The State of the Union 2018 – How to Fail to Address Key Issues

Statement by YES Presidium

The 12th of September 2018 was the day when the EU triggered article 7 for the first time, finally standing firmly against the violations of democracy and the rule of law in Hungary, taking a concrete step towards an unambiguous position on this matter.  The #StateOfTheUnion could have made the day even more memorable. Instead, President Juncker decided to reel off the goals achieved by the Commission that he leads and to make out of the clock change the most concrete point of the one-hour long speech.

The #SocialDimension of the EU was barely mentioned in a speech that could have portrayed the potential steps forward for the European Union. President Juncker chose to focus on defence and security. If we were to choose a goal achieved, in fact, we would have chosen the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. If we were to draw the next steps for the EU, we would have spoken about its implementation to be. Europeans need a Plan for its Social Dimension, for the EU to become a place where opportunities are pursuable by all because the most vulnerable ones are protected, and privilege doesn’t oppress merits. Where education is the most powerful tool of liberation and empowerment.

More concreteness was needed when addressing the accession perspectives for the Western Balkans too, but at least now the Commission acknowledges that inclusion is the way for the European Union to be safe and to prosper. EU should be factor of stability and peace, that is why we urge concrete plan of integration for the Balkan countries. Balkan region is not only geographically part of Europe, but also historically. We should perceive peace and progress in this region, in order to perceive peace and progress in whole Europe.

We also appreciated that the President addressed the unsolved democratic deficit that affects the EU. But the President failed to address clearly other threats to the Future of Europe.

The threat to the European Union are the nationalists who let human beings dying while fleeing wars, persecutions, climate disasters or poverty. The threat to the people, in Europe as all over the world, are those who fuel wars, those who refuse to combat climate change, those who exploit other humans and disrespect human rights. Migrants are not the threat, nor a threat at all. The only way to wisely manage the ongoing structural migration flows is to implement a rights-based approach and to invest in the labour market policies and the welfare system for the integration of third-country nationals. The nationalist narrative must be rejected.

But none of this was mentioned. Once again, austerity and the hardships that the people in Greece had to go through were celebrated as a success story. Austerity killed the hopes and aspirations of millions of young Europeans, hitting particularly harshly the youth and women. President Juncker forgot about that, as he forgot of the despicable speculation of the financial markets and the utter ruthlessness that was adopted by the EU institutions to deal with the Greek debt crisis.
This is what should have been said, to change the course of the EU policy regarding debt crisis.

For us, the principle that should have been the core of the speech, as it should be the core of the Future of the European Union is clear and one only: SOLIDARITY.

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