By the SDG Watch Europe and a broader coalition of CSOs
The foundation of the European Union is one of the most impressive peace projects in modern history. A region was created proclaiming human dignity, respect for human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law as its core values.
Along with maintaining lasting peace among its members, the EU also brought cleaner rivers, protection against chemical pollution, parental leave, quality education and free movement within the Schengen region.
Despite the European Union’s great legacy and mission, European decision makers’ response to the financial crisis, to combating climate change and environmental degradation, to halting growing inequality and the undermining women’s rights, to scandals such as those in our food system and Dieselgate, and to increased migration by closing our borders to those in need, have not only run contrary to the core values of the EU but also rolled back some of the historical gains we have fought for.
People feel that the economic and financial interests of the wealthy are prioritised over the common good. We are confronted with the impacts of austerity – growing poverty and inequalities, deteriorating access to healthcare and especially youth unemployment – while large companies are allowed to circumvent paying fair taxes. Urgent issues go unsolved, such as the climate crisis and air pollution, which kill hundreds of thousands of people. In short, people in Europe are being left behind and not everyone shares in the benefits of the Union.
Furthermore, in the European Union we have so far been unable to develop a common and human response to migrants and refugees. We do not ensure respect for their human rights. In addition, the space for civil society and trade unions to act in defence of fundamental rights, freedoms and environmental protection is shrinking in many countries across Europe.
In this context, many Europeans feel frustrated and have lost trust in the capacity of EU institutions to respond to their needs. The growing support for nationalist and xenophobic political forces across Europe is a worrying indicator of this discontent and a severe threat to democracy and our core values.
Recognising the challenges of the current situation in Europe, we, as citizens, should not limit ourselves in debating the Future of Europe to ‘Do you want more or less Europe?’, rather the focus must be on our future needs and our rights and ‘What kind of Europe do we want?’.
That is why 200+ civil society organisations all around Europe have united to bring people together to discuss the “Europe we want”, and to put this on the agenda of the forthcoming European Parliament elections. We strongly believe in a European project based on Europe’s core ethical values and sustainable development: democracy and transparency, social and environmental justice, human rights, the rule of law, equality, and solidarity. These values must be at the heart of all policies. This means fundamental changes from today. We want European policies, rules and standards that do what they were intended for: protect and safeguard well-being and health, ensure safety and freedom for people and protection of the climate and the environment. We want policies that support and serve present and future generations in and outside Europe.
Read the whole manifesto here: https://www.sdgwatcheurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Manifesto-for-a-Sustainable-Europe-for-its-Citizens.pdf