For the sake of Europe
When the French President Emmanuel Macron presented his proposals for the future of Europe, his second attempt after the Sorbonne speech, we could not help but smile. Were there civil servants in the Elysée Palace who had pasted and copied what was already the programme of the other president, the one of EESC, who had given his presidency the theme of “rEUnaissance”? We will probably never know, but in any case it shows that the EESC and civil society in general are not only in touch with the pulse of Europe, but also with the pulse of citizens and know what they expect.
In so far as there is something to criticise in Macron's proposal, it is that – for him – civil society is once again not a relevant interlocutor: he usually addresses (selected) citizens directly. And yet, the French are the ones who brought the notion of “corps intermédiaires” to Europe and the institutions. This is not really an export model, but a relevant concept largely shared in our understanding of civil dialogue alongside Article 11 TFEU.
The EU does not need to be reinvented as it already exists. However, discussing how it can be improved so that it can respond better to global and social challenges, to the aspirations of its citizens, this is what makes the concept of “rEUnaissance” so interesting. The EESC will have the chance to present its vision of Europe's future ahead of the upcoming Sibiu summit and this should be more than just the usual lengthy list of long-standing requests. Make Europe more sustainable in all respects: economic, social, environmental, coupled with a more resilient and inspiring democracy.
Opinions are relevant. However, in the end we need to show our commitment not only when travelling to and from Brussels and in meetings. An excellent opportunity to show commitment is the March for Europe on 24 March. We are counting on you! Our message will be clear: we will not allow those seeking to destroy the EU to claim they are in the majority. They are in the minority!
Co-Chair of the Liaison Group