Editorial from the January 2018 edition of The Progressive Post
This time things mights be different. The 2019 European elections are drawing ever closer, but, before they take place, a sequence of key, long awaited decisions might be taken and reshape the the face of the EU. The overlapping of crises in 2016 was such – financial, social, terrorism, refugees, Brexit – that a roadmap for the future of the EU was launched after a Rome Declaration in March 2017, recognising that we need to go beyond a single market and a monetary zone. Once and for all, the EU needs to assert itself as a political democratic power with an economic, social and cultural dimension and as a continent supporting international cooperation and the multilateral system in face of the new global challenges. This became even clearer when Trump’s election as President of the USA pushed the world towards becoming a more multipolar order.
The EU should promote new trade agreements with other parts of the world, provided they respect sustainable development goals, including better social standards and public services.
This new EU roadmap must be led by progressive forces to deliver on citizens’ expectations. Yes, the EU should promote new trade agreements with other parts of the world, provided they respect sustainable development goals, including better social standards and public services. Yes, migration should be managed on a European scale, provided that peace and development of the countries of origin is better supported by the EU and its responsibility to protect refugees is really met with a European asylum system.
All of these challenges can only be met if the internal cohesion of the EU is strengthened first of all via the comprehensive implementation of the European Social Pillar. Everyone in employment should, irrespective of their type of job, be able to rely on a decent labour contract and access to skills and to social protection. This is also particularly important for young people and in the new jobs that are being created by the digital economy. And more quality jobs must be created with an investment strategy driven by sustainable development goals and in line with the Paris agreement on climate change.
But all these policies are only feasible if EU Member States have the means to invest. This starts with the eurozone where the Banking Union must be completed and where a fiscal capacity must be developed to complement national budgets. Otherwise, the current economic, social and political divergences will continue.
Moreover, these new European public goods can only be delivered if they count on an EU multi-annual budget oriented towards the future and of the necessary size. This leads us to the need for new budgetary resources, which should come from other sources of taxation, be that on financial transactions, on carbon emissions or on digital operations in the European single market.
A central priority in this EU roadmap is to ensure that, whatever happens, basic democratic standards, fundamental rights and the rule of law are fully respected. Deviations from these standards simply cannot be accepted and violations of these standards must be rigorously dealt with.
Progressive forces should unite to change the direction of the European Union and to re-engage with citizens’ needs by inventing new solutions. The conservative and neo-liberal mantra has led to fragmentation and the emergence of nationalist and xenophobic forces claiming that they are the ones who can protect people. This a big and dangerous illusion. In this global era, real protection requires the European level and progressive European solutions to complement national ones!