“Another EUrope is necessary and possible – with innovations for more democracy, solidarity and sustainable development in the new mandate of the European Parliament and the European Commission”, Platform 112, Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia, Group 22, Clubture and Green forum highlighted through presentation of the “Pre-election activist inventory for the EU by 2020.” Candidates for European Parliament are now on the move. They are called to support the proposals from the “Inventory” and present how they intend to publicly promote them in the European political sphere.
Although Europe 2020 offers an encouraging vision of the continent based on the well-being, education, green economy and the preservation of natural resources, given the tendency in the political sphere, the complexity of the political decision-making and many other challenges, civil society organizations and trade unions share a concern about the direction in which the EU is going. They also offer suggestions of what should be changed.
“The EU needs to be more democratic and its public sphere should be designed in the way that allows equal participation of all European citizens in the debate. We believe that the policy can restore confidence, re- build it, and as far as the development model is concerned, it should be directed to sustainable production and consumption, with different criteria in decision-making on financial arrangements”, said Jelena Berković, Deputy Executive Director at GONG, opening presentation “Pre-election activist inventory for the EU by 2020.” in Zagreb, Centre for independent Culture and Youth – POGON.
The financial sector at the service of sustainable development!
“When the crisis began, everyone was talking about fundamental reforms, but as a response we got even more neoliberal policies, saving of private institutions with public money and obsession with financial indicators, while social indicators in most member countries worsen and the reform of financial institutions has failed” warned Darko Šeperić from Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia and added “this may not be the list of almighty and complete solutions, but it is a list of serious topics and ideas presented so far which have not been adequately discussed”.
Therefore, a social contract for Europe is necessary – a political document that will establish the objectives of the EU – full employment, quality jobs, higher wages and pensions, strengthening the welfare state, sustainable development and strong regulation of financial markets. Education needs to be recognized as the strategic investment, not as an expense. Also, a stimulating legal framework is needed for a strong support for development and stabilization of social economy.
In fact, attempts out of the crisis based on the policy of reduced spending, particularly in the South and East of Europe, resulted in the escalation of social divisions, increased poverty and fragmentation of the public sector, with the absence of the expected economic recovery, particularly in rural areas.
Unsustainability of the current model of economic growth in the environmental, social and economic terms is, therefore, obvious.
Politics for people, protection of environment and public goods
“The increasing stratification of society and the marginalization of entire generations and regions, questions the core values and ideals of the EU as an area of freedom, security, justice; the complex model of decision-making remains unclear and away from the majority of the population, which contributes to the collapse of professional journalism and independent media” highlighted Duje Prkut from GONG, stressing “the importance of civic education and creating awareness of European citizenship which may ultimately reduce the political costs of implementation of the decisions of the ‘Inventory’”.
For example, “environmental issues permeate all European policies and it is, therefore, important that future MEP’s get familiar with this subject, and, unlike the common ways to tackle with crisis, when the environmental standards are often cut, this should be the opportunity for new development in accordance with objectives of sustainable environment”, said Enes Ćerimagić from the Green Forum, aware that the “Pre-election inventory” has “ambitious goals, but the EU is currently spending more world’s resources than it belongs to her and in that sense, it is necessary to take certain measures and shift tax burden from labor to resource exploitation.”
In this context, it is “necessary to transform public companies toward transparent management of natural resources, like water utilities, so that management is monitored by relevant social groups that take into account the economic, social and environmental side of sustainability. Activists think that we should oppose to any new agreement on free trade which threaten social and environmental standards, especially the planned agreements with the U.S. and Canada, and the European Parliament should oppose any arrangements that include measures to resolve disputes between states and investors because such items could allow private corporations to legally challenge the democratically agreed EU, national and local laws that protect citizens’ rights, health and the environment , ” warned Ćerimagić.
Culture as a common good and the component of sustainable development
Another key area, which is usually neglected, is culture which is “discussed only in the context of budget, and never about its role in other areas; but culture should be the key element in public sphere as an instrument for involvement of active citizens and should also be horizontally pulled across every EU policy. It is therefore necessary to establish Inter-group for culture in EP, strengthen the public sphere, provide access to culture and encourage the mobility of artists and cultural workers; also, we are asking aspirants for seats in European Parliament to clearly identify measures against cutting the cultural budget“, warned Katarina Pavić from Clubture.
Protect people, not borders!
It shouldn’t be forgotten how important it is to allow nationals of third countries full enjoyment of civil (freedom of entry, residence and movement) and political rights, and there is also need for common European policy for creating solidarity and dignified asylum system. The EU should work on Europe of rights in terms of women’s human rights, gender equality and LGBT rights; EU foreign policy should be dedicated to active promotion of equitable and cooperative international relations, while active enlargement policy towards the Balkans should remain an integral segment of the EU’s foreign policy as one of its most successful components.