It’s time for a social SOTEU

As Brussels becomes a ghost town with people heading off on holiday, there’s a small group in the European Commission who face their most intensive work period of the year. Yes, that’s right: it’s State of the EU drafting season.

This year’s State of the EU (SOTEU) comes amid a staggering rise in the cost-of-living, the war in Ukraine, the impact of climate change and growing energy poverty. While the EU bubble enjoys the summer holidays, the stark reality is that not only can millions of people across the EU not afford a holiday, they also can’t afford to put food on the table for their children or pay their electricity bills.

Populists claim that the political elite are out of touch with the needs of people on the ground. Listening to last year’s SOTEU where things like social rights and poverty barely got a mention, it’s easy to see why people feel that the EU isn’t listening. President von der Leyen has an opportunity to make this year’s SOTEU relevant to people by putting concrete solutions on the table that tackle the social and economic crisis they are facing.

So what do we mean by ‘concrete’? We’ve identified 5 solutions to help deliver a decent life for all people:

  1. Strong social safety nets through a minimum income directive
  2. Creating a union of equality by better monitoring human rights and equality strategies
  3. An EU Solidarity Strategy to respond to the Ukraine war
  4. An EU Social Services Strategy to empower both people who rely on these vital services and those who provide them
  5. Building an EU with and for its people through an EU Civil Society Strategy

Through our members we know first-hand that these are the areas that need action at EU level if we’re ever to make substantial progress on improving people’s living standards, and the SOTEU is the key moment for President von der Leyen to show people in Europe that she’s ready to act. The EU says it’s listening. I guess we’re about to find out.