As European Democrats, we are a central political force in Europe and want to strengthen the Europe and want to strengthen the European Union. Our humanist traditions drive us to reform to reform Europe. Our belief in political pluralism makes us reject the false us to reject the false dichotomy between left and right wing politics. That is why we debate with all, have political opponents, but no enemies. And like the European Union itself, Democrats' greatest strength is our diversity while defending fundamental rights, principles and freedom of speech, opinion and expression. of speech, opinion and the press. We believe in the power of of education, culture, reason, lucidity and dialogue. dialogue.
Strengthening democracy must be put back at the top of Europe's agenda. We need an EU more democratic at all levels: local, regional, national and European. This is why transnational political movements and movements and political parties like the European Democrats are so important that transnational political movements and political parties like the European Democrats are so important: we need to bring decisions closer, institutions and elected officials closer to the citizens at all levels of governance in Europe. A European Democrat cares about the future of others, feels 'at home' wherever he or she is in Europe and defends European solidarity
We want a Europe that is fair, open, committed and respected in the world for its culture and values. We reject short-termism: we believe in we believe in long-term solutions, in policies that reform Europe and in investing in the in the future of youth. This is why we place education and training at the heart of all our policies at the heart of all our policies, so that young people know their history and are equipped with the necessary tools to build the future of Europe.
The recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is a unique opportunity to recover better. Digital and sustainability need to be Europe’s new coal and steel: they both need to be central to our strategy. Transforming the European economy to make it carbon-neutral and making the most of the digital revolution is complex. Yet it is so clearly needed not only to stand by the Paris Agreement, but also for Europe to remain competitive. We must continue to be leaders in not only the services sector, but also in industrial production by making the most of the first-mover advantage. The EU can achieve this twin transition through ambitious investments in innovation and new technologies which will allow us to reap the benefits quickly and set the direction for global development. Democrats want to complete this transformation quickly, and without leaving anyone behind.
Harnessing the advantages of digitalisation throughout Europe’s industrial strategy is vital. Yet we are conscious that Europe is not just cities and factories: small farms, villages and rural areas are too often left behind. Instead, we need investments and public policies that allow sectors like agriculture and other sectors to make the most of digitalisation. We need to have a vision, not an ideological approach that is a ‘one-size fits all’. We cannot afford to have whole industries or parts of Europe left alone and then face unfair competition. We need a transition that is balanced, focussed on research and investments, tailored to regional differences, and geared towards the latest technologies that make Europe a leader.
Democrats also believe that Europe’s prosperity is directly linked to our role in the world, and that the world can benefit from Europe’s presence. Our allies want an EU that is united, stronger, and engaged on all the key challenges we share. This is why we must continue to promote open, balanced and fair commercial relations, ensuring the protection of the environment, respecting human rights and enabling sustainable development. A more open world, if well governed, can bring numerous benefits both to our continent and to our trading partners.
Europe now has a big responsibility: we need to be a driver for change, through investments in sustainability, digitalisation and making the most of our global role in trade.
The world of work has changed faster than ever before, and it will continue to do so. We must therefore adapt the rules, safety nets and policies so that the EU is ready for the future of work. Europe’s future will also be defined by the way it prepares, organises and adapts its workforce. We refute the ‘choice’ between socialists and conservatives: Democrats stand for a Europe able to adapt to new ways of working, making our economies more sustainable and investing in both people and new industries. We do not to leave anyone behind.
Our Union must ensure that our social rights are respected for new forms of work both online and offline; pushing for both social justice and gender equality while allowing start-ups and new industries to emerge. Our EU values and social rights must be embedded in the digital economy, and the opportunities provided by new types of work are both sustainable and fair. This means boosting internet coverage Europe-wide and training the more elderly workers so that no one is left behind.
Europe must provide all its citizens with a decent life, and create an environment where social convergence becomes a virtuous circle. For example, every European worker must be entitled to a decent minimum wage. In addition, we must guarantee a safety net to support those who cannot take advantage of the opportunities of a constantly changing labour market. Combating social exclusion and strengthening support for the most disadvantaged is also necessary to ensure that no one is left behind.
The EU needs to give equal importance to investments in culture as it does in security. Culture is the glue that brings citizens together, in addition to being one of the pillars of Europe’s economy and diversity. Democrats believe that for every 1€ spend on security, another 1€ should be spent on culture. We believe that this will help to strengthen our European identity, but also be a real step forward for our prosperity and security.
It is culture that makes citizens feel more European, and this cannot be considered a luxury one can do away with. Investing in culture across Europe nurtures our formidable diversity, multilingualism, creative thinking and jump-starts a sector badly hit by the pandemic.
Culture starts with young people in schools. Given the plurality of our history, we call for investment in education to build our common future and to strengthen truly European media. This would be good news for all, but especially for young people who are the linchpin of Europe’s future. 2022 will mark the 35 years of the Erasmus+ programme and the European Single Market will celebrate its 30th anniversary on 1st of January 2023. These are important milestones for all Europeans, but especially for the Erasmus generation who need to become the EU’s best ambassadors. Democrats want to help young people make the most of Europe, discover its diversity, and become the driving force behind the EU project. We must ensure that they have access to quality education and jobs where their skills and determination can be fully used
The human cost of the Covid-19 crisis must lead to effective measures to ensure that Europeans are better equipped to deal with health risks. Democrats believe that these challenges must be addressed head-on: strengthening European sovereignty over health and creating a Health Union. The EU must be more active in the field of public health because health risks do not stop at borders. Europe cannot afford to limit itself to recommendations and support measures. We must learn from past mistakes, build European resilience and give the EU the tools to act.
The time has come for a sovereign and democratic Europe. Europe’s political union needs to move beyond the idea of an association between States: ‘strength through unity’ is no longer enough. We need a political community of solidarity. Pro-European reformists must claim back terms like sovereignty, power and autonomy. The reason is simple: the only effective way to defeat populism is by bringing results to those who vote for populist movements. Democrats must be the ones calling for Europe to ‘take back control’, not nationalist parties driven by isolationism.
Yet taking back control over major transnational issues requires a new transnational politics. It will enable Europeans to regain the necessary capacity for action at European level. There are two fundamental conditions: a new political vision, taking into account the principle of subsidiarity, promoted by a dynamic group of political forces and leaders, and engagement through new forms of participation at various levels, together with citizen debates. This is why the Conference on the Future of Europe is crucial: Democrats want the Conference to be a success, with citizens engaged from the get-go and clear outcomes. Our member parties, during the Conference, must ask citizens for their opinion on the choices to be made. Democrats across Europe are driving this process forward by getting people engaged and collecting their proposals and we must be ready to ensure a full implementation of the key decisions and orientations of the Conference.
As Democrats, we have always pushed for Europe to be closer to its citizens, so we have a decisive role to play. We must ensure that the Conference is not only a success in terms of citizens making their voices heard, but that it then results in reforms being implemented as a result. It is a historic opportunity for citizens from all over Europe to discuss and debate European issues, and this is particularly important for young people.
Tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, the refugee crisis, climate change, protecting biodiversity, security threats… The challenges are piling up and governments ask the EU to do more without giving it the tools to do the job. Health has been the most obvious example: the EU had to respond to a pandemic without having any formal competence on health. Yet the need for continent-wide action was clear. Buying of masks, vaccines, properly allocating hospital beds – all of these should have been done much faster.
To get results we need to do away with vetoes and give the EU the means to act decisively. Democrats want Europe to act, not be paralysed by vetoes. We need to be the ones showing why the EU needs the capacity to act.
No village, region, country or continent can afford to be inward-looking. itself. That's why Democrats are constantly working with others with others: European Democrats work with legislators around the world who share our vision for the who share our vision for the future. No major policy issue can be effectively tackled by Europeans alone effectively by Europeans alone: cybersecurity, and human rights, standing up to China, fighting foreign interference, ensuring the resilience of our democracies democracies, and more. All these challenges require global cooperation, starting with Europe and the United States. We are convinced that American and European Democrats must intensify their cooperation for an effective, progressive approach on the international stage.
In the area of digital technology, for example, parliamentarians on both sides of the Atlantic have everything to gain by working together. Currently, Facebook and others finance themselves through misinformation, offensive content and lies. The reason? These contents attract attention and spread. These practices weaken our democracies, prevent facts or science from taking its place in the public public debate and make us vulnerable to foreign interference. This situation is unacceptable: what is illegal offline should also be illegal online. Greater transparency on the functioning of these algorithms is necessary, and we can only achieve this by 'opening the box'. Finally, we must give ourselves the means to fight against those who exploit these tools by illegally financing online disinformation campaigns: Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela and others.
Democrats want to work with policymakers around the world on this issue, because it is clearly a shared challenge. There is no quick-fix solution. We need to move forward side by side on legislation, share best practices and set clear global standards for others to follow. The same goes for defending our interests and values. Europe must not be naïve: soft power is important, but so is hard power. Europe issues threatening press releases but has no 'sticks to brandish' - leaving Putin and Erdogan unopposed. The NATO shield has recently shown its weaknesses: the Alliance needs two legs to stand on, one on each side of the Atlantic. This means a strong European defence pillar, in addition to an 'arsenal of values' so that autocrats do not take over the 21st century. Our American allies, including American Democrats, have asked us to intensify our efforts in this field: a strong Europe in the field of defence is in our common interest and does not compromise the importance of NATO.
Democrats believe in the power of local solutions. The freedom of local decision-making goes hand in hand with local responsibility. The EU should work in a bottom-up approach: both be visible locally and learn from solutions found in regions across Europe. We want to work outside the Brussels bubble and go local.
That’s why the European solutions campaign is so important: it’s an opportunity for European Democrats to establish our distinct voice, gain visibility, galvanise our network across Europe, for our parties to work more closely together and contribute to the Conference on the Future of Europe The campaign will put a spotlight on the numerous innovative solutions that have been found to tackle environmental, social and cross-border issues throughout Europe. It will also highlight projects that have benefitted from EU support, and therefore raise awareness of solutions that exist and how they could be brought up to the EU level. It will be structured around a series of events in local communities with our member parties and MEPs, but also NGOs, local officials, business leaders, civil society and local press. There is no shortage of projects: our regions are full of solutions and Democrats want to give them centre stage
We believe that our Union is at a crucial turning point and that everything is to play for. The stakes could not be higher: the European Union is at risk, and we need to act. The inequalities caused by poorly regulated globalisation, the Covid-19 pandemic, an unprecedented technological revolution, and the chaotic management of migration f lows, have led to extremist forces seeking to exploit citizens’ concerns and fears.
Yet the EU is about co-responsibility for all these common challenges. It’s why walls are wrong not only because they go against our principles, but because they are fallacies. They give us a false sense of control. It’s time for European Democrats to assert themselves: the traditional parties who have dominated the European scene until now are no longer able to renew the pro-European momentum the founding fathers had sparked. We’re united by our determination to strengthen democracy at European level: building the central pillar upon which European democracy is based on and strengthening European citizenship.
The role of Democrats is to be in the centre of European politics. For us, the political centre is not just an ideal, but a method of governance. It’s about treating political opponents like possible allies, not enemies. Our responsibility as Democrats is to build alliances, finding a balance and then building the momentum needed for reform. The European Democratic Party must inspire a new political constellation to transform the EU and strengthen our European democracy. It is a major challenge, a matter of urgency. So, from this day onwards and right up to June 2024, we will be relentless f lagbearers for reform. We will rebuild Europe. We will drive our priorities forward with more resolve than ever before.