If people have any sense of civic engagement, there is certainly an opportunity to show it on Sunday 24 March: beat the streets for Europe, not for an abstract project, but rather for a project that allows social progress, increases social justice and does not divide the people. Our Europe is not the conservative Europe which puts the internal market and market freedoms first, that refuses to regulate financial markets, that closes its eyes to rule of law violations in some Member States. The nightmare scenario, and a likely one, would be a tacit agreement between the right, the far right and the extreme right. We only have one chance to prevent this: mobilise! Convince your colleagues, friends, family, your daily environment to opt for the alternative.
A new project on sustainable development, with sustainability at every level has been outlined. Some of the details need to be firmed up, certainly, but it is an outline of where Europe’s future policy is heading. Politicians know that you win elections with a vision, a project, and they know also that they are judged on whether their commitments and promises are kept. A former French minister and conservative politician said once “promises are binding only for those who believe in them”. Greater cynicism is difficult to find. However people are sceptical even when they have a generally positive attitude towards Europe.
Europe is not a conservative project per se, nor is it the property of the conservatives. The welfare promise is not “opium for the people”. It has be taken seriously and we can prove that progressives (including in the broader sense) can and must make the difference, as the last few years have also shown: defending civil and civic liberties, looking for a European solution to migration, developing a vision of social investment instead of the blind austerity that has proven to be ineffective. Portugal has shown that such choices make a difference. It was the progressives and their allies in the union movement and civil society who engaged for a real European pillar of social rights and who are actively committed to ensure its realisation. Progressives make a difference by driving a progressive economy, with the defence and promotion of decent work for a decent life.
Conservatives are after all conservative, aiming to keep their power which they sometimes think is their natural heritage. Now we have to shift the policy centre to the left in order to be able to contain and counter the Orbans, Salvinis and others of their ilk. This means being aware that the solutions and concepts of the past need to be adapted in times of increasing individualism and egoism, in times of hate campaigns through social media. This is why it is worth mobilising and supporting progressives. Political change and progressive reforms do not fall into our laps.
If you do not want to do it for yourself, do it for the next generations, for the Gretas and to preserve the prospect of a future together. The 2019 European elections are not just a vote. Get up, stand up! A Europe of solidarity is possible! See you on 24 March!