SOLIDAR Annual General Assembly Statement: Social Justice – The compass for the next five years
Europe finds itself at a historic crossroads. Since the establishment of the first common institutions, the continent has seen peace, prosperity and progress. However, the very foundations of our common project are endangered by rising populism and nationalism. This development is not merely a European matter, for on the world-wide scale even sustainable development has been cast aside in favour of short-term crisis management leading to increasing inequalities and precarious living and working conditions. The mandate ahead for the European institutions will determine the future of the European Union. This future must be founded on social justice in order to sustain democracy.
Against the backdrop of increased fragmentation in the European Parliament and the revamped group of the far-right, there is also a brighter side to the outcome of the European elections. The increased turnout, for instance, supported also by a joint effort of CSOs, like SOLIDAR and SOLIDAR Foundation, who joined the campaign launched by the European Parliament #ThistimeImvoting. We supported our members through mobilisation materials with a three-fold aim: to support efforts to overcome indifference, to mobilise for a progressive agenda, and finally to vote against the dangers of anti-European and new fascists gaining ground in too many EU countries. A second positive outcome is that in the end the far-right didn’t get enough votes to block institutional processes at the EU level. Nevertheless, democracy is still under threat. The fragmentation of the EP is a result of the objections that citizens are expressing towards the status quo, including political parties and the responsiveness and functioning of the EU institutions.Rising inequalities have torn apart social cohesion, individualism has nurtured egoism and undermined the idea that solidarity-based policies drive society towards a better future.
Civil Society Organisations are the pulse of society. Civil Dialogue is even more important now: citizens and the EU institutions who are supposed to represent them are unable to reinforce democracy alone and seem unable to dialogue for social progress. Civil Dialogue, complementary to Social Dialogue, is the means to integrate social forces into policy making, to include citizens in the decision-making process and finally deliver the policies that are needed to make our society sustainable.
SOLIDAR’s manifesto called for Social Justice. Now that the elections are over, we will be watchdogs for the mandate ahead to make it the priority of the upcoming work plan: for building inclusive societies, thus adopting a human rights-based approach for the reception and integration of migrants and centring the MFF on social investment – including for education and lifelong learning; for building learning societies where people living in Europe are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be active in society and cope with the ongoing transformations; for just societies, fighting tax evasion, tax avoidance and corruption of financial social investment; for international solidarity and the new EU Action Plan on Democracy and Human Rights to have a strong focus on Economic and Social Rights, namely on freedom of association, and identify concrete measures to actively promote them in its development, trade and political relations with partner countries.
It is time to relaunch the European project as a truly fair and sustainable structure that has at its core the protection and well-being of all its citizens. At stake is the democratic dimension of our society. Organised civil society across Europe is ready to stand to defend and advance social and societal progress!