I was honoured to be elected Vice Chair of the UK section of the European Movement this weekend.
The European Movement is the most venerable pro-European organisation. It was founded at the 1948 Hague Congress presided over by Winston Churchill, bringing together representatives from across the political spectrum, including Konrad Adenauer, Harold Macmillan, Bertrand Russell, François Mitterrand, Paul-Henri Spaak, and Altiero Spinelli. It helped launch the historic postwar reconciliation and cooperation of European countries that led to the creation of the European Union.
The British section of the European Movement played a key role arguing for British membership and in helping to win the 1975 referendum. It is the only nationwide pro-European organisation based on individual membership. Its members include people who are not involved in any political party, plus a number of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative members. It has branches across the country.
The recent challenges to our EU membership from UKIP and the hard right of the Conservative party has stimulated a renewed interest in the European Movement, illustrated by its packed AGM with not a single seat to spare in the LSE lecture theatre in which it was held on Saturday.
The AGM proclaimed the Movement’s intention to make the case for Europe in a way that is not held back by the partisan considerations that have polarised debate on Europe into one view that says the EU is terrible so we’d better leave it, and another saying that it’s terrible but we can reform it. The European Movement is well placed to say “hang on a minute, there are actually some good things about the EU, which we should value”.
Laura Sandys MP has been elected Chair, courageously facing down eurosceptics in her own party. I have been elected First Vice-Chair, facing little hostility but much euro-ignorance or euro-apathy in parts of mine. Petros Fassoulos, who kept the organisation on the map in recent years, will also be a Vice-Chair and Charles Kennedy will remain honorary President. We intend to speak out loudly and clearly.
But the strength of the organisation lies in its grass root members and local sections. If you want to join as a member or simply register as a supporter, please do so. The website, shortly to be updated, has an online membership section which you can use to join.