Let us build together the temple called Europe

Antoine de Saint-Exupery stated: “Stones have no hope of being anything but stones. However, through collaboration they get themselves together and become a temple.” So let us build together the temple called Europe! 

We must join forces for the future of Europe and we need to mobilise civil society at all levels, in view of the European elections. They demand, more than ever, our vigilance and commitment. The cooperation between all institutions is key. I would like to reiterate the unflinching support of the European civil society for the European project, its values and its results.

A comprehensive strategy at European level is needed, one that covers the 2030 Agenda for a sustainable Europe and focuses on the digital revolution and youth. The sustainable agenda must implement a balanced strategy, capable of integrating the challenges of competitiveness, environmental protection and social inclusion. In addition, we need to prepare a real digital transformation that will allow European companies to remain engines of innovation and creativity. Trade policies must ensure the competitiveness of the European Union, with a leading role for fair trade. Finally, young people have to be involved in the European debate and its decision-making process.

We, the economic and social committees, need to innovate and move with the times, because citizens want to be able to participate more and make their contribution. We are the houses of civil society, of Europe at work, and we must make sure that we remain relevant, avoiding the risk of turning the committees into a museum or a cemetery.

Let me also highlight our joint activities on the European Commission's White Paper on the future of Europe. In this context, the Committee conducted 27 national debates in the Member States and consulted organised civil society on the White Paper and its different scenarios and reflections. We have worked closely with the Economic and Social Councils of Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and, of course, with the Economic, Social and Environmental Council of France. The consultation of French organised civil society at the Palais d'Iena on 18 May 2017 gave very convincing results and this important feedback was included in the EESC resolution on the Commission's White Paper on the future of Europe.

The debate on the future of Europe will end at the informal summit in Sibiu on 9 May, where Heads of State and Government will have to give a political answer. At our March plenary, we voted on our final contribution, which embodies the positions of organised civil society on the future of Europe. This document, entitled “Listening to the citizens of Europe for a sustainable future”, contains several key findings and ideas.

In particular, the EESC calls for a comprehensive strategy for the implementation of Agenda 2030 for a Sustainable Europe. In this context, the Paris Agreement must represent a strict minimum. The UN's sustainable development objectives are to be reflected in all the EU's internal and external policies.

Finally, the EESC supports the development of a new social pact. In this sense, a strong European budget must restore economic and social convergence.

Let us consolidate together this temple called Europe, let us join forces for a real rEUnaissance.

Luca Jahier is President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

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