The time for new tasks has come

The Commission finalised its contribution to the informal EU27 leaders' meeting in Sibiu

Photo: EU Jean-Claude Juncker

Preparing its homework for the informal EU27 leaders' meeting in Sibiu rather in time, the Commission finalised on Tuesday its contribution to this landmark event that will take place on 9 May. In fact, the EU executive announced a number of policy recommendations for how Europe can shape its future in an increasingly uncertain world, which also contain the next five-year strategic agenda.

The Commission underlined that the time has come for new policy orientations and new priorities, with the European elections being held in less than three weeks and the forthcoming shift of the political leadership of the EU institutions.

The duty of every generation is to change the destinies of Europeans, present and future, for the better, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker said, expounding: “To make good on our enduring promise of peace, progress and prosperity.”

“The challenges we Europeans collectively face are multiplying by the day and for Europe to thrive, the EU's Member States must act together. I remain convinced that it is only in unity that we will find the strength needed to preserve our European way of life, sustain our planet and reinforce our global influence,” he asserted.

As Commission's Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas recalled after the College sitting, back in March 2017, the Juncker Commission launched wide-ranging debate on the future of Europe with a White Paper published in the days around the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

In the same year in September, in his State of the Union speech, President Juncker presented a road map for a more united, stronger and more democratic union. In the wake of the Brexit announcement, he called for a summit in Sibiu to mark the start of the EU at 27. More than 1,600 citizens' dialogues were organised with the participation of the Commission.

The Sibiu summit will be a culmination of this process, Schinas said.

On Tuesday, two days before the summit, President Juncker will come to the Commission's pressroom to present to the EU correspondents the political messages that he will be taking to Sibiu.

The Commission's vision for 2019-2024 focuses on five dimensions. One of them is Protective Europe, based on building effective and genuine European Security Union and moving towards a genuine European Defence Union, to make defence cooperation within the EU the norm rather than the exception. More proactive moves are proposed in managing migration, which requires comprehensive action at every level and putting forward a genuine EU approach.

Upgrading, modernising and fully implementing the single market in all its aspects will lead to Competitive Europe. The Commission stressed the need to focus research and innovation on the ecological, social and economic transitions, to invest in key European digital capacities and to work together to boost Europe-made human-centric artificial intelligence. Deepening the Economic and Monetary Union and supporting the transformation of the European labour market, whilst ensuring its fairness, is also proposed.

The other point, which insists on continuing to deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights, concerns Fair Europe. The main tasks here are achieving social inclusion and equality by addressing regional disparities, minorities' needs, gender issues and the challenge of an ageing population, among others. Shared values such as the rule of law should be upheld, but fair and modern taxation policy is also needed, as well as high-quality, affordable and accessible health care and access to quality, energy-efficient and affordable housing for all in Europe.

In the Commission's view, Sustainable Europe needs to modernise its economy to embrace sustainable consumption and production patterns and to reinforce efforts to fight climate change. On the to-do list is the shift towards a more resource-efficient circular economy by promoting green growth, bioeconomy and sustainable innovations. On the Energy Union's front, big remaining challenges have to be addressed.

Outlining the fifth dimension, the Commission foresees leading role of Europe in the world, through consistent and strong support for a multilateral, rules-based global order, with the United Nations at its core. Suggested priority is to develop strong relations with close neighbours, based on a clear balance of rights and obligations. For achieving Influential Europe, a strengthened international role of the euro would also increase Europe's economic and monetary sovereignty.

The authors of the vision stressed that both the priorities they set and the way they explain and engage with Europeans will be decisive in making the Union more united, stronger and more democratic.

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