Civil society actors have moved quickly to publish a critical assessment of the EU Council's new strategic agenda, fuelling further controversy about the scale and ambition of the plan.
The EU Council's New Strategic Agenda lists border protection and economic development as top priorities followed by climate change.
The EU’s role in the world as a global standard setter is the fourth area listed.
Environmental groups and policy-makers have given an angry reception to the low priority accorded to climate change and the failure to agree even a carbon neutral target for 2050.
Lack of any detail on social policies is also an area of concern.
The European Civic Forum (ECF), a transnational organisation of over 100 NGO, has sent an urgent letter to MEPs to express concern about the challenges facing Europe and the responses proposed by Heads of States.
Speaking in Brussels ahead of the coming European Council meeting to decide the “top jobs”, ECF President Jean-Marc Roirant said:
"How can our societies neglect putting those who feel left behind at the centre of public policies?"
"Those who feel left behind cannot identify with such a European project.
We need a strategic programme built on access to fundamental rights for all.”
In a consultation document entitled Make Europe Great for All, the ECF has called for “a truly inclusive Europe that serves the people and the environment" and a re-draft of the strategic agenda to better respond to the challenges of globalization.
Raffaella Bolini, International Director of the Italian NGO ARCI and a Vice-President of the ECF said
“Europe is not under threat from migrants; the real danger facing Europe is inequality, both within the EU and globally.”
Commenting on the latest developments, Roger Casale, founder of New Europeans and also a Vice- President of ECF said:
“The EU council leaders like to say our biggest threats come from outside Europe – but there are may threats to European democracy that come from the inside, too."
One of the biggest threats is the lack of social cohesion in Europe.
Let's also remember that we cannot speak about a Europe of citizens until we live in a Europe of equal rights - we are still a very long way from that in Europe today."