In the context of increasing populism, important developments are required in order to guarantee the future of Europe. To win back the trust of its citizens, the EU needs an agenda which addresses their concerns, in particular regarding employment, security and integration.
A Europe of safety and hope for the people. A Europe that is seen by people not as a problem, but as the solution to their problems.
This is the kind of Europe that we, Socialists and Democrats, want. This is the European ideal that is worth struggling for, and that elections can be won with.
Promoting employment through investment
There is one key aspect to this: we want to ensure that the Europe of the future will be a Europe of employment, which is able to overcome the social inequalities that have been on the rise for years now.
We have to close the gap between the rich and the poor in Europe. We have to offer employment opportunities to young people, particularly in southern Europe, where youth unemployment rates are still alarmingly high. We urge Europe not to lose sight of this problem. Promoting education and training is a key task for EU policy.
Investments – both public and private – are needed to create new perspectives. They make an important contribution to putting the economy back on track and to allowing the creation of new jobs. European investment initiatives are worthwhile, for example when helping young people to start their own businesses.
Appropriate financial measures
To make Europe a real driving force for growth and jobs, we need a proper European budget so that necessary measures can be initiated.
I firmly believe that we have to further the European project and must not yield to anti-Europeans and populists. At the same time, we need the courage to change Europe, to make it sustainable and future-oriented.
This also applies to the rules of our financial and budgetary policies. Clearly, the common rules we have defined in Europe must be respected by everyone, all across the Union. But we need rules that do not suffocate member states. As a matter of fact, we have to accept that some of our financial and budget regulations have not helped to achieve the expected results.
Security: a major concern for Europeans
A strong and successful Europe is also a safe and secure Europe. Internal and external security are currently matters of great significance for Europeans. People need to feel that they are not being let down by Europe when it comes to safety and security. This is something which needs to be appropriately considered.
Clearly, Europe must find better approaches to tackling the challenges of migration. In light of continued immigrations, the countries which refugees arrive in must no longer be left alone. Migrants need to be fairly allocated. This is a European question, which demands a European answer. Introducing a common European right to asylum would make sense: just because some countries are not directly affected by this problem, migration must not be taken off the European agenda.
Concrete proposals for integration
Populist answers are not a solution. We need a comprehensive concept for tackling the challenges of migration. The Italian government under its former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had put forward a relevant proposal as early as in 2016.
Making Europe successful and ready for the future also means linking migration with integration. This corresponds to the humanitarian values that Europe is based upon. In this context, Italy, under Mr. Renzi’s government, decided to heavily invest in cultural measures: for every Euro spent on security, we will spend the same amount on culture. Emmanuel Macron also adopted similar policies highlighting the importance of culture in his election campaign, and rightly so!
A Europe that listens to its citizens
If we implement European policies that are close to the people, and if we ensure that Europe attends to people’s fears and worries, the citizens of Europe will associate it with trust and hope for a better future – even in such hard times.
I am positive that a political agenda relying on these values will change Europe for the better, and will receive the support of the majority on both the national and the European level.
Laura Garavini is a Member of the Democratic Political Group’s Executive in the Italian Chamber of Deputies.