea that Flanders would be on the losing side of the European Green Deal. In a European Union so connected and integrated, there is no such thing as net contributors and net beneficiaries to the EU budget. All Member States and regions benefit greatly from each other’s development; far more than the amount they contribute to the European budget. Those green investments in Central and Eastern Europe are not one-way flows of money to the East. In a large common market, the money Western European companies generate from investments made in Eastern Europe outweighs the amount of money sent to the East via the EU budget. Increased green investments in Central and Eastern Europe not only provide an opportunity to transition but also benefits for the so-called “net-payers”.

Contact: Nicolas Hubert

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Schuman 2.0 – Citizens write a new Declaration!

Whether you are a Robert Schuman fan or good at math, you might already know that we will celebrate in 2020 the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, which aimed at pooling together the European steel and coal production “as a first step in the federation of Europe.” Because yes, a European federation was the long-term goal of Schuman – and Monnet – and that still drives us European Federalists today!

But what is left of Schuman’s vision today? For JEF and the Union of European Federalists, the EU urgently needs a new impulse and, humbly walking in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers, invites European citizens to write their own Declaration through the project Schuman 2.0.

The project was informally launched on December 14 and 15, as 55 committed Europeans (including of course many JEFers) from 14 different countries volunteered as ambassadors and gathered in Brussels to be trained as facilitators.

Next step, the grassroots events:
If you are interested in the project, follow its outcomes in Lille (in partnership with Eurométropole Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai), Trieste, Tartu, Bilbao, Graz and Hamburg!

While awaiting the first event on 25 January at the Franco-Belgian border, you can already visit the website and – why not – submit your own Declaration. A nice European prize awaits the lucky winner…

From Pauline Laloux, Member of JEF Belgium

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JEF Belgium General Assembly 2020


To the Activity Report 2019

If you are a local activist, an experienced JEFer, or a newbie with fresh ideas…
…we want YOU!

The following posts are to be filled for 2020:
– President – to the description
– Secretary General – to the description
– Treasurer
– International Officer – to the description
– Communication Officer – to the description
– Policy Officer – to the description
[Further positions depending on the competences & interests of candidates. More]

Apart from joining the board, you can also become one of our directly elected members to the JEF Belgium Federal Committee. In this position, you will shape the political direction of the organisation together with the board members.

If you are interested in becoming an active member of the JEF Belgium Board or the JEF Belgium Federal Committee, don’t hesitate to contact us (
We will also hold an information session on 16 January 19h00 in Brussels.

In order to run for a position, you need to fill in this FORM before Saturday 18 January 2019 at 23:59.

In order to have the right to vote and/or apply for a position in the Board, you must be in order of membership. This means that you must have paid for your membership in 2020 (fee of 20€) at the latest by 15 January 2020. If you aren’t sure, please contact

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JEF Belgium Training Days 2019 in Leuven!

You know the drill: every year, we invade a city in Belgium for a weekend-long Training Days event. This year, we were in lovely Leuven!

The programme focused on empowering young people to shape the future of youth civil society.
Quite some time was also dedicated to a topic dear to our heart – Federalism – so that participants could build their knowledge and own narrative about it!

Our Code of Conduct applied during the whole event.

You can download all relevant information about the event in our Infokit here.


Download as PDF


18:00 – 18:30: Welcoming + Introduction

18:30 – 19:30: Parallel workshop sessions:
(1A) Federalism? – “help me get started!”
(1B) In-depth federalism – different understandings & perspectives

19:30 – 21:30: Dinner out
21:30 – open end: Kick-off night out in Leuven !



09:45 – 11:15:
(2A) Capacity building & membership outreach
(2B) Advocacy & activism

Coffee break

11:30 – 13:00:
(3A) Why you hate newsletters but like the news and love a letter (Digital Content Strategy)
(3B) Raise and spend your first 1,000€


14:30 – 16:00:
(4A) ABC for Local Sections – Structures, Duties & Rights
(4B) Let’s do this ! The know-how of Successful Project Management

16:15 – 17:45:
(5A) Opportunities in JEF at the European level
(5B) Hands-on federalism applied to current affairs: the case of Climate Change

Evening out: Team-building and discovering Leuven’s nightlife


09:00 – 09:45: Brunch
10:00 – 12:30: Time for Action !
Afternoon: Optional sightseeing tour

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I choose Europe – JEF Belgium promotes the European Elections 2019

JEF Belgium takes part in the campaign “I Choose Europe”, which is co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and coordinated by Young European Federalists (JEF Europe) together with 10 further national JEF sections and several other civil society organisations: Animafac, Assembly of European Regions, Balkans Beyond Borders, Center for Intercultural Dialogue, DYPALL Network, Europe4Youth, European Educational Exchanges – Youth for Understanding, and the Union of European Federalists.

Our goal is to strengthen young people’s public participation before and after the European Elections 2019 and encourage them to vote. By achieving this, we want to send a strong message to decision-makers and the public that the European youth is not just a passive audience, but a growing social and political force.

With a series of debates and public events we are raising awareness about the European Elections:

March 13th – 18th, Paris, France
European Youth Exchange

Together with more than 120 participants from all over Europe took part to the first large scale youth exchange of the #IChooseEurope campaign. Not only did we learn from each other during the dozens of parallel workshops over the 5 days of the event. We also officially launched the #IChooseEurope campaign during Quartier Général – Le Festival des jeunes engagé·e·s en Europe! Thanks to all the partners of the project and our co-participants for making it happen!

More information

April 25th, Leuven, Belgium
Debate with Belgian Candidates to the European Parliament

Together with the Europe service of the province of Flemish Brabant, VLEVA and KU Leuven, we are organizing a European elections debate with the following candidates:

  • Marianne Thyssen (CD&V)
  • Mark Demesmaeker (N-VA)
  • Kathleen Van Brempt (sp.a)
  • Lieve Wierinck (Open Vld )
  • Gerolf Annemans (Vlaams Belang)
  • Petra De Sutter (Groen)

Moderator: Prof. Steven Van Hecke (KU Leuven)

When? 7.30 p.m.
Where? Auditorium van het Provinciehuis, Provincieplein 1 – 3010 Leuven
Please register here before April 22

April 30th, Brussels, Belgium
Debate with Belgian Candidates to the European Parliament
& Final Stop of the “I choose Europe” Bus Tour

Another local campaign event takes place on April 30th, when the I Choose Europe bus tour has its final stop in Brussels. At 6.30 pm, we will open the doors and invite everyone to join us for welcome drinks, some quick and easy info on the elections in Belgium & a full and frank discussion with a selection of Belgian candidates to the European Parliament!
To the Facebook event page

As part of the campaign activities, the “I Choose Europe” bus visits more than 12 locations in 12 countries. Its main goal is to connect the countries participating in the campaign and making a good case for maintaining and strengthening the freedom of movement in Europe in the context of the upcoming elections. On April 30th, the bus will bring young people from different parts of Europe to Brussels. 

How to join the bus tour

May 5th, Brussels Belgium
JEF Belgium Stand at “Fête IRIS Feest” 

The cosmopolitan city of Brussels has been the capital of the European Union for over 20 years. It has many institutions, all of which are important in our citizens’ lives. If you want to learn more about European actions in general and the upcoming elections to the European Parliament in particular, you will find us with in the “European Village” at the Brussels Park from 12:00 – 18:00h. We will welcome you with a lot of fun activities, insightful information and open minds!

To the Facebook event page

May 9th, Brussels, Belgium
Debate with Belgian Candidates to the European Parliament 

JEF Belgium will join the debate at the Brussels Parliament, organised by ULB and VUB, where we will moderate one of the debate tables and facilitate the discussion with first-time voters from Belgium about the following topics: migration, climate change, poverty reduction, desinformation & “fake news”.

May 26th, Belgium

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Looking back – Looking forward

On January 10, JEF Brussels organised their yearly New Years reception in local bar Zonneklop, a favourite meeting point of the section.

It was a moment to look back at 2018 and look forward to upcoming events in 2019. In 2018, JEF Belgium was partnering in the Enjoy Your Future project and JEF Brussels was especially active to make this project a success. The purpose of the project was to bring together youth around five different topics for the future of the European Union: Employment, Youth, Integration, Criminal Organisations, and Borders. These discussions resulted in different recommendations for each topic, all of which youth from across Europe thought they should be a priority for the future of Europe. This reception marked the official end of the project.

Here are some snapshots from that evening:



For more information about the results of the project, contact

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JEF Belgium Training Days 2018: The devil wears populism

After a couple days of rest, it is time to look back at the amazing weekend we had in Liège at the JEF Belgium Training Days. The 2018 edition – The Devil Wears Populism – was franed around the theme of debunking fake news and false narratives and building political narratives.

After an informal Friday night to get to know each other over a nice hot plate filled with a-ma-zing Moroccan couscous, we were ready for an intense day of training sessions on Saturday.

Trainers Philipp, Flavio & Max 






Y Vote’s project manager Philipp Blum was brave enough to face a “hey my morning coffee hasn’t quite kicked in yet” audience for a session about civic education and the Y Vote campaign ahead of the 2019 European Parliamentarian elections.

Flavio Grazian, Digital Democracy Coordinator at ECAS, continued in the morning with a training about Fake News. In this interactive session, we learned more about the history of Fake News (spoiler alert: it’s not such a new phenomenon after all) and what it in fact is.

After a well deserved lunch break, Max Frey, MEP assistant and professional Jedi trainer, set out the different kind of actors on social media – who knew there’s actually a big difference between a troll and a bot?? But he went well beyond that and also explained how to interact with (or in some cases ignore) these different actors through a set of very practical tips and tricks!

Panel discussion: Marc Tarabella, Max Frey, Benjamin Bodson
Handing in the Enjoy Your Future recommendations








After the three trainings, it was time for a panel discussion about the Future of the European Union, how to deal with Fake News, and how to build a political narrative from a local and European perspective. The panel was moderated by JEF Belgium’s president Martin Maréchal and existed of Marc Tarabella, a Belgian Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Max Frey, MEP assistant and candidate in the local elections, and Benjamin Bodson, representative in the Liège city council. At the end of the panel, we also handed in the Enjoy Your Future recommendations as part of the project.

Sarah’s driven session about building a narrative

Sarah Dejaegher, communications expert, was in charge of the very last training session of the day. She went above and beyond and kept the audience awake, listening, and even active! She gave us an incredibly good interactive session about the art of political storytelling, which is a crucial skill when we are conveying our beliefs and vision for the future.

Sunday was our last day of the training days, which we used to look to the future and the activities ahead. Below you can find some final snapshots from a very successful weekend!


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Autumn Federal Committee 2018 on a boat!

For the second Federal Committee of 2018, JEF Europe brought the challenge to whole new level, organizing it on a boat connecting Sweden and Finland by night!

After a very interesting panel debate on the topic of smart cities, and how to design efficient and sustainable cities for the future, we as part of the 100 participants coming from all-around Europe departed from Stockholm (Sweden) to sail in the direction of Turku (Finland). After a first night partying on the boat, we arrived in Finland to properly start the autumn FC 2018.

Activity reports, presentation of the very good financial situation of JEF Europe, the launch of various ambitious projects related to the upcoming European elections we all then moved on getting to work in the three political committees. We discussed and proposed amendments to be voted on the next day. Followed were the different workshops.

The 100 JEFers hopped on the second boat to sail back to Stockholm on Saturday night. and what a night this was! A full dance floor of JEFers, a (too) successful karaoke, numerous drinks from the duty free shops, contemplating the Baltic Sea on the boat’s decks, all to make what will remain an incredible experience and an unforgettable FC.

Congratulations to all the Secretariat and Board for all the hard work, and a special thank from JEF Belgium to the newly appointed Secretary General, Milos Ristovski, for whom this FC was the first to organize!

Next FC will take place in London in march 2019 (a week before Brexit, coincidence, I think not!) and the next Congress will take place in Paris! See you all there!

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BINGO! Fun level of SOTEU: 1000

On September 12, it was BINGO time! As Jean-Claude Juncker gave his last official State of the European Union with his vision for the future of Europe, JEF Brussels gathered (a lot of) young people to play a bingo game linked to Juncker’s speech. Afterwards, it was time to discuss our own vision for the future of Europe, which was – if you ask me – much more ambitious. See you next time?

Quite the turnout, as you can see in the pictures!

And there was some talent in the room… Special guest: a violin player! (These events never stop surprising)

This event was part of the Enjoy Your Future project. For more info, contact:

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