Today is a cause for celebration, and as we look back it is difficult to imagine that this year added significant challenges to an already difficult terrain. That which had been causing a lot of anxiety in the run up of June 2016, materialised when the British people narrowly voted to exit the European Union.
The refugee crisis continues to cause a rift between member states, and the threat to the rule of law is not subsiding in several parts of the Union. A string of terrorist attacks have rocked member states and citizens feel increasingly on edge. The constantly looming Greek financial crisis also serves as a symbolic reminder of the economically deprived Europeans that are not necessarily feeling the effects of economic recovery on the continent.
CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger stated: “Solidarity is what Europe needs right now and we will achieve it through putting the development of a real social dimension at the heart of a European future. What citizens want most and first and foremost is social and economic fairness”.
However, Europe remains defiant and the growing menace of populism has been defeated through the democratic exercise of elections. The recent victory of Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential elections will perhaps pave the way for a new Berlin-Paris agreement on further ambitions and needed reforms. Whether or not the president-elect Macron will be able to inject reforms that include a social approach with an adjusted macroeconomics and fiscal governance framework, giving room to investments in human capital, accessible and affordable quality public services and quality employment, remains to be seen.
“CESI has ever since called for an upwards social cohesion, not least through increased social investments. The economic costs of inequalities are too high. In order to create wealth, growth and resilience in times of crisis, we have to invest in people. The benefits of social investment clearly align with the Rome Declaration pledge for a social Europe that fights poverty, social exclusion, unemployment and discrimination”, Romain Wolff, President of CESI, underlined.
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