“dreams and ideals for a continent ravaged by wars”
The European Movement was founded in 1948 by European pioneers such as Churchill, Adenauer and de Gasperi. Politicians and idealists gathered at the Congress of The Hague with the ambitious goal of preserving Europe. This historic conference was one of the initiatives taken to banish war and the division of our continent to ensure peace, stability and cooperation.
The European Movement in Belgium since 1949
The Belgian Council of the European Movement was founded in 1949 under the inspiration of Presidents as Paul Henri Spaak and Jean Rey and was very successful in its early years of existence. The election of the European Parliament by universal suffrage in 1979 (which appeared to some as the ideal bridge between the Community and its citizens) combined with a difficult financial situation, led to the end of the EMB’s activities. In the early 80s, the association was dissolved in a context where the European idea had made good progress and where its function to encourage the Belgian authorities and citizens to adopt a pro-European attitude was less necessary. However, in 1992, in the wake of the Danish and French referenda on the Maastricht Treaty, some personalities like our late honorary president Willy De Clercq have revived the European Movement Belgium because of a widening gap between European integration and public opinion.
Today it remains difficult for organisations such as the European Movement to survive financially. Nevertheless, Europe faces multiple crises. Although the EU has been struggling in the current constellations to cope with the various problems, Eurosceptics unrightfully point it out as the cause of all this evil. However, a rightful need for more democracy, transparency and participation seems to grow among European citizens; the gap with the citizen seems to be widening. Just as the Danish and French referenda in 1992 served as a wake-up call for the European Movement in Belgium, the financial crisis, the refugee crisis and most recently the British referendum (Brexit) open our eyes once again. There is still quite some (European) work to be done and our goals seem more useful than ever before.