Question: We are here at an interview with the newly elect Secretary General of JEF. Firstly congratulations on your new position! Tell us briefly about your background, what has been your path that has led you here?
Valentin: I’m Valentin, I come from France. I’m extremely pleased to be pointed for next two years as a Secretary General of JEF Europe. I think it’s going to be an amazing adventure.
My path I see to be a bit different of most of the people involved in JEF. I come from the sport sector, I have Master’s Degree in sports management and my first jobs were about organizing sport events. I had nothing to do with policy. I actually organized the European badminton championship seven years ago, which was my very first job. Then I have been working in different NGO’s: European University Sports Association and International Sport Association where I was working in European projects and sport policies. Then I have also been volunteering for the past four years in Erasmus Student Network, where I have been president of my local section, ESN of Nancy,and then president of ESN-France. Now I’m taking care of advocacy and lobbying matters of ESN-International and working on competence development of our members.
That is pretty much my diverse background. At the moment I’m still employed before coming to JEF-Europe and I’m working for the European Civic Forum, which is another network of associations. I’m working on the field of participatory democracy and civil dialogue.
Q: How do you see JEF’s position in pro-European movement?
V: Well I think the main difference comparing to EMI [European Movement International]and UEF [Union of European Federalists] is that we have the J, Les Jeunes, the young in the name. We have a strong responsibility in addressing the young people in particular and bringing the voice of young people to European leaders and policymakers. So I think definitely this specificity being young people is our role in pro-European movement. I also think that our “youth” dimension allows us to be more action oriented. We can carry important political reflections and propositions, but we can as well be leading campaigns, be on the street, mobilise people much more than our ‘mother’ organization.
Q: Your term starts in August. Where do you see JEF will be at the end of your term?
V: That’s a tricky question! So I have two years to make the organization grow and develop. I’m very lucky to be starting now in August because Ioan [the present Secretary General] has been doing an amazing job. The organization is in very good shape and state, so I’m going to take over in a very financially sustainable organization. First, I’m going to start in this very nice context.
And where I want JEF to be in two years: office should be bigger. This means getting more funding for the organization by improving the services that JEF-Europe is offering for national sections. Policy work by JEF is really amazing, but there is still room for improvement in what JEF-Europe is offering to its’ members. Office could include network officer working there, project officer working full-time to help sections to organize more projects.
Q: Do you have some greetings you would like to send for JEF-Finland?
V: I don’t know you yet so I hope I will get to know you soon. Maybe by invitation I could come and discover what you are doing in the different cities of your country to defend and fight for pro-European idea. I’m really looking forward to meeting you and I hope for a chance to visit you at least once during the next two years. Good luck to your and I’m looking forward our cooperation!