The European Free Alliance (EFA) is a European political party.
It consists of various regionalist political parties in Europe advocating either full political independence and sovereignty, or some form of devolution or self-governance for their country or region. The alliance has generally limited its membership to progressive parties, therefore only a minority among European regionalist parties are members of the EFA.
Since 1999 the EFA and the European Green Party (EGP) have joined forces within Greens–European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) group in the European Parliament, albeit some EFA members have joined other groups from time to time.
The EFA's youth wing is the European Free Alliance Youth (EFAY), founded in 2000.
Regionalists have long been represented in the European Parliament. In the 1979 election four regionalist parties obtained seats: the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Flemish People's Union (VU), the Brussels-based Democratic Front of Francophones (FDF) and the South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP). The SNP, although being predominantly social-democratic, joined the European Progressive Democrats, a conservative group led by the French Rally for the Republic. The VU and the FDF joined the heterogeneous Technical Group of Independents, while the SVP joined the European People's Party.
In 1981 six parties (VU, the Frisian National Party, Independent Fianna Fáil, the Party of German-speaking Belgians, the Party for the Organization of a Free Brittany and the Alsace-Lorraine National Association), plus three observers (the Union of the Corsican People, the Occitan Party and the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia, CDC), joined forces to form the European Free Alliance. Regionalist MEPs continued, however, to sit in different groups in the European Parliament: the SNP in the Gaullist-dominated European Democratic Alliance; the VU, the Sardinian Action Party (PSd'Az) and Basque Solidarity (EA) in the Rainbow Group, together with Green parties; the SVP in the European People's Party group; the CDC with the Liberal Democrats; and Batasuna among Non-Inscrits.
Only after the 1989 European Parliament election did EFA members form a united group, called Rainbow like its green predecessor. It consisted of three Italian MEPs (two for Lega Lombarda and one for the PSd'Az), two Spanish MEPs (one each for the PNV and the Andalusian Party, PA), one Belgian MEP (for VU), one French MEP (Union of the Corsican People, UPC), one British MEP (SNP) and one independent MEP from Ireland. They were joined by 4 MEPs from the Danish left-wing Eurosceptic People's Movement against the EU, while the other regionalist parties, including the SVP, Batasuna and the Convergence and Union of Catalonia (CiU) declined to join.
In the 1994 European Parliament election the regionalists lost many seats. Moreover, the EFA had suspended its major affiliate, Lega Nord, for having joined forces in government with the post-fascist National Alliance. Also, the PNV chose to switch to the European People's Party (EPP). The three remaining EFA MEPs (representing the SNP, the VU and the Canarian Coalition) formed a group with the French Énergie Radicale list and the Italian Pannella List: the European Radical Alliance.
Following the 1999 European Parliament election, in which EFA parties did quite well, EFA elected MEPs formed a joint group with the European Green Party, under the name The Greens–European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA). In the event the EFA supplied ten members: two each from the Scottish SNP, the Welsh Plaid Cymru, and the Flemish VU, and one each from the Basque PNV and EA, the Andalusian PA and the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG).
In the 2004 European Parliament election, the EFA, which had formally become a European political party, was reduced to four MEPs: two from the SNP (Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smith), one from Plaid Cymru (Jill Evans) and one from the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC; Bernat Joan i Marí, replaced at the mid-term by MEP Mikel Irujo of the Basque EA). They were joined by two associate members: Tatjana Ždanoka of For Human Rights in United Latvia (PCTVL) and László Tőkés, an independent MEP and former member of the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UMDR). Co-operation between the EFA and the Greens continued.
Following the 2008 revision of the EU Regulation that governs European political parties allowing the creation of European foundations affiliated to European political parties, the EFA established its official foundation/think tank, the Centre Maurits Coppieters (CMC), in September 2007.
In the 2009 European Parliament election, six MEPs were returned for the EFA: two from the SNP (Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smith), one from Plaid Cymru (Jill Evans), one from the Party of the Corsican Nation (PNC; François Alfonsi), one from the ERC (Oriol Junqueras), and Tatjana Ždanoka, an individual member of the EFA from Latvia. After the election, the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) also joined the EFA. The EFA subgroup thus counted seven MEPs.
In the 2014 European Parliament election, EFA-affiliated parties returned twelve seats to the Parliament: four for the N-VA, two for the SNP, two for L'Esquerra pel Dret a Decidir (an electoral list primarily composed of the ERC), one for Los Pueblos Deciden (an electoral list maily comprising EH Bildu, a Basque coalition including EA), one for Primavera Europea (an electoral list comprising the Valencian Nationalist Bloc, BNV, and the Aragonese Union, ChA), one from Plaid Cymru, and one from the Latvian Russian Union (LKS). Due to ideological divergences with the Flemish Greens, the N-VA defected to the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group and the EH Bildu MEP joined the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group: the EFA representation within the Greens/EFA group was thus of seven MEPs.
In the Brussels declaration of 2000 the EFA codified its political principles. The EFA stands for "a Europe of Free Peoples based on the principle of subsidiarity, which believe in solidarity with each other and the peoples of the world." The EFA sees itself as an alliance of stateless peoples, striving towards recognition, autonomy, independence or wanting a proper voice in Europe. It supports European integration on basis of the subsidiarity-principle. It believes also that Europe should move away from further centralisation and works towards the formation of a "Europe of regions". It believes that regions should have more power in Europe, for instance participating in the Council of the European Union, when matters within their competence are discussed. It also wants to protect the linguistic and cultural diversity within the EU.
The EFA broadly stands on the left-wing of the political spectrum. The Brussels declaration emphasises the protection of human rights, sustainable development and social justice. In 2007 the EFA congress in Bilbao added several progressive principles to the declaration, including a commitment to fight against racism, antisemitism, discrimination, xenophobia and islamophobia, and a commitment to get full citizenship for immigrants, including voting rights.
EFA members are generally progressive, although there are some notable exceptions as the conservative New Flemish Alliance, Bavaria Party, Schleswig Party and Future of Åland, the Christian-democratic Slovene Union, the centre-right Liga Veneta Repubblica and the far-right South Tyrolean Freedom.
The main organs of the EFA organisation are the General Assembly, the Bureau and the Secretariat.
In the General Assembly, the supreme council of the EFA, every member party has one vote.
The Bureau takes care of daily affairs. It is chaired by François Alfonsi (Party of the Corsican Nation), president of the EFA, while Jordi Solé (Republican Left of Catalonia) is secretary-general and Lorena Lopez de Lacalle (Basque Solidarity) treasurer and first vice-president. The Bureau is completed by other nine vice-presidents: Olrik Bouma (Frisian National Party), Chantal Certan (ALPE), Jill Evans (Plaid Cymru), Anders Eriksson (Future of Åland), David Grosclaude (Partit Occitan), Flemming Meyer (SSW Landesverband), Ana Miranda (Galician Nationalist Bloc), Wouter Patho (New Flemish Alliance) and Natalia Pinkowska (Silesian Autonomy Movement).
This is a list of EFA member parties.
Before becoming a member party, an organization needs to have been an observer of the EFA for at least one year. Only one member party per region is allowed. If a second party from a region wants to join the EFA, the first party needs to agree, at which point these two parties will then form a common delegation with one vote. The EFA also recognises friends of the EFA, a special status for regionalist parties outside of the European Union.