Championing the “soul” of Europe

While Europe’s “soul” was a recurring theme throughout European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the EU speech, she focused on so many different topics that it was not very clear what this soul is. For me, it’s creating a Europe of rights and opportunities, where all people can prosper and live a fulfilled life, regardless of who they are, where they’re from, or whom they love. Sadly, there’s lots of evidence proving that this still isn’t the case for many people: for example, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency found 42% of LGBTI people they surveyed have been discriminated against on account of their identity in the last 12 months, whether it be at work, at the doctor, or simply while trying to enjoy a coffee at a café.

Social Platform strengthens the soul of Europe in various ways, including through the Group of Social Pillar Champions in the European Parliament. This group, being launched next month, brings together Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who are the most vocal and visible supporters of social rights for people across the whole EU and who want to work together with us on building a more social Europe. Find out more about the group on our website. If you know an MEP who could be interested, invite them to join – and if you are an MEP, get in touch to learn more or sign-up here!

Responding to people’s needs

One of the reasons we’re working so closely with MEPs on this is because it’s at the heart of what their communities want. A recent Eurobarometer survey highlighted that 88% of Europeans consider a social Europe to be important to them. The issues that people expect their representatives to deliver on are those that have a real impact on their lives – having a job with decent wages and good working conditions or getting quality health care, to name just two. If the EU doesn’t listen, people will continue to see it as far from their everyday lives and will get increasingly disengaged. Even worse, people will turn to populist politicians who falsely promise easy – and sometimes undemocratic – solutions to complicated challenges.

It’s for all these reasons that the EU institutions and Member States need to put the social rights set on paper front and centre and make sure that people can actually enjoy them. It takes a village, aka every actor, including regional and local authorities, trade unions, employers’ representatives, and civil society organisations to talk to each other, learn from each other and work together to find solutions to the social inequalities people experience all across Europe.