The Euro crisis, austerity policies, BREXIT and the refuge/immigration crisis, among other factors, have led to the EU’s work model, its viability and the future of Europe being questioned by Eurosceptic or Europhobic parties. Nearly half of citizens do not trust the European institutions, and people also show low levels of confidence in their own country’s institutions.
A Social Europe reality is put in doubt by the persistence of poverty and exclusion of almost a quarter of the population.
EAPN must be involved in the discussion on the Future of Europe because there is much at stake. The Position Paper presents a detailed analysis of the main issues starting from the public’s point of view. Furthermore, it looks at the Scenarios for the Future of Europe and the need of an alternative, social and sustainable solution to achieve a fairer European Union.
‘My dream is for Europe to agree on the same system of assessing pension and for people who have to rely on pensions to be able to live a dignified life…’ (PeP Meeting 2017)
The Europe 2020 Strategy not only has not reached its goal in terms of eradicating poverty, but has been replaced before its deadline: can the new European Pillar of Social Rights be a way to recover Social Europe? Despite some verbal comments from the European Commission, the reference document does not include any role for civil society, meaning a step backwards in the governance of these issues. On the other hand, the lack of goals and mechanisms for the implementation of the Pillar generate uncertainty over how far national, regional and local governments will adhere to it.
Social Europe does not seem to have a prominent place within the “five scenarios for Europe” proposed by President Juncker. For this reason, social and environmental NGOs agreed on a “sixth” scenario, based on sustainable and inclusive development. Relying on the overall sentiment of solidarity and optimism about the European future, and especially given the conclusions arising from the EAPN Meetings of People experiencing Poverty, EAPN must get involved in the discussion.
In the next elections of 2019, the composition of a new European Parliament will be decided, without the United Kingdom, and the political future of the EU will be redefined. We have a lot of work ahead, if we want to achieve a more sustainable, more social, and fairer European Union!
Proposals for a Social Europe
The distribution of wealth is increasingly unequal and employment is no longer the pathway to social inclusion for several million Europeans, who have a job and, despite this, live in poverty. For these reasons, EAPN makes several proposals for a fairer Europe:
- Inclusive employment;
- Decent, fair and stable work for all and especially for young people;
- Effective public social services and a comprehensive and quality social support;
- Decent pensions;
- An effective and adequate guaranteed income standard;
- Economic benefits for children;
- Extensive and quality healthcare, both in rural and urban areas;
- Extensive and quality educational investment;
- Attention to the most vulnerable groups;
- A broad offer of social housing;
- A set of comprehensive affirmative actions;
- An effective tax reform at European level, with social equity;
- A newer and more effective civil society participation.