Friday

23rd Feb 2018

Stakeholder

We must renew Europe for all Europeans

  • Left to right: Yonnec Polet, PES; Giorgos Katrougalos, Greece (observer); and Ministers of European Affairs - Ana Birchall, Romania; Sandro Gozi, Italy; Harlem Désir, France; Margarida Marques, Portugal; and Michael Roth, Germany. (Photo: Maurice Weiss for the Party of European Socialists)

Sixty years ago, the people of Europe laid the foundations of the European Union - one of the most successful forces for peace, democracy, freedom, equality, prosperity and solidarity.

It has had more than its fair share of success stories. There is a lot to be proud of and a lot to be celebrated, but none of this can be taken for granted, and none of it is perfect.

Our world is changing enormously. Nationalism is on the march. Populist tensions are resurging. Distracted by narrow national interests, we risk losing sight of common priorities and solidarity among member states.

The European Union is perceived as being unable to tackle the current challenges. The trust of European voters is being eroded, and the very foundations of our community are being challenged.

More value-based union

We are at a crossroads. We will only succeed in relaunching the EU if we take the direction of a more social, more just, more value-based Union now.

As European affairs ministers from progressive parties, we have always stood for democracy, solidarity and fundamental rights. These values are at the heart of our shared European identity and they are the foundation on which we must build.

Trust can only be restored by promoting genuine equality, fairness and social justice among the entire populace of Europe. Social progress must always mean upward convergence.

First, after years of economic stagnation, we need to put our economies back on track in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner, taking into account the digital transition.

As progressives in Europe, we have already successfully pushed for more investment, and for an approach which does not only aim for fiscal consolidation, but also prioritises growth and investment.

Re-balancing policies

Re-balancing these policies is not only in line with good management of public budgets, it also strengthens their sustainability.

We will continue to do so, to create upward social and economic convergence both among and within member states, and inclusive and sustainable growth. We will fight for fairness, including fiscal justice, and we will tackle tax fraud and evasion.

We will step up our efforts to turn the euro into a driver for growth and convergence in the European Union by complementing and reforming the current Economic and Monetary Union.

It is high time we make our European Union into a social union, with strong workers' rights, gender equality, secure jobs and income, and tough measures to tackle youth unemployment, wage inequality and vast differences in living standards and social security.

We want a minimum wage in all member states, while respecting national practices and the role of social partners in each country. We must work closely with these social partners to develop social protection and a welfare state that meets the needs of fast-changing economies. And we must not tolerate social dumping, wherever it occurs.

Rome declaration

For all of the reasons above, we want a strong European Union social pillar to be included in the forthcoming Rome declaration, and we look forward to taking new steps for fair jobs and inclusive growth when Europe's leaders meet for a major social summit in Sweden at the end of this year.

Social rights and inclusion in the EU must be fundamental to the single market, not just an afterthought. The EU's unique promise is for a model that combines economic growth with social security.

We need more coherence in our policies to keep this promise alive. This means developing the single market further, reforming our economies and consolidating public budgets. In doing so, we must always take the social impact of our policies into account, and ask whether we stick to the goals we have set for ourselves.

For example, we have still not achieved our aim of a 75% employment rate, reached our target for investment in research and education, or reduced gender inequality or the poverty rate to the level we all agreed on.

Prioritise social security and social rights

Thus, as progressives we will push further to re-balance our coordinated European policies to prioritise social security and social rights.

Europe must be relentless in supporting and defending democracy and the rule of law, both on our continent and abroad. If violations are confirmed, there should be consequences.

Furthermore, we should position ourselves as international frontrunners on these issues – especially in an era where international action on climate change, sustainability and security are being jeopardised by isolationist tendencies. A progressive Europe should set its own standards and demand equally high standards from its partners.

We must act to manage the refugee crisis. Europe has always been a continent of migration. We are determined to defend our values, as we always have, with a humanitarian, strong and efficient European asylum policy that includes fair responsibility-sharing mechanisms.

We must also work with our neighbouring countries and other partners to tackle the root causes of migration, not just manage its effects. At the same time, it is crucial that we reinforce the control of our common external borders with the new European Corps of Border Guards.

The safety and security of Europe's citizens is a top priority, but it can only be guaranteed through cooperation and transparency. A common approach is the best way, especially in the fight against terrorism acting transnationally. But we must also fight to protect what we value in our societies – tolerance, openness and human rights – from those who would seek to undermine it.

Europe of tomorrow

One thing is certain: the Europe of tomorrow will not be the same as the Europe of yesterday. New shared challenges – geopolitical shifts, widespread digitalisation and the green transition – require new shared solutions. We need not fear new challenges if we stand united.

But we observe different levels of ambition among member states in developing the EU further to meet these challenges, not only as a result of Brexit. The level playing field is crystal clear: we have a treaty that applies to everyone, and that leaves room for some member states to work more closely if a particular issue can be solved better together.

We are convinced that common solutions and concrete results are the best way to deal with the current widespread critique.

Today's nationalistic tendencies will not solve any of these challenges. The EU is our answer to this globalised world and we will defend it against all threats past, present and future.

Signed by:

Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, France

Tomáš Prouza, State Secretary for European Affairs, Czech Republic

Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, Germany

Louis Grech, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Affairs and Implementation of the Electoral Manifesto, Malta

Sandro Gozi, State Secretary for European Affairs, Italy

Margarida Marques, State Secretary for European Affairs, Portugal

Giorgos Katrougalos (observer), Alternate Foreign Affairs Minister for European Affairs, Greece

Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

Socialists dismiss EU parliament unity plea

Socialist leader Gianni Pittella rejects a call for continued cooperation from his centre-right counterpart, in a dispute that threatens the balance of power in the house.

Social Europe on the Horizon

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.

Behind the scenes of the Nordic model

The Nordic is comprised of 74 regions and, combined, is the 12th largest economy in the world. The State of the Nordic Region 2018 gives a unique look behind the scenes of the world's most integrated region.

Stakeholders' Views

This EUobserver section provides a platform for EU stakeholders to communicate positions, views and activities.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  2. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  3. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  4. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired
  5. Luxembourg and Ireland pay highest minimum wages
  6. Freedom of expression under threat in Spain, warn MEPs
  7. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  8. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  2. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  4. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  5. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  7. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  8. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  10. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  11. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  2. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  3. European far-right political party risks collapse
  4. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table
  5. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  6. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  7. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  8. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC President Warns Europe as Holocaust Memory Fades
  2. European Free AlllianceNo Justice From the Spanish Supreme Court Ruling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  6. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  7. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  9. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  10. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society