On 12 May 2014 an Action Plan was adopted in the Plenary of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). This Action Plan aims to deliver a set of solutions to restore EU citizens’ lost confidence in the European institutions. The Plan includes three main areas: (1) An Economic Union (2); a Social Union; (3) and a Democratic and Civil Union.
With public trust in the European Union reaching an all time low; a deep economic crises with even deeper social consequences; and the EU elections around the corner, it is clear to many that things have to change in Europe.
Most of the proposals of the EESC Action Plan are definitely not new and may seem reasonable to the general public:
An Economic Union
In its Action Plan the EESC strongly believes that a genuine Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) must be created as a matter of urgency, as the EU’s fundamental problems still remain. Key cornerstones here include a joint European investment programme, better coordination of fiscal policies, the creation of a common system of automatic stabilisers and the completion of the single market.
A Social Union
With the economic crisis and its social effects, many citizens fear that the European social model is at stake and that market integration dominates the EU Agenda. The EESC believes that economic growth has to go hand-in-hand with social progress. Europe needs a stronger social fundamental rights agenda and a comprehensive new social agenda. For instance they advocate for the establishment of standards for a minimum income across the EU and the inclusion of a Social Progress Protocol within the Treaties, in order to guarantee that the EU economic liberties serve the social rights of Europeans and not the other way around.
A Democratic and Civic Union
Democratic political organisation rests on two pillars: a civic one and a political one. These are linked by the concept of active citizenship. The EU cannot survive the economic and institutional crisis without taking bold steps towards becoming a democratic political community. To this end, the EESC urges the European institutions to move swiftly towards advancing democracy and civic participation. For instance they propose an immediate review by the European Commission of the Minimum Standards for Consultation and also a European Convention on Participatory Democracy and Active Citizenship to be held in 2015.