“For our citizens to be protected we need to protect the EU first”. This was the main message delivered on 16 January at the European Parliament by Pedro Sanchez, who accompanied it with many bold proposals for the Future of Europe. In fact, action is needed to ensure that freedom, rule of law and progress, the values that inspired Spaniards during the darkest hours of Spanish democracy, in Sanchez’s words, stay protected and can further advance Europeans’ life standards.
The European Union has to bolster the schemes and measures for supporting opportunities for young people, not least by strengthening its industrial fabric in a just transition able to confirm the commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.
SOLIDAR fully agrees with Pedro Sanchez when he calls on all the EU institutions to pursue with determination a progressive approach towards the existential questions that the EU is currently trapped within. We welcome the Spanish Prime Minister’s encouragement and appraisal of the CSOs who protect the fundamental values of our society on a daily basis and we agree with the condemnation of those who only look inward and claim that solutions to today’s problems are to be found in the past. History has shown that moving backwards has never been a viable solution and has only led to defeats over the centuries. Sanchez is right - we should ask the nostalgic politicians whether peace was any more robust when borders divided the European people and if social protection was any stronger, or whether people were enjoying more rights. Was there more and better social cohesion?
We all know the answer to these questions. That’s why solutions are to be found by working together - starting with a joint solution for the management of migration flows. The Global Compact, praised by Pedro Sanchez, is the first step towards a multilateral approach to migration flows that must be addressed together with Africa and never against it. Africa is the future, and only by working together with African countries in solidarity we can embrace progress for all.
The political agenda shouldn’t be about managing emergencies, rather policies should be aimed at addressing structural issues before they become an emergency. The EU failed in this with the migration flows. It failed also at delivering sound social policies able to protect its people, especially the most vulnerable ones, from the financial crisis. Austerity was an unforgivable mistake.
Now, with the Proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, we cannot afford to lose another opportunity. By making the Pillar binding and fully implementing it, starting with the Work-Life Balance Directive and the Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions, we can enable young Europeans to envision their opportunities in the future - not the threats. Sanchez said also that we shouldn’t give in to the notion that the young generation is doomed to live in worse conditions than the previous ones. This is not what progress is. It’s not what the EU was created for.
Strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union by bolstering its social dimension is the next key step that the EU has to take. And it should be done by placing citizens at the centre of the discussion, making them feel part of it for real, to help recover trust in the European institutions and European democracy itself.
SOLIDAR welcomes the bold proposals put forward by the Spanish government. A vision for progress that encompasses the concept of sustainability when addressing the root causes for inequalities and a blueprint for social justice to be once more the compass for the European agenda. In solidarity and for progress for all. Because the EU was never and never will be the threat to diversity that nationalists like to sell, but its shield and booster in face of the process of globalisation.