Papadimoulis provides an alternative vision for the future of Europe
Dimitrios Papadimoulis MEP, Vice President of the European Parliament worries that removing Britain from the continental bloc will shift the balance of power within Europe and force a rethink of its role in the world. Pushing for an inspiring alternative vision for the future of Europe, he proposes that the European Union should build a new model that advances the role of the European Parliament, while cooperating with the European Commission and the European Council
The result of the British referendum was a huge development in the history of the European establishment. The conditions under which Britain will leave the EU will be the subject of negotiations in the next few months. However, at this stage a growing number of citizens still lack convincing answers about the future of the EU.
Conservative, far-right and xenophobic forces in the EU are cooperating closely, forming an asphyxiating setting for the European citizens that see a Union that distances itself from its founding principles. Lack of transparency in decision-making, the increasing intermingled fusion between politics and financial interests, the failed austerity politics and the continuous incapacity to deal with the structural, almost existential problems of the EU are among the major problems that progressive and democratic forces are called to address efficiently. This is a long, complex and demanding process that takes a specific plan and strategy to put forth, necessitating a binding involvement of the EU citizens who can no longer be spectators of the future developments.
British and European citizens are puzzled
British and European citizens can hardly understand where the EU is heading. The refugee crisis, the economic and monetary policies, youth unemployment, de-escalation of investments in many regions of the EU and the imbalanced policies of regional funds are all elements of this big turmoil.
Furthermore, irresponsible and catastrophic decisions of both British and European politicians are hardening the ongoing fragile balances and nourishing fractious politics. An eloquent example is that, since the day the British referendum was announced until when it is was done, there were neither debates nor exchange of arguments and different views on the pros and cons of Brexit, both by the British political parties and the EU altogether. Fear and narrow-minded approaches prevailed, with citizens missing the chance of getting properly informed. Therefore, a big number of British and EU citizens never understood the real implications of the final outcome.
Growth and Stability Pact has to be revised
One of the major, institutional pillars of the EU and the eurozone is the Growth and Stability Pact. Its provisions proved to be counter-productive and obsolete as a growing number of member states can neither keep their public deficit below 3% nor maintain their public debt in sustainable levels. These provisions cause a number of problems in public policy, leading to the imposition of extra austerity, further weakening macroeconomic indicators, and thereby leading to the complete renunciation of the current policy framework.
The Pact has to be revised and adjusted as it impedes social and economic development and reproduces a culture of sanctions that neither feeds good relations between member states nor solidifies a bona fide approach. No progressive politician will want a European Union, which operates under the threat of sanctions or a Union with divergence and a multi-speed model, where financial interests influence decision-making and citizens are not in the core of policy-making.
The European Parliament to assume a more active role
Progressive and democratic forces of the European Parliament ought to be cooperative in the coming period in order to define the elements of the agenda and stand against the neoliberalism that reigns in Europe, threatening the survival of the entire European establishment.
Brexit prevailed for many reasons with the most striking one being the negative perspective of a big part of the British electorate over Berlin and the taking over of decision-making by Brussels. Younger voters from urban centers clearly stood for Bremain, acknowledging the gains of being part of the single market and taking advantage of the open borders policy in education.
Nonetheless, concerns of both “Bremainers” and “Brexiteers” from the different social and professional groups, should not be underestimated and should find their place at the heart of the debate over the future of the EU. The EU is a monumental achievement, but we need to take into account how many mistakes we’ve made and how some of our major economic and social policies of the last decade were often misleading. All these have led to the rise of euroscepticism and the empowerment of political forces that want the dissolution of the EU.
As leftist and progressive forces, we are called to give convincing answers to the challenges of our era and the deep concerns of the citizens. Our efforts should start from the need for a “better Europe” with growth, social cohesion and justice. Moreover, we should start building on a new model that advances the role of the European Parliament as the only elected body of the EU, without downgrading but cooperating with the European Commission and the Council on a new, common vision.