Don't let idea of social Europe become a footnote to history

Blue skies, but not much in the way of blue sky thinking
Blue skies, but not much in the way of blue sky thinking

International Civil Society Forum, Bucharest, 4 June 2019
International Civil Society Forum, Bucharest, 4 June 2019

Is the EU's strategic plan, which was agreed by European leaders at the EU Council in Brussels on 21 June, fit for purpose?

A New Strategic Agenda, 2019-2024

A leaked copy of the draft caused controversy when it made tackling climate change only a third level priority, behind measures to counter illegal immigration and boost the economy.

Commenting on the EU Council's failure to secure a commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050, Wendel Trio, DirectorCAN Europe  said:

"Failure to set new, higher EU climate targets is irresponsible given the climate emergency we are facing. EU leaders need to urgently come back to the negotiating table."

A reference to a "large majority of member states" wanting to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 was relegated to a footnote - at one point it was left out altogether before being reinstated.

It seems climate activists still have to battle to include serious commitments in the small print of EU summit conclusions.

And this has to be done, despite the 'Green Wave' at the European elections and the phenomenon that is the Fridays for Future movement inspired by Greta Thunberg.

Civil society organisations have called for a strategy focussed on the protection of fundamental rights, the protection of minorities and vulnerable groups, the scaling up of policies to create a more social Europe and the empowerment of citizens.

The European Civic Forum, a transnational network of over 100 NGOs in 28 member states said in its pre-election manifesto Make Europe Great for All that:

"More and more people feel they have been or soon will be 'left behind'. They are anxious about their future and have lost trust in the political system."

In a statement prior to the Council meeting, the European Civic Forum called on the EU to radically change direction, stating:

"We need policies which make Europe sustainable for present and future generations and ensure equal access to fundamental rights"

Roger Casale, the founder and General Secretary of New Europeans and a Vice-President of the European Civic Forum said:

"It seems that the EU council has listened and there are clearer references in the strategic plan to European values and the defence of our fundamental rights as well as to the need to create a social Europe an not just a single market.

However it remains to be seen how deep these commitment run. 

It will be up to us, the citizens to make sure that the idea of a social Europe does not end up as a footnote in history.

As with climate change, we urgently need to put tackling social exclusion at the heart of the EU's strategy for the future."



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