Your voice counts on the Road to Sibiu
Less than nine months before the European elections, national and regional political events are being increasingly scrutinised to get the pulse of the European demos.
Wake-up–calls are regrettably not lacking, from the anti-immigrant violence which erupted in the German city of Chemnitz this August to the rise in importance of the Swedish far-right in the recent national elections. Not to mention the victories of Eurosceptic coalitions in Italy or Austria, as well as the Brexit vote two years ago which will have a divisive impact as we move closer to the polls on 23-26 May.
This challenge is far from being an EU-only problem, as a quick glance to our American allies or our Turkish neighbours will remind us.
I do not agree with those who say that these developments as signs of the end of our world-order based on cooperation, trust, free trade and human rights.
On the contrary, I firmly believe that we have the tools at our disposal to challenge these developments. We must courageously address the root causes of this general 'Angst', fuelled amongst others by increasing socio-economic inequalities and a perceived gap between the established political system and the citizens.
Civil society organisations are key players in this endeavour. They reinforce social cohesion and active democracy, promote civic education, provide space for dialogue and joint action between people of diverse socio-economic backgrounds, increase participation and empower active citizenship. Your actions count.
I would also like to call all of you and your member organisations to engage in the EESC's Road to Sibiu and beyond roadmap, which will raise the voice of civil society in the run-up to the elections and the debates on the Future of Europe.
Co-Chair of the Liaison Group