2023: Campaign wins, increased momentum and rapid growth

Published on December 22, 2023

Yearly Round Up 2023 

Growth  

This year we saw the European Movement grow at a faster rate than ever before, our staff team has grown from 15 to 20, membership grew from 16,000 to almost 22,000 and we are thrilled to have launched local groups in new places around the UK. In fact, our staff, volunteers, and partnerships have grown so much over the last year that in 2023 we will be moving to a bigger office space in London to make sure that we have enough space to collaborate and keep growing our movement at an even faster rate.  

This year we also welcomed a new CEO, Sir Nick Harvey. Sir Nick was Liberal Democrat MP for North Devon from 1992 to 2015, and Minister of State for the Armed Forces from 2010 to 2012. But his impressive resume doesn’t stop there. 

Prior to joining EMUK Nick was Chief Exec of the Lib Dems and has been a member of both the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Standards and Privileges Committee. Nick has been an asset to the movement since he started in July, and we can’t wait to see everything his leadership will bring us in 2024.  

Campaigns  

Save our Standards  

In 2022, we launched our ‘Save our Standards’ campaign urging the government to halt the Retained EU Law Bill. At the end of 2022, we had over 20,000 signatures but in 2023 the campaign gained even more momentum, thanks to our supporters and local activists across the UK.  

In February 2023 wereached over 45,000 signatures on the initial petition, thanks to help from local campaigners who took part in a Retained EU Law Action Day in February 2023.  

After the Action Day the campaign moved past the petition and focused on directly contacting MPs. Thanks to our supporters, all 650 MPs were contacted about the bill, forcing conversations in Westminster. Once the bill moved into the Lords, over 10,000 people signed our open letter to the House of Lords calling for them to halt the bill. In Scotland and Wales, REUL was rejected in both the Senedd and in Holyrood where our supporters overwhelmingly wanted to halt the bill.   

We’re proud to say that this campaign was a success and thanks to your efforts, our movement alongside hundreds of charities and organisations sent this Brexit Government a clear message. Our standards, the rule of law, and democratic oversight are worth fighting for. This resulted in the government reducing the number of laws that will be reviewed by the end of the year from 4,800 to 600 pieces of legislation. Plus, in November 2023 it was announced that EU equality laws for workers will be enshrined in UK law. Both of these announcements were a huge win for this campaign and would not have happened without action from our members and supporters across the world.  

Business Impact Report  

In November 2023, we released our Business Impact Report focusing on the impact Brexit has had on SMEs from the perspective of almost 2,000 business owners across the UK. Overall, the report highlights multiple challenges, from new Brexit red tape, a lack of workers, and huge hikes in overheads. You can hear some of the opinions of SME businesses here. 

The report was launched in a meeting in Westminster in November 2023 where EM Wandsworth & Merton (the orchestrators of the report) were joined by Marsha de Cordova MP for Battersea in Westminster to host ‘The Business of Brexit: The Impact of Leaving the EU on Businesses in Battersea and Wandsworth’.  

It was only right the report was launched in this way as the idea was initiated by EM Wandsworth and Merton, who first started gathering evidence from local businesses in their area. We owe a great deal also to Swindon for Europe, who ran a business survey of their own. The great work that our local groups put in inspired us to make the Business Impact survey a national project and we’re very proud of the result 

Throughout 2024 we will continue to use this report to put pressure on the government and relevant stakeholders to demonstrate the impact Brexit is having on businesses.  

Horizon Europe  

At the end of 2022, we promised that 2023 would see us launch campaigns that focused on rejoining Horizon Europe and the Erasmus+ programme, and we’re pleased to say that we did exactly that. After an agreement on the Windsor Framework in March 2023 we launched our ‘Bring Back Horizon Campaign’ alongside major scientists urging supporters to sign our open letter calling on the UK Government and the European Commission to put the future of science and innovation before political point scoring.  

When rejoining the programme was delayed in July 2023, we mounted even more pressure on the government by working alongside scientists and launching a Write to MP aspect of our campaign. Over 23,000 supporters signed the open letter and almost 7,000 supporters wrote to MPs up and down the country. Thanks to your support in September 2023 the UK rejoined the Horizon Europe programme bringing us one step closer to retruning to the heart of Europe.  

Embrace Erasmus+  

In February 2023, the Young European Movement (YEM) UK welcomed participants from across the UK to London for its 2023 Erasmus+ Academy, a political bootcamp designed to connect like-minded young pro-Europeans, provide them with a toolkit of skills for how to run an effective political campaign highlighting the benefits of the Erasmus+ programme. 

Then in June 2023 members of YEM were chosen by the EU Delegation to the UK to represent Britain at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, where almost 10,000 young people gathered to participate in the 2023 European Youth EventThroughout the event, YEM members emphasised the need to reconnect British youth with Europe by addressing Brexit deficits, such as being part of the Erasmus+ Programme and resolving visa issues for students and young workers alike. They spoke with several leading EU officials, including Vice-President of the European Parliament, Katarina Barley MEP.   

In December 2023 alongside the Young European Movement, we launched the ‘Embrace Erasmus+’ campaign urging the government to regain access to the Erasmus+ programme. At the time of writing the ‘Embrace Erasmus+’ petition has more than 25,000 signatures, and has gained support from the likes of Sadiq Khan, Vince Cable, Caroline Lucas MP, Layla Moran MP, and Liz Saville Roberts MP. Plus, it featured in the Evening Standard, POLITICO, The London Economic, and GB News.  

The campaign has already been discussed in Westminster during a roundtable discussion chaired by Klajdi Selimi, President of the Young European Movement.  

In 2024 we will continue to work with YEM to push this campaign even further to ensure the politicians can’t ignore our call for access to the Erasmus+ programme now. Hear from some of the people impacted by Erasmus+ here.  

Save the EHCR  

Following the response to the government’s Rwanda immigration policy, two weeks ago we launched a campaign calling on Rishi Sunak to commit to our membership of the European Court of Human Rights because it is the last line of defence of our rights and freedoms. Members of the European Movement will feel déjà vu when the Government uses immigration to discredit an international organisation that protects our rights and standards.   

At the time of writing this campaign has over 12,000 signatures on the petition. Our campaign to inform people about the benefits of the ECHR and the European Convention on Human Rights is just starting and you will be hearing more from us very soon. 

Local groups and grassroots activities  

Leeds for Europe petition debated in Westminster  

After the Leeds for Europe petition calling for a public inquiry into the impact of Brexit launched in 2022 it subsequently hit 100,000 signatures meaning it was eligible to be debated in Parliament. The subsequent debate took place on April 24th, 2023, and MPs from across all parties attended calling for a public inquiry.  This debate demonstrated that there is still cross-party support to break the conspiracy of silence on Brexit and we will continue to put pressure on MPs to use every power they have at their disposal to deliver a public inquiry. You can watch the full inquiry here.  

Pride  

In June, London4Europe volunteers attended the London Pride event in Trafalgar Square. During the day they handed out more than 2,500 leaflets and had so many important conversations with people across the political spectrum. Overall, leafleting at London Pride allowed us to reach a diverse audience, promote our values, understand public perspectives, recruit new members, and shape a positive narrative surrounding European unity. Other local groups also attended Pride events including Cardiff for Europe, Herefordshire for Europe and North East for Europe among others. 

Grassroots conference  

In July, members of local groups headed to Sheffield for the annual Grassroots conference. The day was attended by roughly 170 people both in person and online and included a polling session, a detailed outline of how the EU has changed since 2016 from our policy expert, and a speech from our new VP Dominic Grieve. Overall, it was a great day not only for local groups to meet and collaborate on new ideas but to learn how to grow and develop as an organisation.  

Grassroots Hub  

In September 2023 we also launched our Grassroots Hub. The Hub is a brand-new online resource that makes a wealth of information, training, and campaign resources available to our network of branches and local groups. Designed to give them ownership of their own campaigning and development, it will be continually expanded and was well-received by local groups following its launch. 

As part of that expansion, we have recently launched a public section of the Hub. This section, which is available to anybody, showcases some of the amazing work that our local groups have done across the country, and makes it easier for our members and supporters to get involved with groups in their area. 

Partnerships  

European Movement Scotland  

This year EMIS welcomed their new Coordinator, David McDonald who has been able to push the organisation further than ever before.   

The year got underway with local groups supporting the national ‘leave a light on’ events, shining out a ray of hope for our place in Europe. At the Dundee event Vice Chair, Jo Goodburn addressed a rally at the Caird Hall.  

In June EMIS welcomed Mike Galsworthy to Scotland, with events at Edinburgh’s Library of Mistakes and at the University of Strathclyde.  

In July EMIS launched their unlock Erasmus+ campaign urging the Scottish government to rejoin the programme now. This was coupled with an event in Glasgow attended by the Young European Movement.  

In October/ November, EMIS attended political party conferences including the SNP conference, Scottish Greens and the Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in Edinburgh. The SNP Conference was EMIS’s first time participating at a party conference. EMiS hosted a fringe event on how Scotland could reconnect with the EU right now and cultivate deeper collaboration with our European neighbours.    

By all accounts at all the conferences, EMiS’ efforts were met with an overwhelmingly positive response, affirming the growing resonance of the pro-European message within Scotland's political landscape.   

In November, Scotland enjoyed welcoming the Senior and Junior Stars north of the Border, and creating a tour with 7 stops – https://euromovescotland.org.uk/we-want-our-star-back/ - involving a range of audiences, in: 

  • Dumfries where they discussed rural, regional and environmental issues 
  • Glasgow where they launched a new Forum for EU Nationals 
  • Stirling where they had a conversation around the Futurescope with SNP, Lib-Dem, Green and Labour politicians  
  • Glenrothes where they met the public in a community theatre and shopping mall 
  • Dundee where they held a Youth Forum with politics students, an MP, an MSP and two local councillors and finally; 
  • Edinburgh where they spent time in the Scottish Parliament meeting MSPs and then in the City Chambers having a Citizens Forum around the Future scope with non-politicians addressing the five dimensions of the Star. 

At every event the Stars left a noticeable impact on participants and according to Jo Goodburn, Vice Chair of EMIS “it galvanised local groups, reigniting enthusiasm for campaigning to ensure we stay close to Europe”.  

EMIS said a sad farewell to our Patron Dr Winnie Ewing, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Winnie served Scotland as an MP, MEP and MSP over many decades. Also, EMIS’s Mike Russell Honorary President stood down from his position.  

In 2024 EMUK and EMIS will work together to create a reciprocal membership scheme for members living in Scotland. We look forward to working more closely with EMIS then.  

Wales for Europe  

WFE has had another busy year, with positive growth in both their membership and supporter mailing list. With the help of the Reciprocal Membership scheme, WFE’s total membership, including all reciprocal members, is now over 300. Non-reciprocal growth has been positive too, increasing by around 37% this year.  

Here is a brief overview of their campaigns, events and activities in 2023:  

At the start of the year, they conducted an interview with Jane Dodds MS - Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, discussing how Brexit is impacting Wales specifically. Then they held an event with Lord Neil Kinnock titled ‘Wales, Europe and the Future’ not only reflecting on the impact of Brexit but focusing on how WfE can change public opinion in Wales.  

On the 19th of April, Wales for Europe held an online members-only event with Liz Saville Roberts MP, who represents the Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency. Members had the opportunity to engage with Liz and ask questions. A strong opponent of Brexit, Liz Saville Roberts expressed support for our movement, and calls for a public enquiry into Brexit.   

On the 24th of April, Wales for Europe held an event with Alun Davies MS - the Senedd Member for Blaenau Gwent, and a former Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services in the Welsh Labour government. Throughout the event Alun Davies touched on how “membership of the single is important for us”, using Northern Ireland’s advantageous current position as an example of the importance in having Single Market access. 

During the last few months of the year WfE held multiple stalls as Cardiff Pride 2023, Caernarfon Pride 2023 and had great representation at the National Rejoin March in London. Following on from these great events WfE invited Mike Galsworthy, Chair of EMUK to an ‘In Conversation’ event in Cardiff where Mike particularly touched on how young people can change public opinion in Wales.  

Following this WfE organised the ‘Our Star Rally’ in Cardiff led by Former Chair Jackie Jones, which consisted of a number of cross-party speakers, collaborating with Our Star nationwide campaign.  

Young European Movement  

As you can see from campaigns and events outlined above, it has been a truly busy year for the Young European Movement! From representing the voices of Britain’s youth at the European Parliament to leading a nationwide campaign for the UK to embrace the Erasmus+ Programme, our team has showcased that we are the largest and most vocal campaign force for pro-European youth in the UK. 

Here are a few additional highlights of 2023; 

In June, YEM members were delighted to congregate in Scotland for our Summer Social. Hosted in the breathtaking Glasgow City Hall, YEM President Klajdi Selimi opened the morning by introducing Cllr Declan Blench of the SNP, who educated us on the role of local government in Glasgow and the connection between Scotland and the European Project.  

After lunch, Green Party Councillor Anthony Carroll led a session focusing on the role which the EU has played in combating climate change and restoring our natural environment, taking questions and hearing insights. Anthony was succeeded by Kaukab Stewart MSP, the first woman of colour to be elected to the Scottish Parliament, who shared a testimony on how she became involved in politics and how through a philosophy of internationalism we could defeat prejudice and inequality.  

The afternoon was signed off with a questions and answers session with Dr. Mike Galsworthy, Chair of European Movement UK. Mike told us about the need for more young people in the Movement and his unwavering support for YEM’s campaigning activities. 

 In September, the Young European Movement partnered with JEF Ireland to launch their cross-community, pro-European student society on campus in Queens University Belfast, the Young Europeans NI. With the launch attended by more than sixty enthusiastic young students, it remains clear that Northern Ireland’s youth demand an outward-looking, pro-European future. 

YEM UK has been honored to welcome voices from across the political spectrum in Northern Ireland to its branch, from former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Mike Nesbitt MLA, to Stephen Farry MP of the Alliance Party, and Claire Hanna MP and Matthew O’Toole MLA of the SDLP. It has also heard from distinguished voices from the Republic of Ireland, including Colm Markey MEP and Senator Malcolm Byrne. 

In November, former Treasurer of the Young European Movement, Martin Penov, was elected to the board of JEF Europe, the pro-European umbrella body of which YEM UK is a member. Martin’s election to this significant position showcases our commitment and standing within the wider pro-European political community, and will serve as an asset for our campaigning and activities into the future. 

Values  

Still European – Europe Day  

To mark this year's Europe Day, we interviewed people around the country about why - despite Brexit - they are still European. You can watch the videos of people we spoke with here.  

Marking 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement  

In April 2023, as part of our campaign to keep Northern Ireland’s unique position on the political agenda, we released a series of films which speaks to the everyday people who did their bit to ensure the Good Friday Agreement succeeded. 

The intergenerational film works through more than 60 years of deeply intimate and personal history, covering The Troubles, tourism, integrated education and regional regeneration. Watch the full film here.  

The films are not only connected to our wider aims of peace, stability and security but they are a powerful and moving series of films, directly from the people who lived through one of the most transformational times in modern history.  

Once the films were released, they were watched by over 1 million people, plus they were covered in the Independent, POLITICO, The Irish Examiner, and the Belfast Telegraph as we marked this crucial milestone in the country’s journey.   

If you haven’t watched the individual interviews, then we encourage you to watch them now. Thank you again to everyone that took part in Belfast, and we promise to continue to campaign to keep Northern Ireland on the political agenda.  

75 years of the NHS  

On 5th July 2023, to mark 75 years of the NHS we launched our new film, called ‘Brexit Dead Ringer’, which takes aim at leading politicians who lied about the health service to deliver Brexit in a film that is striking, bleak and utterly compelling. 

The film shows a man calling the NHS to book an appointment in a split-screen sequence calling back to one of the most memorable and disingenuous Vote Leave ads from the EU referendum. The video was watched by over 800,000 people.  

Events  

Eurovision Song Contest 

This year the UK hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool in May 2023, it was a moment of solidarity, a symbol of unity and harmony with our neighbours. As hosts, all eyes were on us, so we thought what better time to show the rest of Europe that we’re still a welcoming, outward-looking country and that Brexit doesn’t define us. On the night of the Eurovision final over 200 supporters of our movement hosted private parties across the UK, using materials provided by EMUK and sharing the notion of ‘Still European’ on social media for all to see.  

After this event we had an overwhelming amount of support from EU citizens across the UK who said they felt welcomed and included in the UK, something many had not felt since 2016. A big thank you to everyone who got involved with our 2023 Eurovision events.  

Political Party Conferences 2023  

This year EMUK attended the Liberal Democrats, Conservative and Labour part conferences, while EMIS attended the SNP, Scottish Greens and Liberal Democrats ones in Scotland.  

At the Lib Dem conference;  

  • Hundreds of people visited our stall in Bournemouth International Centre from MPs to Former MEPs, Ambassadors to High Commissioners, founding members of the Liberal Democrats to young people unable to vote in 2016. And it was great to meet so many EMUK supporters in person.  

  • On Monday 25th September we hosted an event ‘Reversing the calamity of Brexit: Restoring market access’ with our Vice President Sir Vince Cable alongside Daisy Cooper MP, Jürgen Maier, Jane Dodds MS and Nick Harvey our CEO.  
  • During the event, we launched our ‘Business Impact Report’ - made possible thanks to input from EMUK members and supporters - and heard from the panel about why we must restore our trading links with Europe by re-entering the single market.   
  •  On Tuesday 26th September we made sure that hundreds of delegates, including the Leader, his colleagues and senior team, woke up to pro-EU messages on their hotel doorhandles with the message: “Please Make Up... Our Relationship with the EU”. 

  • This stunt was our way of showing that the Liberal Democrat leaders need to address the elephant in the room – the fact that Brexit has failed and polling now shows that most people would like the UK to be back in the EU. The story was picked up on Tuesday by The Express and Sky News. 

At the Conservative Party conference;  

  • On Sunday 1st October we hosted an event in partnership with Bright Blue ‘The Future of the UK in Europe’ where we heard from Anand Menon from UKICE, Ryan Shorthouse CEO of Bright Blue and Former MP David Gauke. The event was extremely well attended, and has since been covered by the New European. 

At the Labour Party conference;  

  • On Monday 9th October we hosted an event in partnership with Labour for a European Future where we heard from Richard Corbett, Martin Whitfield MSP, Nick Harvey and Mike Galsworthy. 

Webinars  

Throughout 2023 we hosted quarterly webinars focusing on topics such as the Erasmus+ programme, the impact Brexit is having on businesses, the need to halt the Retained EU Law Bill and the future of UK-EU relations post Brexit, one with Lord Ricketts and another with Neil MacGreggor. Each of the webinars were open to a range of members and supporters and left space for a Q+A and an open discussion between panelists and audience members. In 2024 our aim is to hold monthly webinars of this kind. 

Fundraising  

Let's smash the political silence on Brexit 

In March 2023 we launched our first Crowdfunder of the year urging politicians to end their political silence on Brexit. We based the fundraising campaign on the notion that everyone knows Brexit isn't working, but politicians won't face up to reality, and that this has to change. At the time of writing this campaign has raised £102,513. 

Brexit has failed. It's time to undo the damage 

In September 2023 we launched the second Crowdfunder of the year where we drew attention towards the vital rights and freedoms lost because of Brexit. Our request was to donate now so we can reclaim what's been taken. We are pleased to say that since then we have rejoined Horizon Europe and launched our campaign on Erasmus+. At the time of writing this campaign has raised £77,888.  

EMUK shop 

In October 2023 we launched our Christmas card range and over 12,000 cards were sold ready for the Christmas period. In November 2023 we launched our brand-new shop which includes hoodies, t-shirts, tote bags, mugs, tea towels and badges. All orders placed go directly to the campaign to reverse the calamity of Brexit. 

Elections  

In March 2023 our members went to the polls and elected Dr Mike Galsworthy as the new chair of the European Movement UK. Throughout the election, Mike laid out plans to accelerate the growth of the European Movement and promised to bring his expertise of science and his passion for local campaigning to the forefront of his position as Chair, and Mike has not disappointed.  

Since becoming Chair Mike has used his social media presence to grow our movement, he was actively involved with EMUK’s ‘Bring back Horizon’ campaign and used his knowledge as a scientist to outsmart Brexiters and encourage more scientists to get involved with the campaign. Plus, he has attended grassroots events and action days, and is on numerous committees internally within EMUK, aiming to make our movement more inclusive and collaborative for all across the UK. A big thanks to Mike for everything he has done throughout 2023.  

As well as electing a new chair, our AGM took place in November, where Molly Scott Cato was elected to stay on as our Senior Vice Chair for another two years in November 2023, alongside Richard Wilson as Vice Chair. You can watch the hustings here.  

And Molly has already been hard at work as our new Senior Vice Chair, in November she led EMUK’s first diplomatic visit to Dublin. The diplomatic visit took place on Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th November and is the first in a series of missions by EM UK to EU capitals.  

The visit was supported by European Movement Ireland, and during the visit the delegation met with leaders including Minister of State for European Affairs Peter Burke and Minister of State in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Neale Richmond. The group also met with Government officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs. So, a big thank you to Molly for all she has done for EMUK in 2023.  

In November, at the AGM, EMUK members also elected a new National Council consisting of members across the entirety of the UK and we as a movement are excited to work with the new National Council in 2024. Across our partnership organisation, Wales for Europe (WfE) conducted a hybrid AGM on 6th December 2023, held in Cardiff, where new company directors were approved. Jackie Jones stood down as Chair, and the process for recruiting a new Chair began. European Movement in Scotland also held its AGM on 8th December, with some changes to the committee.  

The Young European Movement (YEM) also had an election this year where they elected a new President, Klajdi Selimi alongside a brand-new board of young individuals committed to restoring freedoms and opportunities. Thank you to everyone who voted and stood in elections this year.  

This year we launched 5 new committees including the membership committee, international committee and diversity committee that are part of the National Council. These committees are completely run by local activists. Since launching these committees have organised online events, improved diversity within our movement, and are in the process of planning a 2024 action day. It has been inspiring watching local activists across the UK become more involved with the movement throughout 2023. 

As well as growing our staff, members, and representatives we also added a new Vice President to our team, Dominic Grieve. Since being appointed VP, Dominic gave campaign advice at our Grassroots Conference in July, supported our membership drive in June and has been an advocate for the movement in the press.  

Other Pro-EU events  

‘Where Next for Brexit’ meeting  

On Wednesday 10th May several pro-EU groups met at Europe House for a private meeting led by the ‘Where Next for Brexit?’ group.    

The theme of the meeting was the need for pro-EU groups to work more closely with one another. It is becoming clearer by the day that Brexit isn’t working; public opinion is shifting, Bregret is at all-time high and pro-European groups are responsible for shifting the dial. So, the question posed to the room by European Movement President, and keynote speaker, Michael Heseltine was how we, as members, leaders and founders of pro-European organisations, keep the momentum going and work together in the process  

Julian Priestly Memorial Lecture  

On Thursday 11th May at Europe House, European Movement UK helped organise the annual Julian Priestley Memorial Lecture. Julian Priestley was one of the first generation of British EU Civil Servants and after his premature death in 2017, a number of his friends decided that a fitting way to mark his European commitment would be to establish an annual lecture in his honour.  

This lecture is designed to provide an opportunity for prominent speakers to contribute to the ongoing debate about the European Union in the United Kingdom and The European Movement UK is proud to co-organise the annual event. This year’s Julian Priestley Memorial Lecture was hosted by Mark Mardell and given by Alastair Campbell with the title 'What one generation does, so the next can undo’. 

National Rejoin March  

This year the National Rejoin March took place on September 23rd, 2023. The march was attended by thousands of European Movement supporters and members and was a chance to express anger about Brexit, meet likeminded individuals and show your support for rejoining the EU.  

The year ahead  

This year we have witnessed public opinion shift at a faster rate than ever before, that’s because more people than ever are experiencing the negative impacts of Brexit firsthand.  

2024 will be special, as we approach a General Election, we will fight to get Europe on the political agenda, we will rebuild relationships with the EU, and we will continue to launch campaigns that focus on the impacts of leaving the EU and give everyone impacted a space to speak out.  

Thank you to all our members and supporters that signed petitions, attended action days, got involved with local groups, attended events and donated to our campaigns. The success of 2023 was all thanks to your contribution.  


Our movement is powered by people like you coming together to battle for the soul of our country!