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United in Diversity – Pro-Europeans should register their support
30 Nov, 2020

In this third and final blog of the tri-series, Gareth Steel explains why the Register to rejoin the European Union (EU) is launching.

Did you know the EU has a motto? Many are familiar with the European Flag, Anthem and perhaps Day, but motto? Yes there is a motto: In Varietate Concordia (United in Diversity). So as good Europeans how are we measuring up? We can usually be relied on to differ, but the unity part? Is there one belief that unites us apart from our pro-Europeanism?

As European Movement (EM) members and supporters, we would like the membership to rival that of the National Trust or RSPB. After all we were a million on that march. But we were and are members and supporters of a family of different pro-European organisations, and many are affiliated to none. Tens of millions of pro-Europeans currently prefer not to support formally, let alone take out individual membership, of the EM or other pro-European groups. But they count, and they need to be counted.

So how are we going to get in touch with the entire pro-European supporter/sympathiser base, whilst working well together as a family of activist organisations? The best way - in my considered view - is for there to be a single place, accessible to all accredited pro-European organisations, where we could list ourselves, our groups, our branches, our members, our supporters, our affiliations, our preferences and our common commitment to the pro-European cause. We also need to add all those now seeing Brexit as a mistake.

Is that a ridiculous aspiration? Or is there a way to get a single all-encompassing pro-European Register? We’ll see. On 1 January 2021, when Brexit condenses its many different mirages into one painful reality, the Register Organisation will begin its work. Set up for now under the UK Pro-European Network (UKPEN), the Register Organisation will slowly start collecting relevant key details of every individual and organisation that commit to using their influence and vote towards eventually re-joining the EU. Local groups looking for a new meaningful activity will be able to take responsibility for chasing down signatures in the areas they cover. When it is established independently, national pro-European organisations will be able to sign up to share the data collected, and, if they wish, to participate in the Register Organisation.

Is the Register the only way to pursue Unity in Diversity? Of course not.

  • The European Movement (EM) has strengthened its membership, governance, financing and membership offer, and is a visible focal point for all groups;
  • The EM Campaigns Team is now adding a useful counterpoint to the vital campaign work undertaken by the headquarters under its new Chief Executive;
  • Grassroots for Europe launched in early 2020 a Round Table where EM and other leading pro-European organisations have been sharing plans and strategic thinking;
  • Events with an EU interest gather in a single Key Events calendar feature on the website. Local initiatives could additionally be aired in regional fora before being stored elsewhere (eg on the UKPEN Toolbox).
  • Local groups might seek to find ways into other shared-value topics to help better reflect the diversity of our communities.

The pro-European Register initiative is an important activity, complementary to these processes. The choice of a pledge format is not an accident:

  • The creation of a new national shared database is not just about helping all the organisations get maximum benefit from each other’s work; it is about creating a tool that will pressure MPs to accept the actual will of the majority, rather than their party-political triangulations.
  • The People’s Pledge was launched in 2004, and by the time it became professionalised in 2010, it evolved into a formidable tool for those who wanted a Referendum on EU Membership.
  • The initiative sought to threaten incumbent MPs with a large number of constituents committed to voting against non-supporting MPs. This technique was used on our side in the Vote for Europe, Pledge for Europe and Pledge for the Future campaigns. We now have the time to work effectively and reach even greater numbers than were mobilised for the People’s Vote campaign. 

Nor is a slow beginning an accident:

  • This process is intended to begin slowly - like the People’s Pledge - without any public campaign (which would only serve to open opportunities for our opponents to call it denial of a vote four years ago and insensitivity to current sufferings). Instead, let’s go for the low-hanging fruit: those in existing organisations and social media groups, our friends, family and address books. Only when the circumstances seem right should this develop into open campaigning. It is an asset, one for which we have time on our side to strengthen.
  • The aim is also to prepare the ground for developments benefitting all pro-Europe organisations in the future. Some new thinking is developing in Europe on how data can be shared across whole sectors of activity. So, as the Register Organisation constitutes itself as a movement spanning co-operative endeavour. it could be upgraded to a common Open Source IDS database ecosystem (see this IDSA White Paper: Sharing Data while Keeping Data Ownership), offering our movement potential efficiency and cost savings. 

The courses that pro-European groups will follow from 2021 may well be many and various. The new Register of groups, organisations and people who want us to re-join the EU can be a unifying thread. So watch out for on New Year’s Day! Given humble origions, cut it some slack and encourage the organisations you work with to get in there and beef it up over time.

In varietate Concordia!

Gareth Steel
Co-Founder, UKPEN and Co-Chair, Lewisham East Branch, European Movement

London4Europe blogs are edited by Nick Hopkinson, Vice-Chair. Articles on this page reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe. 


Part 1: Let’s build Pro-European assets for the future

Part 2: The time is now to start preparing for the next public vote

Part 3: United in Diversity – Pro-Europeans should register their support!


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