European Movement position statement
Adopted by the National Council 6 March 2021
The European Movement is a cross-party, single-issue organisation. We are powered by over 10,000 members, some 160,000 supporters, 123 local groups, and our strong networks in Westminster and the EU.
For over 70 years, the European Movement has worked to build a closer relationship with the rest of Europe. The countries of the EU, with whom we share both deeply held values and a common history, are our closest neighbours and natural trading and cultural partners.
Brexit was a historic, national mistake. UK interests, and that close relationship, are best achieved by UK membership of the European Union. The European Movement will fight to rejoin the EU as soon as it is politically possible.
The road forward starts with campaigning to improve the current deal. We will work to rebuild our relationship ‘brick by brick’, where there is clear evidence that closer cooperation with the EU will benefit the UK’s economy, our citizens, culture and international prestige. As we do so, we will seek to build new support for Europe in Westminster and among the UK public.
We are investing to grow the Movement’s size, strength and influence to deliver on our aim to return the UK to the heart of Europe. But we cannot achieve our mission alone: we are committed to working with and learning from others that share our objectives.
Join us. We embrace our European identity. We value the economic, cultural and personal benefits that have been our birth right for nearly 50 years through EU membership. We campaign for better access to the rest of Europe and to preserve our European values. Join because you, like us, want a better future for the UK than the one our government is delivering.
European Movement Forward Plan 2021-22
Adopted by the National Council on 6 March 2021
- Who we are
The European Movement UK (EM) is a cross-party, single-issue organisation. We are powered by over 10,000 members, some 160,000 supporters, 123 local groups, and our strong networks in Westminster and the EU.
For over 70 years, the European Movement has worked to build the closest possible relationship with the rest of Europe. The countries of Europe, with whom we share both deeply held values and a common history, are our closest neighbours and natural trading and cultural partners.
2. Our aims
The European Movement strongly believes that leaving the European Union was a historic mistake. It has left the UK poorer, more isolated, and less prepared to take on the many global challenges we face. Without action to address the many failings of the current deal, Brexit’s immediate impact of trade barriers, red tape, supply chain interruptions and lost jobs will be added to in the longer term by a risk of slow erosion of the UK’s competitiveness, foreign investment, security national unity, international influence and of our rights, protections and opportunities.
The EM’s political objective is to build the closest possible ties with the rest of Europe. The relationship we seek with our European neighbours is best achieved by UK membership of the European Union, and the European Movement will fight to rejoin the EU as soon as it is politically possible.
In the immediate term our aims are to:
- hold the government to account for Brexit and its implications;
- create significant shifts in public opinion against Brexit and towards greater cooperation and closer ties with our European neighbours;
- create the conditions within which politicians across the political spectrum can develop a new narrative about Europe and the platform to rejoin; and
- grow a mass movement of pro-Europeans to sustain our campaign into the future.
3. Current position
In organisational terms, we start the year in a relatively strong position. We have enjoyed strong growth over the past 12 months in terms of our finances, our public reach, supporter list, and membership community. As a result of this growth, we have been, and are, able to invest in our internal capacity to deliver our aims, with a new CEO and a growing staff team (currently 9 members of staff). In the coming year we have the opportunity, due to a strong cash position, to invest in extending our profile and influence, supporting and amplifying activity at the grassroots, and further improving our internal effectiveness.
4. Allies and partners in the pro-EU movement
EM has several assets that make it unique: our history, the strong political networks we have cultivated in the UK and in the EU, and our relationship with European counterparts through EMI. The combination of a national membership offer, mass online following and a large local groups network is not currently replicated in any other organization.
But that does not mean that we can succeed alone, or that we do not have competition for support, income, or airtime. Quite the opposite is true. Our activists want us to work more collaboratively; if we don’t, we will lose support to those who do this well. Other pro-European organisations are also building their strategies and fundraising plans and those with focus can be nimble in building their offer. And we will not win back support for a close relationship with Europe without pooling the skills and resources of the various organizations advocating for this outcome.
There are numerous pro-European organisations and in 2020 some good work has been done to improve how these organisations work together and share intelligence, through the pro-EU roundtable and the UKPEN activity grid. EM is active in both initiatives and will continue to support informal coordination and discussion of the key issues we are all working to campaign to resolve. More focused cross-sector projects have been developed, such as the project to develop a shared narrative, and we will consider our involvement in these on a case-by-case basis.
During 2021, we will seek to strengthen our relationships with the most prominent pro-European organisations, some with staff but all with enthusiastic supporters, in collaboration with whom we can generate greater reach or influence for our shared objectives.
We will also work to deliver a positive evolution of the relationship between EM and Grassroots for Europe, which would be of value to our members and local activists.
We will also develop and/or build on our strategic partnerships with:
- Young European Movement (YEM)
- European Movement International (EMI) and other national European Movement organisations
- The European Parliament
- Wales for Europe and European Movement in Scotland (EMiS)
5. External landscape
To date there has been little substantive parliamentary scrutiny of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (the deal). Early evidence of the impact of leaving the EU is starting to trickle through in the media. However, some of the true impact is masked by Covid which has reduced both the amount of goods and people flowing to and from the continent. Studies show the longer-term impact of Brexit will be twice as severe as that of the pandemic. Some issues have cut through for the public – e.g. on the government’s choices around fishing, musicians’ visas, and Erasmus- and there has been some coverage of the impact on financial services (which the deal did not cover at all), data and security.
With government’s focus still primarily on the coronavirus pandemic, we are yet to see what the UK government’s wider domestic policy platform post-Brexit will look like. However, some early kite-flying around deregulation indicates we should be just as focused on regression of rights and divergence from EU values and standards as we should be on our access to EU markets and the economic impact of Brexit.
While there are still many unknowns, we should resist the urge to make firm predictions about the medium to longer term opportunity, and of building rigid campaign plans far into the future. Instead, EM will benefit from clarity about its long-term aim and approach, and agility in its short-term plans.
The road to rejoin starts with campaigning to improve the current deal. We will work to rebuild our relationship gradually – ‘brick by brick’ -, where there is clear evidence that closer cooperation with the EU will benefit the UK’s economy, our citizens, culture and international prestige. As we do so, we will seek to build new support for Europe in Westminster and among the UK public.
Early ‘bricks’ or opportunities for convergence might include rejoining Erasmus; a better deal on security matters; ensuring UK legislation and regulations remain closely aligned to EU standards, notably protecting workers’ rights, food and environmental standards; access to healthcare; progress towards greater freedom of movement; voting rights for EU citizens living in the UK; lessening commercial friction at borders; enhancing market access (eventually rejoining the Customs Union); mutual recognition of professions, and in the medium to longer term rejoining the Single Market. they might be about securing a commitment to EU standards in future international trade deals. The timing and prioritization of these bricks will be informed to a large extent by political opportunity and the extent to which public opinion is changing and might be changed.
7. Objectives 2021-22
The National Executive has agreed the following broad objectives for the year ahead, which were shared with the National Council in October 2020.
- Shape public opinion about social and economic impact of leaving the EU on families and communities across the UK;
- Position the European Movement as the leading authoritative, cross-party, pro-European voice in British politics;
- Influence government to build closer links with Europe where there is an opportunity to build on the arrangements in the current deal;
- Grow the movement to strengthen EM’s voice, credibility and resources.
Local impact: Our campaigns rely on compelling evidence of impact. We will work with EM local groups and National Council regional representatives to develop the local scorecard as a tool for local groups to capture evidence and build local campaigns. Through the regional reps, we will encourage regular sharing of data and stories across regions and with the national team, to inform national campaigns and communications. We will investigate opportunities to invest some funds in digital capability, to support local groups in their evidence-gathering and to allow for easy data upload and ways to visualise data effectively.
Throughout the year we will establish a series of local inquiries and campaigns, supported by EM and designed and led by local groups either individually or (preferably) by groups with shared interests joining together. The aim of these projects will be a) to undercover new evidence and stories, tracking change over time and highlighting areas that require government or local government action and b) to enable local groups and EM to build support and influence among target communities (eg business leaders, young people, the farming community etc). EM will propose themes (which might include for example: impact in areas affected by loss of regional development funding, impact on young people, impact on community anchor industries, cultural cooperation with the EU, EU citizens’ rights). We will also be open to ideas from groups themselves. EM will offer funding and other resources, training, connections and some staff time to design and deliver the projects.
9. National scrutiny: The European Movement will play a role in filling the gap in scrutiny of the deal, its impact and its implementation, including risks of divergence and opportunities to build on the deal in future. This will entail:
- campaigning for the government to retain the powers lost from the Commission on the Future Relationship with the EU in another Parliamentary body;
- positioning EM and EMI to play a key role in the Civil Society Forum and building our capacity to influence through the wider oversight structures set up under the Trade agreement;
- developing EM’s networks in Parliament by strengthening and clarifying the role of the EM political advisory committee as a regular cross-party forum for sitting MPs and Peers, and considering the potential to set up an APPG in due course;
- commissioning and publishing a series of independent impact assessments (cultural, environmental, economic impact);
- convening roundtables of European politicians, trade experts, and civil society leaders to discuss and develop strategies around particular ‘bricks’ or winnable issues emerging from the impact assessments, to inform our campaigns and political engagement.
10. Campaigning: The shape and scale of campaigns activity will reflect to a large extent what has been delivered in 2020, i.e., a series of ongoing campaign asks to respond to the external environment and keep our campaigners motivated, and a small number of larger campaign ‘peaks’ where we will mobilise the whole network around a call to action or demand.
In 2021, we will ensure greater involvement of our members and activists in design and rollout:
- Potential campaign ideas will be captured from evidence emerging from local group projects and the policy analysis we commission.
- Members will have a say in determining which of these issues we prioritise. Local activists, through the regional representatives structure, will be involved in developing local materials and actions to support campaigns.
- Communications plans will seek to amplify and shine a spotlight on local offline campaigns activity, always seeking to demonstrate the breadth of support in our movement.
- The campaign’s core messaging, the online supporter journey, national media and social media operation and Westminster influencing will be led by HQ, but we have identified from the campaigns team a small number of comms and campaigns experts who have offered to provide input and test ideas, on an informal advisory basis.
11. Communications: Our priority has to be to shift public opinion in two areas: firstly, that Brexit was a fundamental national mistake, and secondly, that a closer relationship with the EU will benefit the UK. EM will work with Wales for Europe and others involved in the pro-EU Roundtable group to develop a shared narrative that pro-EU groups can adopt that focuses on these key messages. Our contribution has already included sharing our strategic messaging framework and members of the CT leading the development work. This year we will dedicate staff resource (primarily from the Communications Manager) and supporting EM activists to contribute to this project.
EM will also explore opportunities to invest in external expertise around framing and messaging, to inform our – and the wider movement’s – communications and will feed this into the shared narrative project. If we want to counter right wing framing around sovereignty, deregulation etc, greater clarity about our audiences, deeper insight into the values that resonate with our audiences, and guidance about how to turn those insights into effective messages will be essential.
Finally, EM will focus the digital officer and some cash in upgrading our online profile and brand, through an overhaul of the website, investing in better graphic and video content for social media, and through more sophisticated segmentation of our lists.
12. Growing the movement
Membership: We have big ambitions for membership growth in 2021-22, with a target of reaching 20,000 members by end of March 2022 (from Dec 20 – 10,000 members). To do this we will need to retain the focus on optimisation of our supporter communications that has been so successful in 2020-21, and alongside this grow a deeper understanding of our target audiences and test new marketing routes for EM’s campaigns that grow our lists and build our profile with warm audiences. An increased marketing budget will be required to diversify our routes to market, but we will aim for this to be offset by membership growth.
To help grow the membership and deliver membership benefits, EM will set out a clear position statement, a comprehensive and clear membership offer that includes opportunities for both on and offline, national and local engagement. Greater involvement in EM’s activity will be a key component of the membership offer, aiding attraction, recruitment and retention. That means ensuring that members have a say in our campaigns and policy development, that there is a stronger link between our local groups and membership, that members are offered exclusive and priority access to events, and that we ensure that members have a say in how the organisation is run. It also means that a focus on membership must no longer be the preserve of the membership officer or the digital team, but a priority for every team and every part of our community.
Local groups: Our goal in 2021-22 is to build an improved 2-way relationship with, and increase the campaigns impact of, our existing local groups. This work will be informed by the BARNS study led by Dave Rowen. We will reshape roles and responsibilities both in HQ (by reshaping the Field Manager role to a Local Campaigns Manager role, to have more capacity to support local projects and connections between groups, and by creating a stronger link between the External Affairs team and local activists) and through the network (dissolving the campaigns team and re-energising the regional reps group). We will improve communications and encourage 2-way dialogue, including via the regional reps structure, regular branch chair forum meetings and an annual conference, alongside regular email bulletins and clear position statements on key issues. We will create a schedule of training and skills development for local activists, including support with recruiting new and more diverse supporters to local groups. Finally, and most critically, we will deliver on our promise to rollout Nationbuilder to all option 1 groups. This will be completed in the first half of 2021. The EM team will then support branches to use the database to build their own support base and to recruit new members to EM.
Outreach: There are a number of areas we could focus on in terms of outreach, but in 2021 we will prioritise the following four areas: political engagement, youth engagement, relationships with our European counterparts, and the diversity of our own supporters and members.
We have extended our capacity to focus on outreach through changes in the staff team: Hugo Mann’s role as Director of Engagement and Partnerships, Scott Daniels taking on additional responsibility for Outreach alongside his events role, and the new Comms and Public affairs manager role to oversee political engagement (as well as Richard Morris’s election to the EMI board and diversity measures adopted by the National Council). We will bring back to ExCo worked up plans in these areas by April 2021. In the immediate term, we plan to invest some funds to recruit a coordinator to support the newly elected YEM board to develop their first campaigns and to develop a university outreach model to mobilise many more young people to engage in pro-European campaigns.
13. Improving internal capacity
In 2020, action was taken to grow the staff team to improve capacity around membership and fundraising, communications and campaigns and to professionalise and inject more leadership through the appointment of a permanent CEO. The CEO has undertaken a review of staff structure and pay, and improved regular communications with members of the National Executive. In 2021, there is further work to do on basic organisational health, and to deliver greater agility and better delivery:
- review of HR policies and staff contracts
- improved performance management and upskilling staff in certain areas
- agreeing workflow and sign off procedures
- improved communication within the team, across the network and with external contacts
A budget accompanies this forward plan, which reflects our growth in income and a resulting growth in staff resource and expenditure on local and national campaigns, communications and political engagement. We will grow the organisation in line with income growth, to avoid having to rely in future on the cash position to make up for any income shortfall.
In 2020-21 EM built up a surplus due to strong membership and crowdfunding income. In 2021-22, EM will invest some of the surplus in building future capacity and effectiveness and growing the movement. This plan indicates a number of priorities for investment, including:
- Growing and investing in our movement: including boosting YEM’s growth and supporting grassroots projects.
- Communications effectiveness: including social media, audience and framing insights;
- Digital infrastructure: including website overhaul, Nationbuilder rollout and tools for community engagement, data collection and visualization.
A paper setting out the approach we might take and further detail on potential projects is tabled separately.
15. Success measures
It would be helpful to establish a quarterly review of progress against the plan, and to develop a series of performance indicators that we can report back on monthly alongside the membership and financial insights that are reported to the NE each month. Members of ExCo are invited to offer their support in working up what indicators would be most meaningful and the level of detail that would be most useful.
EM needs a better approach to managing risk as no mechanisms are currently established. A risk register will be developed and shared with ExCo at the March meeting.