As both a Pole and an adopted Brit, today is a very strange day for me. Of course, we have known for quite a while that Brexit will take place on 31 January 2020. The final vote in the European Parliament on Wednesday was really a formality to sign it off, no longer prolong the process and avoid hard Brexit. Following the activity on Twitter, I came across a post from Michael Bloss MEP (Greens), who said, “I had tears in my eyes when I voted in favour for our friends from Britain to leave the EU.” With a notable exception of some flag-waving nationalists, I think most MEPs must have felt the same!
After today, by one of my passports, I remain an EU citizen, by the other, I no longer am. However, who I do remain, most of all, is a European. The MEPs, joining their hands and wearing ‘Always United’ scarves, to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ together, was very moving, because it reaffirmed that despite political changes, the values of solidarity, equality, justice and human compassion, will persevere in Europe. Personally, this makes me feel optimistic. And professionally, I am also optimistic, because I am part of Social Platform, driven by a diverse membership of networks, who themselves I am sure will continue to work with and support many of their national members in the UK.
This year, as you know, is a very important and exciting one for Social Platform. We are 25 years young! I say young on purpose, because as a network, we need to continue to evolve and grow, to be able to respond to the political, social and environmental changes happening around us. With our members and partners, we need to ensure that we advocate for investment in social policies and services that will make our societies and economies not only more resilient, but more socially just, cohesive and inclusive, leaving no one behind and recognising that every member of our communities has a role to play.
Investment in people is crucial. In that context, earlier this week, together with Brando Benifei MEP, we co-hosted a debate in the European Parliament on how ESF+ can support the effective implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights through legislation and policies at EU and national level. The event, which included a keynote speech from Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, was superb and its success is a credit to the dedication of colleagues in the Social Platform Secretariat. Such thematic events on the Social Pillar will be taking place throughout 2020 in the European Parliament, so please do attend!
I said earlier that as a network, we need to evolve. This we are certainly doing. Together with our members, we are looking forward to finalising and launching our revised strategic direction, vision and mission, at the General Assembly on 5 May 2020. This will also be the day when we lay on a festive celebration of our 25th anniversary, while in September 2020, our third Flagship Conference, organised back-to-back with the German Presidency’s conference on upwards social convergence, will take place in Berlin, focusing primarily around the issues of minimum wage, minimum income and services. And as this is our silver anniversary, it is always a good time to reflect on our history and, most importantly, to look ahead. That is why throughout this year, each Social Compass will have a reflection piece on Social Platform’s achievements, challenges and future directions, both from within the membership and from our partners and allies.
We have an ambitious work programme for this year and really look forward to working with all of our members and partners to continue advocating for social justice and ensuring that civil society is invited to negotiating tables, when we talk about the future direction for Europe and devising policies which ultimately impact on people’s lives.
I wish you all a great year!
Piotr Sadowski, President of Social Platform