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“This proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation”

Although a European federation has not been achieved, democratization and identity-building have been crucial components of the European integration. From the demonstrations of European federalists, to the first direct elections of the European Parliament in 1979, to the debate on the fundamental rights of the European Union, institutions and citizens have long discussed the meaning of being European.

Citizenship of the EU was given to the citizens of Member States by the Treaty of Maastricht, but this concept is still a much debated issue, as it questions individual and group identities in the current global environment.

Federalist demonstration in Milan, 29 June 1985. HAEU, UEF 415 – Photo: Unknown

Christine Verger (FR),
EU official 1984-2009. HAEU, INT 302​

Calling for a federal Europe

The Union of European Federalists (UEF) was established in 1946, to coordinate the activities of the many federalist movements across Europe. The first federalist movement, Movimento Federalista Europeo (MFE) was founded by Altiero Spinelli in Italy, in 1943.

Federalist demonstrations in Strasbourg, 18 July 1979. HAEU, UEF 229 – Photo: Unknown
UEF demonstration in Brussels, 28 June 1987. HAEU, CS 46 – Photos: Claude Schöndube.

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union was signed in 2000 and became legally binding in 2009. It sets out the fundamental rights of everyone living in the European Union.​

Human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity are the fundamental values on which the Union is based, while democracy and rule of law are its operating principles.

European Commission memo on the European Union’s role in promoting Human rights and democratisation in third countries, May 2001. HAEU,  AV 96​
Poster on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. HAEU, NDG 2

Vassilis Skouris (GR)
President of the Court of Justice of the European
Union 2003-2015. HAEU, INT 870

Raymonde Dury (BE)
Member of the European Parliament (MEP)
1982-1998. HAEU, INT 826​

Democracy in the EU: the direct elections of the European Parliament