Following the successful Grassroots for Europe Conference on 25 January 2020 and the 2019 General Election results, a small team of campaigners were determined to keep existing cooperation going and to maximise the work and the wider progress of our movement in conjunction with all like-minded groups. These volunteers met regularly throughout March 2020 and drafted a proposal for the first Round Table.
The team invited Grassroots for Europe (GfE) to host the Round Table and to become one of the founding participants. We have found that this initiative offers a holistic way to learn mutually from one another; to see what is working; to experiment more and to provide that much lamented and all-important missing element – a joined up pro-European, civil society approach that so many millions of our compatriots want to see and support.
To date, we are confident in stating that, in line with our common aspiration, the participants of the Round Table are building momentum and trusted foundations for collaboration and effective campaigning success.
By February 2022, we shall have completed 22 Round Table discussions with more monthly events and collaborative meetings lined up to maintain the momentum for what looks like becoming a pivotal and frenetic couple of years leading to a General Election.
The Round Table is a non-aligned, shared, safe space for Pro-European organisations to meet, exchange views, facilitate collaboration and create mutually supportive opportunities to:
- Continue to challenge and hold government to account on commitments and promises made.
- Work with organisations that aim to highlight/campaign to change some of the social and economic causes and effects of Brexit.
- Support EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in EU countries.
- Continue to campaign for the closest possible ties to the EU with a longer-term objective of participating in European institutional life, plans and initiatives.”
“….We are all going in the same direction of travel… we need the vision statement to be flexible and enable organisations to climb the “mountain” in different ways, at different speeds and have diverse experiences.” (Direct quote from our Consultation Process in July 2021)
The Round Table aims to support a broad, pro-European ecosystem, where campaigning organisations and pro-Europeans can feel at home and work beneficially together:
- To provide a space for campaigners to build the trust and the understanding we all need to sustain effective, coordinated approaches, whilst complementing and respecting the many other, more formal, structures that organisations individually adopt.
- To continue to respect its collegiate and collaborative origins, it has introduced a rotating chair policy. From the outset, the team’s watchword has been “reducing duplication of effort”.
- To support different initiatives where we can test processes for mutual reinforcement. For example, sharing and disseminating campaign visuals or hashtags for use across multiple co-related settings.
The Approach – How, When & Where?
The Round Table assembles “virtually” once a month. Chatham House Rule is applied. Participants are invited or can request participation. Summary Reports are prepared and circulated widely.
In an established series of Round Table meetings, over 20 campaign groups and individuals have come together to share their thinking and campaign initiatives. Our shared immediate priorities are to continue to campaign for the closest relationship with the EU, for respect of European values (of democracy, rule of law, respect of human rights, freedoms, solidarity etc) and to “hold Government to account” on commitments made at the 2016 Referendum. We just pursue these in our different ways.
Thanks to UKPEN.eu, we have a working tool (‘The Grid’) for sharing groups’ events and key national and international political milestones.
In addition, we are delighted that campaigns have already been able to reinforce others’ actions by mutual support and promotion, e.g. in a recent collaboration, the European Movement, Grassroots for Europe and UKPEN.eu all sent out mail shots in support of the different campaigns.
Round Table Speakers
We have had an engaging range of speakers, including:
Lionel Barber, former Editor FT
Professor Steven Barnett, Politics
Professor Richard Bentall, Psychologist
Anna Bird, CEO European Movement
Richard Corbett CBE, former MEP
Mike Galsworthy, Scientists for Europe
David Gauke, Lawyer and Former MP
Louise Houghton, Editor in Chief, Bylines Network
Will Hutton, Journalist
Nathalie Loiseau MEP, Co-Chair EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly
Hardeep Matharu, Editor Byline Times
Gina Miller, Businesswoman and activist
Dr Martin Moore, Political Economy
Peter Oborne, Journalist
Femi Oluwole, Political Activist
Professor Laurent Pech, Middlesex University, specialist in EU Public Law
Jessica Simor, QC
Naomi Smith, CEO Best for Britain
In conclusion, we appreciate that Round Table members all have different niches and, perhaps, different short-term focuses for action. We share a commitment to help support collaborative action and welcomes all campaigns that aspire to the same values and, by doing this, as equals, we can all achieve our aims and provide that missing overall impact.