The decision of Britain to leave the EU puts the European idea to a test. We have to openly discuss the state of our Union, and the way forward. It is our responsibility to offer bold solutions to the pressing challenges facing all European citizens.
Nationalist and anti-European forces are exploiting people’s insecurities and seek the end of the European project by spurring isolationism and division amongst the European partners.
We need to stand together and confront them head-on. Whether we address migration, the economy, globalisation, climate change, security threats or Britain’s exit from the EU, what the people of Europe need is unity, solidarity and political vision. The European Movement International will continue to strive for a united, fair, diverse, open and prosperous Europe that puts the common interest above petty divisions, and that answers the needs of its citizens.
We believe that our Union needs:
Meaningful participation and transparency
Improving citizens’ trust in politics and policy-making at the national and European level is crucial to building legitimate European policies. Transparency, meaningful participation of citizens and civil society in the decision-making process, and full democratic scrutiny of policies and institutions by the European Parliament are necessary to close the perceived gap between the EU on the one hand, and citizens and representative organisations on the other hand. Concretely, this should entail the full implementation of Article 11 of the Lisbon Treaty, the introduction of structured consultations with equal access for all stakeholders, and a mandatory transparency register for lobbyists. Furthermore, it should encompass innovations in the European elections that will strengthen the link between parties and the European public. Such innovations should include the establishment of a transnational list, more visible European political parties, the introduction of e-voting and the extension of the voting age to 16. But above all we need a proper debate on European issues ahead of European elections, with parties able to link their policies at the European level with citizens’ needs at the local level.
Prosperity, economic stability, and social protection
Europe’s economic growth, the stability of the euro and social protection of its citizens can only be ensured with an improved and comprehensive Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Increased budgetary and fiscal coordination, a fiscal capacity based on own resources for counter-cyclical policies, and a social dimension mainstreamed into the overall EMU governance structure are essential elements to maintain and improve our prosperity, economic stability, and social rights. The social dimension should include common social convergence criteria, a minimum support scheme, parameters for minimum wages and minimum income, and the integration of social policy objectives into macroeconomic and budgetary surveillance mechanisms. Furthermore, a system of European Economic Governance based on the Community method and subject to democratic checks and balances is necessary to increase the democratic accountability of the EMU.
A common market that works for everyone
A consolidation and extension of the Single Market is needed to ensure the sustainable economic development of Europe. We need to improve the way our market works for business, small and big, by removing barriers to trade and citizens, by safeguarding social, consumer, and environmental protection. In particular, the completion of the Energy union will ensure Europe’s supply with secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy. The Single Market should be to the benefit of all European citizens and we must ensure that we do not go backwards on hard-fought for rights. Initiatives such as the Digital Single Market are very welcome from the perspective of jobs and growth, if they pursue the interests of all Europeans through the development of new skills, support for the workforce, and an improved business climate for SMEs, social enterprises and start-ups. Trade agreements such as TTIP can only succeed if the concerns of all stakeholders are thoroughly and openly recognised and addressed.
Open borders and freedom of movement
Freedom of movement and the removal of internal border controls through the Schengen Agreement have played a significant role in breaking down barriers for trade and labour mobility. The freedom to live, study, work and retire anywhere in Europe is the most tangible success of European integration; it is a defining feature of the EU and key for the economic prosperity of our continent. It has also contributed to greater cultural understanding between the peoples of Europe through travel and the exchange of ideas, goods, services and best practices. The unravelling of Schengen will neither make Europe stronger nor more able to solve its problems. Gaps and concerns in the current system can be addressed, however, through the joint management of Europe’s outer border, investment in intelligence gathering and sharing, and a sound Common European Immigration and Asylum System. In all existing and new measures, EU citizens’ rights and those of refugees and asylum seekers should be fully respected.
Security and a strong international position
In an increasingly competitive global environment, speaking with one voice to represent the interests of the European Union is crucial. A joint message and common strategy are needed to respond to the ongoing and future security challenges, as well as increased defence cooperation both in existing and new areas, such as cybersecurity. The stability of the European Union is also dependent on stability in its neighbourhood. Enlargement has been a very successful instrument in neutralising instability at Europe’s borders, and expanding the prosperity, democracy and the rule of law across Europe. A credible enlargement perspective and long-term vision on the investment in peace and security can bring about positive change in the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership countries, and offer a clear outlook for their citizens.
The integrity and defence of European values and rights
The founding values of the European Union – respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights – form the pillars of European cooperation. Membership of the EU must be intimately linked with continuous adherence to these principles. Violations of these values cannot be accepted and should carry with it sanctions, enforceable jointly by the European Parliament and the Council, following the recommendation of the European Commission. The European Union can only safeguard its standing and reach its objectives if it ensures that its core principles will not be compromised. The same should apply to certain social, employment, environmental and human rights that should be linked to EU citizenship, guaranteed by the EU and stand inalienable and irreversible by national governments.