When The Ecosprinter asked me to write about the Green European Foundation (GEF) I admit that I accepted with pleasure. In my view – through the eyes of one co-president of the foundation – a lot had been achieved in a very narrow timeframe from the set-up of the organisation in 2008 to its present form as a functioning part of the Green European network in late 2009.
However, what I was asked to do was to picture myself in 2020 and look back on an imagined 12 years of GEF. What would the development have been, what the successes, what the challenges along the way?
Thinking about it I believe that in 2020 I would like to write that through GEF…
– … we found a way to successfully foster the development of a European public sphere where Green ideas are strongly represented;
– … we play a role in Europeanizing national political debates beyond the mere adding up of national discussions on Europe;
– … we have been carrying out studies that had an influence on the political debate in Europe, by highlighting the fundamentals of Green’s political proposals;
– … we have organised workshops, capacity building seminars and conferences that enabled political activists to integrate European issues further in their political discussions;
– … we made it possible for people from various backgrounds and from all corners of Europe to exchange views and actively participate in European debates, while at the same time creating strong ties between our member organizations, by then all key actors at their national levels;
– … and that all this in time grew into an expertise that contributed substantially to a broad network around Green issues at European level, reaching far beyond the party’s political boundaries.
It is also quite easy to imagine the greatest challenges: not only must we tackle growing euro-scepticism and nationalism questioning the very existence of Europe, but in a Green context we also face important questions of spreading the Green word. In this sense in 2020 I would like to look back and say that in cooperation with the Green Group in the European Parliament, the European Green Party and many dedicated people on national level in foundations and parties we have managed to empower activists in countries where Green ideas have yet to enter the political arena. In 2020 I would hence wish for a Green Group in the European Parliament that is comprised of members from 27 (or then 28, 29, 30…) member states and a similarly large Green European Foundation.
Thinking about 2020 I would therefore like to go back to 2007. In 2007 the reasoning of the European Parliament to engage in the creation of political foundations was clear: the popularity of and the interest in the EU political space was severely decreasing among European citizens. Therefore, foundations such as GEF should fulfil the challenging mission of bridging the gap between Europe and its citizens. Developing a common European public sphere, enabling participation in European politics and strengthening the democratic infrastructure on the European level have always been at the core of Green politics in Europe. These are constant and on-going tasks for GEF. By 2020 I would like to be able to say that GEF has played a visible role in achieving these goals.
Pierre Jonckheer, Co-President, Green European Foundation, September 2009
If you would like to read more about the Green European Foundation from a perspective of 2009, you can visit our website: www.gef.eu