Against the background of rising inequalities, precariousness, decreasing solidarity and diminishing trust in the EU integration process, President Juncker decided to give us some hope by presenting a sixth scenario based on the three untouchable values of Freedom, Equality and the Rule of Law which are the foundations of our Union. Sometimes progress requires extra courage and bold proposals.
This year’s #SOTEU started off on a very positive note. The consequences of the economic crisis are slowly fading into the past and with growth settling in, further improvements can and must be made. The Commission President - to our regret in an all-male discussion - considers the upcoming 16 months to be the moment “to catch the wind in our sails” to present the final 20 per cent of initiatives.
SOLIDAR expects real progress towards a more social and sustainable Union, a Europe that does not leave anyone behind and champions the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
SOLIDAR welcomes the call to make the EU more transparent, flexible and efficient, by increasing areas of Qualified Majority Voting, as this would help overcome the decision-making ‘impasse’ caused by the increasingly divergent views within the Council and would allow Europe to move further towards upward social convergence. The call to transform the European Stability Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund with a European Economy and Finance Minister is also a step in the right direction. Indeed, as President Juncker said, the Social Summit in Gothenburg in November should be the moment to agree on a strong European Pillar of Social Rights for all.
Moreover, in an EU that wants to promote equality, we should make sure that all EU rules on labour mobility are enforced in a fair and effective way. The proposal for a new European inspection and enforcement body (a common Labour Authority), would be a very good first step for a fairer EU labour market.
Migration remains high on the agenda. Solidarity and shared-responsibility are recognised as paramount when it comes to managing the migration flows. As President Juncker said, the relocation scheme has been a valid and effective tool to make solidarity among Member States a reality. SOLIDAR regrets that the Council has decided to not prolong the scheme and calls for a revision of this decision.
Yes, the EU is a common project that has ensured 60 years of peace, democracy and the rule of law but not social progress for all! Taking into account the recent developments at EU and global level, this cannot be taken for granted.
Mr. Juncker, this may be Europe’s #LastShot!
For more civil society’s reactions on President Juncker’s State of the Union speech, see below: