Europe finds itself at a historic junction. In the last 60 years after signing the Treaty of Rome, the continent has seen peace, prosperity and progress. However, the very foundations of our common project have been called into question by rising populism and nationalism. This is not merely a European matter: on a world-wide scale, inclusive sustainable development has been tossed aside in favour of short-term crisis management, inducing increasing inequalities and precarious living and working conditions.
In contrast, SOLIDAR as a progressive civil society network has a different vision for our common future!
The promises of just globalisation have been eroded by a recent obsession with austerity driven policies combined with the financialisation of our economies, the economisation of social, cultural and education sectors and the “launch” of a new arms race. The pursuit of policies to erase economic, social and cultural rights, reduce social development expenditure and investment for the benefit of the happy few rather than communities at large has had a devastating effect on people’s trust in democracy, deliberative decision making and established institutions, including the European institutions. People feel the need for change and require protection in uncertain times. Unfortunately, right wing and populist movements (represented by people like Trump, Duterte, Putin, al-Assad, Orban, Kaczynski, Erdogan and others) are abusing this sentiment to gain support and retract from our common future, locking people in nationalist, racist and even violent rhetoric that has disastrous effects.
Change is needed, but only the kind of change and transitions that will restore peace, prosperity and progress. Key parts of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offer this transformational and universal framework for our common future and provide sustainable responses to today’s challenges. It brings us back to the pursuit of equality of income, knowledge and power, making our social justice cause distinct from neoliberal and illiberal tendencies. For that reason the SOLIDAR board meets in Rome in the midst of the pro-Europe mobilisation celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, reminding leaders that their predecessors united in their resolve to “….confirm the solidarity which binds Europe and the overseas countries and desiring to ensure the development of their prosperity…” and call upon them to change course.
The time has come not for a new narrative, but for a change of policies to rebuild citizens’ trust in a renewed European integration project which is more than only Treaty and institutional changes.
Change needs to be based on solidarity, equality and social justice. Our vision for a common European future is built on social justice touchstones for Europe and world-wide that include:
Photo © European Communities , 1992 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service