The coming European Elections are considered as the most crucial ones for the future of the European project. The progressive forces need to tackle the surge of populist and far-right forces and the election of Manfred Weber as the next President of the European Commission. His candidacy clearly signals the decline towards a more rigid shift regarding social and economic policies, and the repetition of the same austerity agenda that has led to growing social grievances and euroscepticism.
Eleven years after the spark of the global financial crisis, EU and Eurozone are gradually recovering. Nonetheless, to incite sustainable growth and bolster the Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2021-2017, we need to build progressive alliances in the European Parliament and push for policies that can be widely endorsed by the Socialists, the European Left and the Greens. The social agenda we are calling for put people first, aim at enhancing the labor market, dealing with climate change and creating the conditions for public investments that can address income and social inequalities across the Union.
Spain, Portugal and Greece are successful case studies on how progressive alliances work and what the social agenda for a stronger Europe could encompass. At the same time, we do need more efforts and synergies to form a wide antifascist block. This is an utmost priority as far-right and populist parties might have stronger representation in the next European Parliament.
In addition to that, progressive forces can also pave the way for a European Commission that can focus on the social agenda, the social rights, sustainable growth and green energy issues, rather than keep managing how to preserve austerity and downsize the role of the movements and the civil society in the making of the new political agenda. We need people to be more involved in the decision-making process, we need to bridge the gap between political leaders and constituencies; and this should be one of the main goals of the new European Parliament, the task we, as progressive forces, need to invest in.
We are confident that we can do more and bring in wide support. Our proposals deal with the concerns of the European people, their interests and future. To that end, we need to balance between a new visionary approach for the future of the EU, how we imagine it, and at the same time embrace reality and bring social change, re-politicize the debate on social values, solidarity and cohesion.
In the EU Elections, European citizens should go and vote. It is about our future, how we can make this Union work properly for the many, and distance ourselves from all political forces that want to invest in nationalism and dismantle our common future.
*The article is jointly signed by:
Dimitris Rapidis, Coordinator of the European Progressive Forum (Syriza party, Greece)
José João Torrinha, President of the Municipal Assembly of Guimarães (Socialist Party, Portugal)
Lluis Camprubi, Head of European and International Affairs in the Catalan Greens (Spain)