Born "over dinner" from a conversation between ALDE Group President and federalist Guy Verhofstadt and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Co-President of the Greens Group, the Spinelli Group will act as a network of MEPs to promote action, reflection and intervention for a federal Europe inside and outside the European Parliament.
"We will organize twice a year a shadow European Council to voice a federal view of integration, we will have federalist lectures and generally defend the European interest: federalism shall not be a taboo any longer. We cannot accept an intergovernmental Europe where the European Council sets the pace of integration", Mr Verhofstadt said. "Our mission is simple: we shall put Europe first and defend the Community method", he added.
Andrew Duff and Sergio Cofferati have been appointed as co-chairmen of the Group. "Our priority shall be to enhance the democratic legitimacy of the Union by establishing since 2014 transnational electoral lists for the EP", said Duff, President of the UEF and author of a pamphlet on the subject which was distributed today to the MEPs present.
Other key issues that the Group and all other federalist forces in Europe shall work on are a federal budget, a real economic government for Europe, an effective European Citizens' Initiative, European defence, EU-centred education and school programmes.
The incoming Treaty revision will provide a window of opportunity that the Spinellians are eager to exploit in order to focus once again on institutional issues. Gianni Pittella, MEP and Spinelli Group member, went even further, proposing a new Convention.
A key challenge facing the newborn Group will be how to communicate with the "external world". As recalled by President Buzek, national capitals are still in many ways the guardians of the Treaties. The Group will have to dialogue with national governments and parliaments, with the European Commission as well as of course with the citizens, NGOs and think-tanks which want more Europe. "We need to close the gap with our citizens", Bas Eickhout Dutch MEP recommended, adding that "being from a country which votes down a Treaty is an experience I do not wish to anyone".
"We shall be Spinellians in everyday life and proud of being federalists!", concluded Sylvie Goulard MEP. Alea iacta est. The next meeting of the Group will take place in Strasbourg in mid December ahead of the last 2010 European Council. Treaty change will be the main item on the agenda.