For the first time in its history, the European Union - a unique project in the history of our continent - might break up, fall apart, and even cease to exist. The combined effect of the turmoil caused by poorly regulated globalisation, the severe economic and social consequences of the financial crisis, the impact of an unprecedented technological revolution, and the chaotic management of migration flows, has led to political or extremist forces seeking to exploit the concerns and fears of worried and confused citizens. Europe needs a clean break, a profound democratic radical reform. The people of Europe have been excluded from the vision and destiny of Europe.
Europe cannot exist without its people. It’s time for European Democrats to assert themselves. The parties that have dominated the European scene in recent decades are no longer able to rekindle the tremendous European momentum that the founding fathers managed to create. They are tired and have let down the people: the gap between the citizens of Europe and European institutions has been widening. Furthermore, European policies are all too often inadequate or incomplete. It is time for Democrats to take control. We have a duty to share our European dream with citizens.
We live by the values of respect for human dignity, rule of law, freedom, equality, solidarity and responsibility. These values are embodied in our societies through pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, respect for national and linguistic minorities, equality between men and women, and investment in youth and education. The European Democratic Party wants to and must inspire a new political constellation whose aim is to get Europe back on track. There is no lack of work to be done. The challenge is great, the urgency is there. The EDP is taking up this challenge. For us, it is time to re-found Europe.
The European Union is an incomplete democracy. It certainly has a Parliament whose powers have been increased over time. But its powers remain limited! It has no competence in the field of revenue, it has no real power of initiative, it plays a secondary role in the choice of members of the European Executive.
But above all, its composition is more the result of national dynamism than the expression of a genuinely European dynamic.
The EDP is in favour of the introduction of transnational lists for the allocation of a significant number of the seats to be filled in the European Parliament.
In this way, voters will be able to choose between lists defending programmes for the whole of Europe.
Too many citizens perceive the European Union as an anonymous bureaucratic machine, insensitive to their problems and aspirations and beyond the reach of their grievances and demands.
The EDP wants to help reduce this gap. It calls on the European Union to mobilise the necessary resources to ensure that they know that they have the right to petition the European Parliament.
The EDP also considers that there is an urgent need to review and ease the rules of the European Citizens’ Initiative, which allows them to ask the European Commission to make a legislative proposal on a subject that concerns them.
Given the rules that sometimes require unanimity, it is intolerable that a Member State which drifts towards populist and even totalitarian tendencies, should be able to dictate its will to all the other Member States of the European Union. Fully democratic peoples and nations must not and can never accept that such regimes should paralyse and block the Union.
The EDP advocates the introduction of the European Mechanism for the protection of Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights, a resolution passed by the European Parliament, in order to increase the capacity of the European Court of Justice to deal with breaches of the rule of law in EU member States.
Given the risks of populist, or even authoritarian abuses with which Europe is confronted, our proposal is to set up a system in which failure to respect fundamental values (article 7 of the Treaty of Lisbon) would lead to:
As an interim measure in the process under Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, eligible persons and organisations from the Member State may apply for European funding directly from the European Commission.
The European Union, like any other political community, needs a common set of values and references to ensure its coherence, guide its choices and endow these with legitimacy and meaning.
These values, which are at the heart of our common identity, have been forged over centuries of turbulent history. They have been neglected at certain times, flouted at others, but they have always triumphed in the end.
These values are strong: respect of human dignity, the rule of law, freedom, equality, solidarity and responsibility..
They are embodied in our societies through pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, respect for national and linguistic minorities, gender equality and the separation of powers.. Even if they are already present in the founding Treaties, they will only take on their true dimension when they are written down in gold letters in the European Constitution to which we aspire.
Education and exchanges are the two major keys to the future.
The intensification of political and cultural exchanges between citizens plays a central role in the creation of a European identity and stimulates forms of cooperation between European citizens.
Erasmus plays a vital role in strengthening the mutual knowledge of different European cultures, building common ground, and in the emergence of a European people.
The EDP requires that Erasmus benefit from increased budgetary resources - to the tune of a threefold increase in its annual budget - and has its scope extended to young apprentices, artists, and young entrepreneurs.
We need our young people to build a common European history, to know and understand the work undertaken by our common Institutions on the basis of common territory. It is essential to go beyond borders in order to progress towards a European public sphere, through means of communication at European level that contribute to the creation of a European common sphere that complements the national, regional and local sphere. The EDP wants the creation of a European media dedicated to youth, which would raise awareness of our common membership, could be promoted by public authorities as is already the case for Arte.
Of all the achievements of the European Union, the euro is undoubtedly the greatest. Since its creation, it has fulfilled the tasks attributed to it by the Treaties: ensuring price stability and promoting trade. It also served as a buffer against the shock caused by the 2008 f inancial crisis, supporting the management of public deficits and creating liquidity to boost growth.
While the success of the euro is not much discussed, the performance of the euro area is more controversial. In recent years, the unemployment rate in the euro area (which includes 19 countries) has been permanently higher than in the 28 countries of the European Union. During the same period - and this is still the case today - the rate of increase in the Gross Domestic Product of the euro area was lower than that of the 28 European Union countries. Moreover, within the area itself, countries diverge more than they converge in terms of performance.
For citizens, the euro is a real paradox: it embodies what is closest to a citizen (the money in one’s pocket) but also what is furthest from a citizen (the currency of an undefined area, managed by autocrats in opaque bodies).
The future of the euro and the euro area requires that these differences in perceptions and performance be reconciled.
The EDP proposal to relaunch the Euro area is based in particular on a concerted convergence initiative concerning the pro-European and pro-active members of the Euro area (from 5 to 7 countries), including the Franco-German couple. These countries would jointly define a convergence target for the economic regulatory environment, fiscal principles, social pillar and labour law; they would consult on one or two joint investment projects in the field of innovation, digital sector or the industry of the future (for example, a digital and artificial intelligence agency). They would converge towards this target, each freely, through their national processes, in parallel with each other over a short period of time (3 years); in short, it is a kind of parallel convergence.
The other key to the euro area’s relaunch is obviously to develop own resources deducted from national taxes, such as a tax on financial transactions or a tax on GAFANs (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix). This will include the financing of new policies and compensate for the loss of budgetary resources caused by Brexit. In addition, there is no question of introducing a tax collection system at European level or of increasing the tax burden on European citizens.
For the EDP, it is also possible and desirable, without having to amend the Treaties, to strengthen the governance of the euro area with:
To tackle future crises the EU must complete the European Monetary Union with a comprehensive Banking Union, including a European Deposit Insurance Scheme.
Research and Innovation have always played a decisive role in business competitiveness and economic growth. This is even more true today in this period of technological upheaval, unprecedented challenges to protect the planet from global warming, new security and defence threats, stronger public aspirations for a real quality of life and greater respect for the environment.
Europe must do more to address these challenges.
Indeed, the EU’s share of GDP devoted to research and development is only 2.03%, almost one percent below its stated target (3%). Worse still, 17 of the 28 Member States devote less than 1.5% of their GDP to it. Overall, the EU is almost 1% behind the US and 1.5% behind Japan, not to mention China.
The EDP wants the EU to remain a leading global economic power. That’s why the EDP is asking:
For centuries, industry was the basis of the power of European states, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is still the case today, even though the service sector has gradually taken on a prominent role
The figures speak for themselves. European industry provides employment for more than 30 million people. It produces 17% of the value added and created in Europe and represents nearly 70% of its total exports. Each job in the industrial sector contributes to the direct or indirect creation of two other jobs in the value chain. Despite this, it cannot be said that there is a real industrial policy in Europe. The only one that existed - for coal and steel - was written off.
It is true that the EU remains among the world leaders in many sectors: chemicals, pharmaceuticals, metal manufacturing, transport (air, rail, road), etc. But we are lagging behind the USA in the sectors of the future and threatened by China’s rise to power
An urgent reaction is needed. The EDP suggests:
Despite the provision in the Treaties, in practice, Social Europe has so far been closely instrumentalised and subjected to functional ideology, due to the assumption that social integration would automatically occur as a result of market integration.This assumption was not borne out in fact, and the recent crisis has unveiled major social inequalities between European citizens and the lack of satisfaction concerning several social needs.
Against this background, the EDP suggests the following proposals :
The European Pillar of Social Rights is one of the EDP’s major priorities for the forthcoming years ideally a specific treaty on the Social Europe should define its general objectives and scope in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.
In the immediate future, we urge European institutions to draft a roadmap for the development of this social pillar that links the completion of the internal market with the gradual implementation of a genuine convergence strategy regarding working conditions, minimum wages, the fight against social dumping, guaranteed minimum income and minimum pensions.. The objective is to provide all Europeans with the right to a decent life, taking into account the differences in the cost of living between Member States, while ensuring sustainable growth and sound management of public accounts.
Priority must be given in law in particular to gender equity in terms of access to employment, as well as equal wages (for equivalent jobs).
We recommend the promotion of the social economy and associative work models, such as collective cooperation, to counteract the negative effects of globalisation.
We propose that the European Globalisation Fund can act preventively, before redundancies and company relocations.
The European pillar of social rights should make concrete proposals in fundamental areas such as support for families and children, promotion of higher birth rates, reconciliation of work, family and personal life, and long-term care for the elderly, especially those who are dependent.
Similarly, proposals should be made in favour of better social inclusion of young workers under 30 years old and older workers over 50 years old in the labour and housing market.
Finally, in keeping with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, we advocate the participation of Local and Regional Governments in the management of instruments like the European Social Fund and the Youth Guarantee since it is at a sub-state level where active employment policies are applied, including social innovation and equality policies.
European policies undertaken for many years to tackle climate change are among the most ambitious in the world: the European objectives of the 3X20 (-20% of CO2 emissions, +20% of renewable energy production, -20% of energy consumption, all by 2020).
But while the United States has turned its back on the Paris agreements of 2015, Europe must take the initiative again. In this context, the EDP reaffirms its conviction that the transition to a green economy must represent the third industrial revolution,creating millions of jobs in Europe and worldwide, and makes the following recommendations:
The EDP’s second priority is the fight to preserve biodiversity: a European ambition for it to attain the same level of importance as climate change. The EDP would like to ensure full awareness of this situation and would recommend the following:
The EDP, while recognising the added value provided by European agriculture, supports the development of a new sustainable, efficient and productive model of agriculture combining ambitious economic and environmental objectives for the benefit of farmers, consumers, rural communities and the environment.
The EDP would like to see sustainability, innovation, food security in all parts of the Union, competitiveness and tackling climate change as the key drivers of the reform.
Moreover, the budget for the Common Agricultural Policy should be sufficient in order to ensure adequate funding for its objectives and to avoid any possibility of renationalisation in the future.
The EDP supports a Common Agricultural Policy that is fair to all farmers. However, we are aware of the fact that natural conditions, costs of production and general living standards are not the same everywhere in Europe. And this must be taken into account in the redistribution of support. We therefore consider that an EU flat-rate payment system would not fully reflect EU agricultural diversity. The CAP should also reflect the objectives of the European social pillar in the fight against rural poverty and unemployment.
We support the continuous orientation of the Common Agricultural Policy towards the market and not the return to failed policies, insisting that this should not be made at the expense of food security and quality, animal welfare, the environment or undermine farmers’ ability to earn a fair income for the delivery of their products to the market.
The EDP is in favour of a Common Agricultural Policy that promotes a variety of agricultural models and supports a gradual transition towards farming methods that minimize the use of plant protection products and replace them with environmentally friendlier alternatives, ensure high animal welfare standards and increase traceability, ensure sanitary and phytosanitary standards, preserve and restore biodiversity and tackle food waste. These measures should be accompanied by concrete Union targets and indicators, where feasible
We support a future Common Agricultural Policy which emphasises the importance and encourage the development of food quality schemes such as geographical indications, in recognition of the added value provided by European agriculture. EU quality products are part of EU culture and heritage, represent an enormous European asset worldwide and are key to boost rural economies and SMEs
In conclusion on the CAP, the EDP believes that investment in innovation, digitalisation, education and training are vital for the future of European agriculture - to “link what we know to what we grow”.
The Common Fisheries Policy is a key policy for the Union and compliance with all the provisions should be necessary in order to protect our fishermen’s jobs and the marine environment. A properly functioning control system would contribute to the viability of the whole sector; a special attention should be given to the approval of the new protocols on partnership agreements already applied in the fisheries sector . Brexitis likely to have a significant impact on shared fish stocks and market access, which is why a fisheries agreement is a priority.
Creating an integrated system for sustainable mobility, which is efficient for users and within the framework of an internal, open and competitive market for entrepreneurs, is a priority objective for the EDP because:
The EDP’s proposal includes three elements:
The Union has to influence its neighbourhood and the world by promoting peace, stability, prosperity and security. To achieve significant results, we need a coherent and active foreign policy. The EDP argues that the EU and its Member States should speak with one decisive voice on the major issues of today’s world. The current situation of weak policies does not reflect the true potential of the Union. We should further revise our internal rules of decision making and engagement in international affairs to become truly effective and more respected, to transform the Union from a soft power to a global player.
The future European foreign policy should be based on a crucial fact: Europe is not only a continent, not only a political and cultural area, not only an economic area, but above all, Europe is a worldwide conflict resolution tool. This is the way we are seen all around the world, and our foreign policy must be based on that. We came from a secular ‘war territory’, with ‘hereditary enemies’, into a peace and development democratic entity, whose purpose is to be a ‘peace builder’.
In the world, the United States remains our ally and an important interlocutor, but we must resolve through dialogue and persuasion the issues currently raised concerning trade and tariffs. On the other hand, Russia and its role in the world cannot be overlooked. There are aspects of conflict and of important cooperation between European Union and the Russian government which we should continue working on with determination. With the emerging global powers our trade agreements and active diplomacy are essential. In this respect, the common foreign policy should focus on a genuine partnership between the European Union and the African Union.
Our neighbourhood policies should be pursued more vigorously. We have to engage more actively with our Western Balkan neighbours. We have to convince them to abandon nationalistic rhetoric, to respect good neighbourly relations, to embrace whole heartedly democratic standards and reform their economy and administration.
The EDP supports the position of the Greek Centrists’ Union (Enosi Kentroon) calling for the Greek people to decide in a referendum, after the national elections in Greece, on the definitive name of FYROM, since the Greek citizens were not consulted before the Prespes Agreement was signed.
Regarding the situation in Cyprus, a European solution necessarily implies the withdrawal of the Turkish army and settlers as well as the abolition of the system of guarantees by the States that are involved, a system that has in the past paved the way for military intervention.
Further East, the Ankara government pursues an aggressive policy abroad and an authoritarian policy within its borders. It should be clear that all forms of aggression against EU Member States including Cyprus and Greece or non-EU countries such as Syria and Iraq, must stop. Turkey has to recognise the existence of the Kurdish people and grant them the necessary degree of autonomy..
Our Eastern Partnership is essential, especially with partners with whom we have signed Association Agreements (e.g. Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova), but also with other partners which have different needs and perspectives (e.g. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus). Equally, our Southern Neighbourhood which is more diverse cannot be overlooked. We must find realistic and tailor-made solutions to attract North African and Arab countries near us. The Union should continue engaging in the Middle East peace process. Eastern and Southern dimensions of our external policy action should be balanced.
The defence policy of the European Union relies first and foremost on the implementation of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PeSCo). This instrument was established by the Lisbon Treaty, which introduces the possibility for a core group of European Union states to develop their collaboration in the field of defence. It was activated in 2017 by a large group of 25 Member States (excluding only the United Kingdom, Denmark and Malta). The PeSCo enables a group of Member States to take reciprocal commitments regarding the increase and the coordination of their defence expenditures, to the participation in the European weapons cooperation programmes and the strengthening of their armies’ operational capacities. A second mechanism has meanwhile been set up, the European Defence Fund, in order to finance research in the military field (€13 billion). And in June 2018, the European Intervention Initiative (EII) was launched, bringing together 9 countries to conduct joint external interventions.
In addition, a model for regulating and defending cyberspace on a European scale should be sought. Indeed, cyberspace has become a place of confrontation where offensive actions against the computer systems of States, critical infrastructures or companies of strategic interest have become daily and can now absolutely and irrefutably impact our defences and internal security, as well as causing systemic effects on the functioning of our societies. There is no doubt that these attacks will soon become lethal. Thus, the EDP must become a force for proposals so that, at European level, an effective criminal response to cybercrime is provided, a shared culture of IT security is promoted and contribute to a reliable and secure digital Europe.
Today – and in recent years – security constitutes the primary concern for all the citizens of the European Union, especially following multiple terror attacks on European soil. The terrorist threat is changing constantly and rapidly. It is a polymorphic, endogenous and exogenous threat. It is also a multifaceted threat as there exists a multitude of forms of terrorism: the so-called “Islamist” terrorism but also extreme right and extreme left terrorism. If we would like to effectively f ight against this threat, that attacks our European values, we have to provide effective, multiple and coordinated answers!
The terrorist threat concerns us all: it affects the European Union as a whole as the terrorists can very easily cross physical and intangible borders! Thus, it is essential to give European responses so that our Union can build a real space of freedom, security and justice.
Our recommendations are as follows:
Europe is facing one of the greatest migration challenges since the Second World War. The causes are known: changing geostrategic interests, armed conflicts, dictatorships, human rights violations, poor governance, environmental degradation, climate change, endemic poverty. The measures adopted in recent years have been unilateral and have yielded few results at a high cost. These are specific measures that have shown that the effects of immigration cannot be treated separately. Migration requires a comprehensive and integrated approach that addresses challenges while exploiting the benefits of immigration. Local and regional levels must be integrated into decision-making processes. Regions and local authorities are indeed close to possible problems, needs and the real situation of the labour market. This knowledge is a key element in humanising migration policy.
This new and comprehensive approach of the EDP should be based on the following axes:
We must reform Schengen. The EDP supports the establishment of common standards for controls carried out at the external borders and the establishment of an integrated system for the management of these borders. High seas search and rescue programmes and the f ight against criminal networks involved in the trafficking of human beings must be carried out in a coordinated manner and Frontex’s actions through Eurosur (European Coastal Surveillance System) must be intensified, allowing Member States to share images and data on the situation at external borders in real time.
Prevention at source is fundamental to curbing the massive arrival of immigrants on European coasts. Such cooperation must take place in various areas to manage migration flows in order to guarantee peace and security, promote democratic consolidation and stimulate economic growth beyond development assistance. The new Migration Partnership Framework Programme approved by the Union in July 2016 was positively evaluated in September 2017, so we propose to take this programme forward, deepen its implementation in priority countries and extend it to more countries. With regard to the deployment of experts in countries of origin and transit, the Union maintains military and civilian training and democratic support missions in several countries, which should be expanded and deepened. Finally, we support awareness raising and the dissemination of accurate information in countries of origin on the risks and costs associated with irregular crossings and stays in Europe, relying on the emigrants themselves who have had these terrible experiences.
Almost 90% of migrants who reach Europe’s coasts reach them through the intermediary of local mafias linked to the various organised crime organisations around the world involved in the trafficking of human beings, drug trafficking or money laundering. It is therefore necessary to consider a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and crossborder approach, strengthening operational cooperation to investigate, prosecute and sanction these activities, monitor their financial flows and use technological developments to detect fraud in the field of documents, intensify the mechanisms provided for in the Action Plan against Trafficking in Migrants and in the framework of Eurojust on the Smuggling of Migrants in order to identify obstacles in the field of prosecution and judicial cooperation.
An effective and human-centred return policy is a key deterrent to illegal immigration, both for immigrants and for mafias and international criminal organisations. At the moment, the return policy is not fully effective and traffickers know this. It is therefore necessary to improve these mechanisms applied by Member States in a very disparate way. We should start by intensifying operational cooperation and the exchange of good practices between Member States, EU agencies and migrants’ countries of origin. Member States should make greater use of the potential of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency by giving it the right to repatriate rescued immigrants to ports in safe countries, as well as the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund to support return activities. To this end, Frontex’s human resources should be increased, given that the target of 10,000 members in 2027 is too far away. It is also essential to make a clear legal distinction between the responsibilities and rights of humanitarian NGOs, European agencies and Member State authorities.
The refugee crisis has proven that the current system is inadequate to meet needs. Asylum seekers are not uniformly processed from one Member State to another. “This encourages secondary movements, «asylum on demand»”, abuses of the asylum system and the submission of applications in several countries already saturated by the current migratory pressure, which has led some of them to re-establish controls at internal borders. There is a need to review asylum rules to ensure that responsibilities are shared and that no country is under any further migratory pressure to provide better conditions. The reform would make the asylum system more efficient, making it easier to combat abuses. The revision of the system should allow for greater consistency in asylum procedures, in the conditions for obtaining international protection and in reception conditions. The reform of the Dublin Regulation, a key element of the common asylum system, must be completed because it determines which country is responsible.
One of the main priorities of the new Parliament will be to ensure that European commercial interests are best served in a more transparent and democratic framework. The European Union must be more responsive to customs barriers and demanding in terms of compliance with standards. In addition, the current model of negotiation of free trade agreements by the European Commission in complete secrecy is no longer tenable.
On the one hand, citizens feel dispossessed of the subject: the leaders validate negotiating mandates with general indifference, authorise the ratification of the Treaty on elements falling within the competence of the European level, and then stimulate a citizen debate for the ratification in Parliament of the elements falling within its competence. Depending on their national practices, some member states involve their parliaments and public opinion to a greater or lesser extent during the process. Citizen re-appropriation is therefore essential at a time when free trade is becoming a real social issue.
a) We must reinvent a citizen re-appropriation of free trade by affirming to public opinion the key role of the European Parliament as a tool for democratic scrutiny of agreements (by ratifying them) and by involving national parliaments as tools for democratic scrutiny of their executives (who validate the negotiating mandates and agreements negotiated by the Commission). These debates must take place before giving a mandate to the Commission, so that they will be more transparent and constructive. The European Parliament must also develop new procedures to stimulate an informed citizen debate that respects the diversity of opinions, for example through a citizen digital platform.
b) Promoting, new generation agreements at European level > that are genuine tools for environmental transition by making the Paris Agreements a sine qua non condition without which the agreement becomes null and void. This will constitute a direct risk for all those who betray their climate commitments and reflect the European Community’s commitment: free trade, yes, but not just any kind of trade.