The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

As the European Parliament gets set to break for recess and Brussels heads off on holiday, now is the time for looking back, reflecting, and moving forward!

Looking back, the first half of 2017 has presented social Europe with a huge opportunity in the shape of the European Pillar of Social Rights. But to ensure it doesn’t suffer the same fate as the Europe 2020 Strategy, it’s vital to turn the hopes and aspirations of the Pillar into reality. The second half of the year will determine whether the Pillar is a milestone to advance the EU’s social agenda, or simply a smoke-screen to distract us from the trickle-down economics that have shaped recent years, leading to even more inequalities and poverty in the future.

As 2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, it has been a time of deep reflection on the future of Europe – European Commission President Juncker got in on the game with the release of his five scenarios. Over 230 civil society organisations and trade unions joined together to release a common position on the Europe we want. The challenge now is whether we can work as one to push forward this shared agenda without succumbing to individual concerns. Stay tuned!

What is clear already from 2017 is that, moving forward, our success will be determined by our ability to bring Europe closer to people. As the new Director of Social Platform I’m extremely happy that we prioritise meeting national members and partners to learn more about the work they are doing on the ground, and how EU policies can support them. My first such visit was to Madrid in May, where we met a number of organisations to learn more about the great work of social economy enterprises. It served to remind me of the importance of working for and with people in Europe – it is they who need to be the source and objectives of our actions.

I’m sure that the second half of 2017 will be no less busy that the first, with much more looking back, reflecting and moving forward to be done! At times it feels as though we can’t see the wood for the trees, but in the words of Lao Tzu we must never forget that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So for now it’s time to take a step back, breathe, and recharge our batteries!

Happy summer!

Kélig Puyet, Director of Social Platform