State of the Union: European Movement Wish List
Mr Juncker will be delivering his State of the Union speech at a crucial moment for the EU. As our continent is engulfed by challenges, bold actions are needed, including initiatives which go beyond narrow national interests and serve the European Union as a whole. From migration to economic policy, what is needed is unity, solidarity and political vision. The European Movement calls for the following actions:
- To resolve the migration crisis for now and the future, the EU needs to agree on a Joint Migration and Asylum Policy. This policy should set one European procedure for asylum seekers and refugees, ending the discrepancies between national asylum policies. It should include one permanent and binding mechanism that ensures the fair sharing of responsibility to host asylum seekers and refugees, according to each states’ economic and social capacities as well as the preferences of asylum seekers and refugees. Coercive transfers should be avoided. A system that allows applying for asylum at the place of origin will also reduce the incentive to make what is often the perilous trip to the EU. In the meantime, the EU budget should be utilised, not in the least the €3 billion available in the European Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.
- For the success of Europe and the European idea, borders should remain open. Free Movement is one of the fundamental rights of EU citizens, and labour mobility in the EU is key for the economic prosperity of our continent. It cannot be compromised. With regards to Europe’s external borders, a ‘Fortress Europe’ mentality must not be allowed to seize the debate. To prevent Europe from closing itself off from the rest of the world, legal migration should be fostered, having a much wider application which meets the needs of European labour markets. Safe access to the EU should be ensured for those that seek asylum, exploring options such as humanitarian visas.
- To cope with any future economic crises, the EU needs a strong Monetary, Economic and Political Union. The European Commission, with close oversight by the European Parliament, should be responsible for European Economic Governance. A Vice President of the European Commission should take on the role of ‘High Representative’ for fiscal and economic policies. Concrete plans for risk-sharing and a Eurozone fiscal capacity based on own resources should be developed, as well as increased budgetary and fiscal coordination for more economic convergence.
- Economic and Monetary Union without a strong and visible social dimension is not sustainable. Economic policy inevitably has a social impact, and social policy objectives should be mainstreamed into the overall governance architecture of the EMU. Social issues should get the same priority as fiscal and economic issues in crisis response. The social safety net should be harmonised as much as possible across the EU. Automatic stabilisers should be strengthened and introduced where they are missing. Assistance for areas that lose competitiveness should also be enhanced, including re-training and further education.
- The EU has no future without the full backing of its citizens. Intergovernmental crisis fixes will not increase citizens’ trust. Only the use of the community method, and full democratic scrutiny of policies and institutions by the European Parliament, can provide legitimate European policies to deal with problems such as the economic crisis. The influence of citizens on EU policy making should be strengthened via truly European elections with a transnational list, and more opportunities for meaningful public participation of the representative and democratic civil society, starting with the full implementation of article 11 TEU.
- The State of the Union is dependent also on stability at its borders. Enlargement has been a very successful instrument to neutralise instability at the borders of the European Union. Only a credible enlargement perspective can bring about positive change in the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership countries, and offer a clear outlook for their citizens. The integration process in the Western Balkans should not be put ‘on hold’ by excluding the possibility of enlargement, and thereby risking to pay a higher price for instability at Europe’s borders instead.
- In an increasingly competitive global environment, speaking with one voice to represent the interests of the Union is crucial. This holds not in the least for international fora such as the Climate Change negotiations, where the EU must take the lead to safeguard the climate and our future; or for example with regard to energy security, where having the EU negotiate with energy providers on behalf of all Member States will strengthen the position of each individual Member State, especially those overly dependent on imported energy sources.
- The Union can only succeed as one. To safeguard its values, reach its objectives, and be strong vis-à-vis the rest of the world, the European Union needs to avoid fragmentation. All efforts should be concentrated to prevent that Member States – whether Greece or the UK –leave the Union, whilst ensuring that the EU’s core principles will not be compromised.