Today European leaders are meeting in Sibiu/Romania. There are some clear quests across the EU that European leaders are failing to respond to. The meeting was supposed to be the conclusion of the so-called Future of Europe process, which started in 2017 as a reaction to Brexit. And yet the conclusion is based on exclusion and conservatism in terms of responding to citizens’ demands for a better representation.
Two years ago, European institutions and leaders agreed to thoroughly analyze the reasons behind Brexit and find solutions to move the EU project forward by responding to the demand of protection expressed by the many left behind by a globalisation process went out of political control.
The analysis falls short. In the anniversary of the end of WWII, citizens do not feel reassured but worried. Nationalism is rising, fueled by the lack of action to tackle inequalities and to fix broken social mobility mechanisms.
The Commission’s paper states that their “efforts have delivered tangible results for citizens”. Still, citizens often have a different perception. As we know, the traditional indicators don’t fully represent the social realities, which are more and more polarized and fragmented.
Creating jobs is one thing, creating decent work with living wages another one. And when citizens see that a system is not really delivering, the risk is that they turn away from it. We might have a cruel wake up the morning after the European elections, however there will not be any excuse – warnings were there and loud.
The Commission proposes their 5 priority recommendations: Protective, competitive, fair, sustainable and influential Europe. The paper raises one question: “how to communicate effectively across a whole continent in times of increasing fragmentation and disinformation?” We could offer a solution: finally acknowledge the role of civil society as corps intermediaire thus as your interlocutor, as enshrined in article 11 of the Treaty.
At times when representative democracy is failing to deliver representation, the participatory elements of our democracy must be encouraged and supported. Civil Society Organisations should have not only be present but charged with a leading role in Sibiu, where the quest for better representation was supposed to be answered, not dodged. It is not matter of consultation nor communication, it is matter of dialogue.