In exactly 12 months, between 23 and 26 May 2019, we, European citizens, will go to the polls to elect our representatives at the European Parliament. This election will be a pivotal one: following the vote of the UK to exit the EU, this will serve as a test for the Future of Europe envisioned by the EU institutions and the EU Heads of state and government.
This election will be a very important challenge, where citizens will have the power to approve or water down the ambitions for Europe that, likely enough, some still put on the table.
We do see this kind of “pragmatic ambition” in the European Commission initial proposal for the Multi-annual Financial Framework for the period 2021 to 2027 (MFF 2021-27). The text clearly builds upon the reflection and the consultations of the past few years, and is in this sense a “political priorities’ setting” exercice, and not an accounting one: it is a long-awaited and strongly welcomed new approach. It is now up to the governments of the 27 and the European Parliament to negotiate and agree on the EU priorities until 2027.
We consider the European Commission proposal of a few weeks ago on the MFF 2021-27 as pragmatic. It shows a way forward, with a clear focus on key political priorities. Reinforcing the Economic and Monetary Union should remain a key priority, and we welcome the inclusion in the proposal of the new European Investment Stabilisation Function to protect key investment. The future Reform Support Programme should also bring a clear added value, by helping Member States in developing and implementing balanced economic and social reforms. However, we are concerned about the proposed cuts to Cohesion Policy. Whilst modernisation and conditionalities should help to increase the value for money, this effort should be made without cuts.
As already stated in our joint statement with the EU cross-industry social partners at the March Tripartite Social Summit, we call on decision-makers to make sure that the MFF 2021-27 is in place before the European elections. It would ensure continuity in the actions of the European Union, whilst giving a solid basis to the debates and discussions on the European added-value.
In the 12 months ahead of us, we intend to play an important role in the debates, both on the MFF 2021-27 and ahead of the European elections. We need to ensure the proper articulation between citizens, Member States, regional and local authorities and the EU. With an EU being “big on the bigger things”, citizens will get back ownership of the EU project, and a proper say in shaping Europe.
Employers and providers of public services and of services of general interest have a key democratic responsibility: they can liaise between citizens and institutions and reconnect both. Our commitment is therefore geared towards our members, towards Europe, towards its citizens and its enterprises. A framework conducive to the growth and development of SGIs and public services is a key priority for the Future of Europe.
We intend to make this message clear.
I wish you a good read.