By Bev HaighJones

Many people, it would seem, are not aware that the European Movement that we know in the UK is not a stand-alone group, but is actually one member of a much larger European Movement International. EMI has a total of seventy-six members, consisting of over thirty individual countries, plus a great many other political and socially based organisations – the perfect platform for those wishing to maintain the closest possible relationship with the rest of the EU.

The idea of a United European Movement was first discussed in 1947 by notable statesmen such as Winston Churchill and Duncan Sandys and in 1947, after a several name changes and incorporations, The Joint International Committee for European Unity was born. In May 1948, 800 delegates from across Europe gathered for a conference in The Hague, presided over by Winston Churchill, and it was here that he gave what became his famous speech on his vision for Europe. The European Movement itself was created in October 1948, when the Joint International Committee for European Unity changed its name. They elected Duncan Sandys as President and Léon Blum, Winston Churchill, Alcide De Gasperi and Paul-Henri Spaak became Honorary Presidents.

Their first major achievement was the creation of the Council of Europe in May 1949. The European Movement was also responsible for the creation of the “Collège d’Europe” in Bruges and the European Centre of Culture in Geneva. This is what they say about themselves now: “The European Movement is a network of organisations that has mobilised citizens and advocated for a democratic, federal and enlarged union since 1948. The work of the European Movement International is organised into Political Committees, each of which take the lead on set themes decided by the members at the Federal Assembly”.

Those who are familiar with the European Movement UK may be aware that in early 2021 Cornwall for Europe became an affiliated group. There had been some criticism of the Movement in the past, with some feeling that there had been insufficient action on their behalf. However, we were happy to take this step as we could see that through new management and chairmanship, the Movement was taking huge steps to change their approach and become more pro-active.

The current EM Executive is chaired by Lord Andrew Adonis, an avid, pro-EU Labour Peer. Since his appointment, the Movement has focused on increasing its membership, becoming a credible voice for Rejoin. They have also increased the number of members on their National Council to one hundred, two of which are members of Cornwall for Europe, so we are well represented and in a position to help shape future policy decisions.

Patrons of the EMUK include Rt. Hon, Lord Heseltine as President, Rt. Hon. Baroness Quin and Rt. Hon. Steven Dorrell as Vice Presidents, and several others including Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve, QC.

Recent elections resulted in the appointment of Molly Scott-Cato and Richard Wilson as Vice-Chairs, bringing a great deal of commitment and experience to the Executive team.

Particularly interesting though, are the very recent appointments of two new members of staff: Mike Galsworthy, famous for founding Scientists for EU and for his involvement with the Bylines network, who is now Campaigns Strategy Adviser, and Jack Dart, a Torbay Councillor and founder of Inspire EU as Social Media Manager.

The above changes have resulted in a more focused approach to the group’s goals. The constitution has been amended and a future strategy agreed. The Executive and National Council also agreed that the Movement should remain completely cross-party and that there would be no campaigning either for, or against, any UK political party. Members of all political persuasions are welcome as members, provided that their policies and values align with the EM.

Apart from campaigning against undesirable, or draconian changes to UK laws, lobbying for the retention of our food and animal welfare standards, protesting against the poor treatment of refugees and EU citizens in the UK, the EM champions many causes. Their main, long-term aim of course, is to rejoin the EU, but they are realistic and know that this will not be achieved overnight. If this is to happen, it will no doubt require a number of interim steps and support from the UK electorate is likely to be crucial along the way.

We all know that the more people that are behind a protest, or campaign, the greater chance it stands of success. To this end, the EM are currently on a recruitment drive for members to boost numbers for forthcoming campaigns and the ultimate push to rejoin the EU. Membership is on an individual basis – being a member of an affiliated group does not qualify.

If you feel, as we do at Cornwall for Europe, that as many pro-EU groups and individuals as possible need to join together, as we did on the London marches, to produce the greatest impact, then we would suggest that you consider becoming a member of the European Movement. It would appear to be the best chance of creating that necessary, cohesive force for protest and campaigning moving forward.

Details of how you can join can be found here.

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