What to wish for on Europe Day…

What to wish for on Europe Day? As communicated by Social Platform’s delegation when we met Heads of State and Government at the end of last year: to revive the Europe Union, EU leaders will have to regain people’s trust. This 9 May 2018, our biggest wish is therefore that, six months after the EU Social Summit and a year before the European Parliament elections, EU leaders use the current budget negotiations to regain this trust by putting people back at the core of the European project.

What will the EU budget fund after 2020? On 2 May, the European Commission presented its proposal, opening a process of negotiations that it hopes will be concluded before the parliament elections next May. How likely is it that this timeframe will be respected? What does the package propose to cover as a matter of priority? How much of it will be invested in people and how aligned will this be with the European Pillar of Social Rights? In our blog ‘EU budget – Hope and hazards for social spending’, we have started to analyse the potential social impact the next budget could have, with a particular focus on the European Social Fund proposal.

The EU can and must secure social investment within its own budget, but it can also encourage more funding to be invested in people at national level, too. Why is this necessary and how can the rules be changed to give countries new impetus and ensure that all members of society benefit from the economic recovery that is currently take place across Europe? As explained in our blog ‘How to ensure adequate funding for social policies and services at national level? The role of taxation and EU budgetary rules’, the EU can help to ensure adequate funding for social policies and services at national level.

Europe Day is about wishes, but it’s also about commitments. As civil society organisations, while we wish to have EU institutions that positively impact on the lives of people, we also commit to contribute towards having the same impact. For this we need to empower our own networks, and we need to strengthen our cooperation with EU decision-makers. Work on both elements was at the core of our recent General Assembly, which was built around a mix of internal reflections on our objectives and approaches and dialogue with EU officials, including an exchange with the new Director-General of the European Commission’s department for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) Joost Korte. A renewed spirit of cooperation with DG EMPL took shape, which was confirmed some days later in the framework of the Annual Convention on Inclusive Growth in which Social Platform and many of our members joined forces to define the road to implementation of the Social Pillar.

Altogether, we want to show that there is another face to Europe, a Union which leaves no one behind. This edition of the Social Compass shows that it is possible and that our collective efforts, in the spirit of partnership, can and do make a difference. But there are different ways to act and the price that some activists pay is unacceptable. Manuel Blanco is one of those people; while he has just been cleared of criminal charges in Greece for saving the lives of drowning migrants and refugees, many other individuals and organisations across Europe face sanctions for showing solidarity. To show your support for a #Welcoming Europe, read our blog and take action!