21st Oct 2016

Social Europe on the Horizon

  • PES president Sergei Stanishev along with socialist and democratic heads of state and government will meet in Paris on 12 March to address the challenges that Europe is facing. (Photo: Götz Schleser)

Looking ahead to the European Progressive summit in Paris on March 12

The European Union is facing the crisis of its life. The economic crisis, the nationalist response to it, the euro crisis and the lack of solidarity shown towards refugees have brought the very spirit of Europe into question.

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  • "Our children, our youngsters, should be at the centre of our political action," says Stanishev. (Photo: PES)

Our citizens feel increasingly distant from the politicians who represent them, more and more they are turning their backs on the idea of Europe, many are turning to populists and nationalists.

As socialists and democrats, we have long known the problems we face; high unemployment, a huge youth unemployment rate – over 50% in Greece and Spain, hindered not helped by austerity – a highly unstable neighbourhood and an evident inability to forge a functioning European asylum policy.

Schengen is at risk, borders are being closed instead of secured, countries are blaming one another instead of helping each other and people are being forgotten by those who give in to immovable macroeconomic objectives or illiberal, nationalist ideas.

Populists will not offer solutions. Our socialist and democrat family, on the other hand, offer real solutions to shape the EU for the benefit of the people. Unlike other political families we have a common European project, we have developed a common agenda for growth and we stand by it.

We, the socialists and democrats, have been the driving force of the European Union. From François Mitterrand to Helmut Schmidt to Olof Palme, our political family has defined the European Social model and has fought for a deeper integration of member states, overcoming obstacles and crises along the way. I know that we can do the same again now.

European Progressive summit

On 12 March, socialist and democratic Heads of State and Government will meet in Paris, by invitation from President François Hollande, to address the difficult challenges that Europe is facing.

We have to reshape the European Union to generate growth and employment. We have to create opportunities for more and better jobs.

We have to develop a greener, more innovative economy – one where economic value is generated hand in hand with social value.

We need public investment because the economic transition we have to carry out needs the support of us all, for the benefit of us all.

We therefore call on Europe to make use of the flexibility it is allowed for stimulating public investment while ensuring responsible budgetary management.

We ask the Eurozone to explore the idea of a Eurozone budget to increase our resilience in fighting future economic shocks.

Our aim is to achieve social cohesion. All existing tools must be used towards this end, the European Fund of Strategic Investment, the Capital Market Union and the Banking Union.

We stand for structural reforms that promote equal and cohesive societies. We want our tax systems to be fair and redistributive.

We believe that the much envied European Social Model must not be put in jeopardy.

We must strike the right balance between ensuring the sustainability of public finances and the welfare state.

More social Europe

But, above all, we need to provide hope for the future and invest in future generations. We should look for mechanisms similar to the youth guarantee, which have already shown promising results in tackling youth unemployment.

Our children, our youngsters, should be at the centre of our political action. If someone needs an extra motivation to act more determinedly for more Europe, for more social Europe, let them find their motivation in our children. We are now defining the European Union they will inherit.

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