June 20th, 2017
A pan-European alliance of over 250 NGOs has called for a more democratic, just and sustainable EU as European leaders open discussion on the future shape of the Union.
The launch comes ahead of an EU summit this week where leaders will discuss key issues around Europe’s future, including migration, security, employment and Brexit.
Discussions will be based around five ‘Future of Europe’ scenarios proposed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Mr Juncker’s proposals outline how the EU could evolve by 2025 depending on how it chooses to respond to the above challenges.
Leida Rijnhout of SDG Watch Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe, however, criticised Juncker’s five scenarios, commenting that they are “deeply disappointing” and have “little connection” to the obstacles faced by the EU. She called instead for “a bold vision – an alternative sixth scenario – that puts social and environmental well-being at the core.”
It is intended that this alternative vision for Europe – Scenarios 6: Sustainable Europe for its Citizens – outlined by the NGO alliance will shape the debate on the future direction of the European Union.
The alliance – including SDG Watch Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe – represent a range of groups involved in areas such as environmental conservation, labour rights, and women’s rights.
The vision outlined by the NGO alliance promotes a future for Europe in which “sustainability sits firmly at the heart of the European project”.
The alliance’s also calls for an EU focused on “democracy and participation, social and environmental justice, solidarity and sustainability, respect for the rule of law, and human rights both within Europe and around the globe”.
Regarding environmental well-being, the vision proposes a number of goals to be achieved by 2025, including the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.
This should be achieved by decarbonising the European economy, enhancing energy efficiency and accelerating the transition to clean and affordable renewable energy.
The NGOs also call for the introduction of common standards that would ensure access to clean air and water for European citizens, renewable and community-based energy production, and safe and healthy food.
General Secretary of the European Public Service Union (EPSU), Jan Willem Goudriaan, said that Europe should form a proactive strategy to improve public investment and democratic accountability in the provision of quality public services for all.
“Public services and decent work are key ingredients for a fairer, more cohesive and sustainable Europe,” he added.
Reform of the EU Budget is also key to creating “a progressive and inspiring new vision for Europe,” said Petr Hlobil, Director of CEE Bankwatch Network.
Mr Hlobil added that a new model for more closely involving civil society in EU spending and building sustainable futures holds “the highest potential to reconnect people with the European project”.