European Free Alliance (EFA): Emergence, Perspectives & Significance

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  • 0:02 European Free Alliance
  • 0:45 History
  • 2:31 Politics
  • 3:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore the European political party, the European Free Alliance, a party whose sole goal is winning the right to national self-determination for various regions and groups of people in Europe.

European Free Alliance

What does it mean to be free? For some it means being able to walk about without being bothered by police or officials, or simply the freedom to do their own business whenever they like. For others, it's more complex, like having a say in local or national government by voting for your own representative. For even others, freedom can be a collective idea, like the freedom for a certain group of people or region to determine the very basis of their government.

In Europe, there are multiple regions of other countries, like Catalonia in Spain or Scotland in the United Kingdom, which would rather be their own country with a separate government. Unlike regions elsewhere in the world, in Europe these regions have their own champion in the European Union - the European Free Alliance.


The European Free Alliance (EFA) was founded in 1981. It was founded in part as a result of the European Parliament being elected directly for the first time in 1979. Previously, national governments had chosen each country's delegates to the European Parliament. The advent of direct elections for the European Parliament led to the election of several members of parties from areas who wished to become independent from their home country. This included parties like the Scottish National Party, the Flemish People's Union, and others.

This laid the foundation for the coalescing of the European Free Alliance. These parties from these disparate groups came together to draft two documents, the Charter of Brussels and the Declaration of Bastia, which made a commitment to set up a permanent institution in Brussels to fight for the independence of disparate regions.

From these declarations the European Free Alliance was formed in 1981, a cooperative of nationalist parties and officials that envisioned a 'Europe of the Peoples,' referring to their founding principle of regional and local self-determination. The EFA remained an important voice for these regions at the European Union throughout the 1980s. However, in the 1994 elections, the EFA lost many seats and several parties left the coalition.

As a result, the EFA formed an alliance with the European Green Party in the run-up to the 1999 elections. As part of this larger coalition, the Greens-EFA group returned 23 members to the European Parliament. The EFA has rebounded from its mid-1990s trouble, and as of 2014 has 40 member parties. Election results for their Greens-EFA coalition have also been better, and the coalition has 50 sitting members in the European Parliament as of 2014.

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