The Green European Foundation is a European level political foundation. It is linked to, but independent of, other European Green actors such as the European Green Party and the Green Group in the European Parliament. Modelled on many successful national green political foundations, GEF works to encourage European citizens to participate in European political discussions and to ultimately forge a stronger, more participative European democracy. The primary source of GEF’s funding is the European Parliament.
The mission of GEF is to contribute to the development of a European public sphere, where European citizens can engage in a political dialogue to shape decisions taken at European level. A key audience for GEF is the Green political family across Europe; politicians, activists, policy experts, or campaigners, who GEF works with to encourage cooperation across borders, disseminate expertise and information on EU policies and EU decision making, and share best practices. However GEF works to reach the widest possible audience, engaging in social media, publishing in different languages and ensuring events and publications are easily accessible to those interested.
GEF shares the belief of the wider Green movement that some of Europe’s most pressing problems, such as energy provision, climate change and food supply, can best be resolved at European level. GEF therefore works to make such cooperation a reality by providing a platform for networking between Green actors at the European level and disseminating expertise on European issues within and beyond the Green political family.
Since its inception as the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952, the European Union has greatly increased its powers as well as expanding from 6 to 27 Member States. However the EU is yet to develop a political sphere at European level to match its competences. This has resulted in a sense of disconnect between the EU and its citizens, as demonstrated for example by low turnout at European Parliament elections and difficult ratification referenda for EU treaties over the past decade.
The EU institutions have attempted to tackle this problem, and looked at various ways to engage citizens in political dialogue, among them national political foundations as potential models. On their initiative the European Commission launched a pilot project in 2008, which gave funding to establish political foundations at European level.
This pilot project phase was competed at the end of 2008 with a Regulation formalising the structure of political foundations (EC 1524/2007), which provided each with funding based to a large extent on the size of their respective groupings in the European Parliament. The Regulation requires each foundation to have an associated European Political Party, which in the case of GEF is the European Green Party. Currently 13 political foundations are operating on a formal basis.
GEF - inside and outside the European Union
The bulk of GEF’s work relates to, and takes place within, the European Union. However, given the EU’s ongoing expansion and Europe’s shared values and history, GEF does not confine itself to the borders of the EU. It will continue to reach out to, and work with, interested partners across Europe. This includes hosting events in non-EU countries..