Interview: Meet the project managers of the first simulation of a federal Europe!

, by Les Jeunes Européens - Strasbourg

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Interview: Meet the project managers of the first simulation of a federal Europe!

From June 11th to 16th, the first simulation of a federal European Union will take place in Strasbourg and Ortenberg. The New Federalist met the project managers, Sonja Rentz and Clément Maury, in order to grasp the spirit of this unique project.

TNF: First, could you explain us in a few words what exactly Y-FED is?

Sonja Rentz: The Y-FED is a simulation that puts into practice a reform proposal for the European Union institutions. Participants to this simulation will have the possibility to grapple with the functions and structure of a further integrated European project. They will also exchange with experts and policy makers about their experience in this European Federation and discuss the potential implementation of such reforms.

Clément Maury: This event is also a test of a European Federation. Even if we are pro-European, we must admit that the European Union as it is now is not perfect, far from it. But what if it became more integrated? Would it at last be capable of finding solutions to major issues and crisis? This is what we want to prove with this project.

Where does the idea for this project come from?

Sonja Rentz: The idea for this project came up after we organised the European Youth Convention in March 2017. During this event, we convened 150 youth organisation leaders from across Europe in the European Parliament in order to write a new European citizens’ constitution. This constitution proposes a refoundation of the European project by reforming its institutions. The Convention and its proposals were a big success and we even had the opportunity to present it to the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani. However, we realised at some point that all those discussions about how to reform the European Union are often very abstract, and in consequence inaccessible for young citizens. Therefore we want to put the proposals of the European Youth Convention into practice.

Clément Maury: It is also an opportunity to shine a light on the debate concerning federalism. Even in our pro-European organisations, we simply say that we are federalist and that’s it. But what does it mean concretely ? Do we want a “German” model? An American model? Something else? In my country [France], many people, even among the pro-European militants, still make the confusion between a federal EU and a more integrated EU in a centralised way. Federalism is not obvious in itself and neither is the model of a European federation.

How does this simulation differ from classic simulations of the European Union?

Sonja Rentz: Classic simulations of the EU, which are more commonly known as “Model of European Union”, aim at increasing the participants’ understanding of the functioning and interaction of EU institutions during the legislative process.

In contrast, Our Model European Federation has a two-fold objective: On the one hand, we want to enable young people to understand how a treaty revision could transform the EU institutions. On the other, we aim at “crash-testing” whether a European Federation could better tackle the challenges that our current Union struggles with. Therefore in the event’s second part the participants will deal with several emergencies in a crisis simulation and we will see if they manage to find some kind of solution to respond to the crisis.

What does a federal Europe mean?

Sonja Rentz: [Smiles] Personally, I would say that it is the answer to a lot of challenges in the future of Europe. A federal Europe is the result of a further integration of the European Union, where the European level may interact more directly with the local level or individuals. How exactly this could be achieved, so for instance whether we should elect a European president directly, remains for me an open question. For this project we chose to take up the proposal which was adopted in the European Youth Convention, so a proposal which was approved by young citizens from all over Europe. Though, precisely because we are aware of the diversity of proposals for further European federation, we wanted to do this kind of a “crash-test” I was mentioning before.

Clément Maury: For me, federalism is the only credible solution as a next step of European integration, simply because what else if not federalism? French centralism is not adapted to the huge political and social diversity in Europe. Intergovernmental models can temporarily bring innovations but are inefficient when you have to take courageous decisions. European federalism means more democracy thanks to the subsidiarity principle and more sovereignty thanks to the efficient institutions based on common interests.

What is the goal of this project, what impact would you like to see?

Clément Maury: This simulation aims to bring a strong and structured contribution to the debate about the European institutions. For that, our model of simulation must be as realistic as possible so that its results can prove the expected benefits of a federalisation of the current European Union. And what if the participants fail to find a proper solution? It would simply mean that the system which was imaginated during the European Youth Convention can be improved... but I don’t think we can do much worse than the European Council concerning migrations [smiles]. We will evaluate the results with sincerity and expertise and disseminate them on a large scale.

Sonja Rentz: The Y-FED takes place two weeks after the European elections, when debates on the future of the EU still prevail across different media channels. Expectations for the newly elected parliament will be discussed and this is the moment to advocate for reform in Europe. Our proposal is ambitious, though it is also a clear statement in which direction we want the EU to go. With high participation of civic society in this project, we want to show that further European integration is not only discussed by experts, but that European citizens want to experiment this reform and want to exchange with policy makers on a concrete implementation.

A practical question: who can apply to this simulation?

Clément Maury: Everyone between 16 and 35 years old and who is interested in how a European federation could work! You can apply on Y-FED’s website: You don’t need to be member of a European youth organisation or to be a political expert!

Thank you for your time!

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