Hannes Swoboda: ‚Van Rompuy paper lacks social dimension – we need a European relaunch now‘

With ever-increasing social inequalities in Europe, soaring unemployment rates and growing right-wing extremism threatening Europe’s founding values of solidarity and cohesion, the S&D Group demands an urgent focus on European social policy and further reflection on the future of the European Union.

Hannes Swoboda, President of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament argued today that the ongoing review of European economic policy needs to be complemented by a renewed focus on social policy:

„We need a social pact alongside the fiscal and growth pacts, and we need it now! Social justice is the only effective way to counter growing right-wing extremism and xenophobia. With the social safety net at stake it is also our European values that are at stake.

„This social pact would allow us to enshrine our basic social rights at European level, including a minimum wage, access to public services, equal pay for equal work and the successful integration of migrants.

„For us Socialists and Democrats, the European social model is not an optional extra and this is why we need a social pact. Only once these preconditions are met can we talk about regulations on national economic policy. We don’t need recommendations from Troikas for the whole EU. They have already caused massive damage in several member states and are threatening to completely destroy Europe’s social welfare systems.“

He continued by criticising Herman Van Rompuy’s report ‚Towards a genuine economic and monetary union‘:

„The President of the Council will have an opportunity to prove his commitment to the strengthened investments in the eurozone proposed in the so-called ‚Van Rompuy paper‘ during the negotiations on the multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020. He could put his words into action by supporting the demands of the European Parliament for a strong investment budget.

„The idea of creating a parliament for the eurozone should be scrapped immediately. The euro is the currency of the European Union and the European Commission and European Parliament both already have authority over it. The S&D Group whole-heartedly rejects this attempt to undermine the authority of the European Parliament and the community method. Special regulations for the eurozone must not threaten the EU’s shared interests or the community method.“

Hannes Swoboda concluded by referring to the S&Ds‘ ‚Relaunching Europe‘ initiative that brought several hundred people together in Brussels this week to discuss the future of Europe:

„We had a series of debates with politicians, academics and leading figures from the cultural sphere, covering topics ranging from the economic relaunch to the role of social justice in preserving fundamental European values.

„In the coming months, we will continue the discussions with people across Europe to build and present our vision for the future. But at the same time we will continue to call for an urgent reorientation of EU policy. The worries and problems of citizens, especially on social issues, are too important to wait for new treaty negotiations.“