The upcoming European Parliament elections are taking place on 26 May. These elections are crucial. They come at a time when the rise of populism in all its guises is combining with internal and external challenges to put the European venture under greater strain. It will be an opportunity for Europe's citizens to have their say on what sort of shared future Europe should be advancing towards, as a common area to find solutions to a range of challenges, needs and ambitions.
The purpose of this round table is to identify the necessary set of European policies with which, based on a shared commitment, to consolidate European integration, continue deepening democracy and so build a stronger Europe that can provide a future of economic progress and social justice.
This commitment must extend not only to political representatives, but also to organised civil society, which must be part of the solution. Its opinions and contributions are key to upholding EU unity and securing its future, reaffirming the values of democracy and the rule of law, which are essential if the exercise of freedom is to be guaranteed in all its dimensions.
We will be tackling issues such as the future of the EU, its challenges and priorities, as well as the major role played by civil society organisations, trade unions and employers, and by political and social bodies and associations, in a changing society. The fact is that, at a time when technology, the digital and energy revolutions and migration are transforming social links and economic and employment models, we have to ask ourselves if Europe is ready for the changes that are already here or on their way.
But we must not be paralysed by this question. On the contrary, it should spur us to come up with the best possible responses which can also spark people's enthusiasm. Ultimately, the aim is to continue building and improving one of history's most successful collective projects: the European Union.