While millions of Europeans are struggling to make ends meet, the European Commission has its head in the sand.  

The European Parliament had on its agenda for 17 October a debate on the European Commission 2024 work programme, setting the EU’s priorities for the upcoming year. What should be an exercise of democracy and a clear response to the continent’s current issues, soon became a tick-the-box routine for the Commission, completely detached from the real world. 

MEPs received the work program last minute and had to push the debate for half an hour, so they could have more than 14 minutes to scrutinise and prepare constructive proposals for how the EU should look in 2024.

 “It’s utterly unacceptable and hopefully, there will be an apology forthcoming for treating the European Parliament in this way. There are no excuses,” Left MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Vice President of the European Parliament, told Maroš Šefčovič, the commissioner present for the debate. 

The titles from the work programme, such as “An economy that works for people” or “The European Green Deal” look great on paper, but conceal a lack of action. 

“Have you done well in dealing with inflation? Have you done well in dealing with the energy crisis? Are you proud of the respect for the rule of law within the European Union? You haven’t told us anything about the growing social inequalities,” Papadimoulis continued.

“In a few months, there will be European elections and the citizens want more action from you, less talk, because you are only feeding the anti-European, populist far right,” he added. 

In 2022, 95.3 million people in the EU were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, according to Eurostat. That’s 21.6 % of the EU population.

“The fight against poverty and exploding prices should be the priority objective that should occupy you, rather than competitiveness. Because, last time I checked, you can’t eat competitiveness,” co-chair of the Left in the European Parliament, Manon Aubry, said in the debate.

“The competitiveness doesn’t allow you to keep warm in winter either. What are you going to do for the half of Europeans who don’t want to turn up their heating when they’re cold? Competitiveness doesn’t put a roof over people’s heads, either.

What are you going to do for the homeless in Europe, whose numbers are equivalent to the population of Marseille? There’s nothing in your work plan on these issues.”

She accused the Commission of prioritising businesses and their profits at the expense of the working class. 

“You’re too busy planning the return of austerity, which will further weaken our schools, universities and hospitals. Where is the European Union’s action to set up a European industry that protects our jobs and serves the ecological bifurcation? Nowhere! You’re too busy signing free-trade agreements to bring in beef from Brazil or milk from New Zealand. You’re too busy scheduling your environmental break, shelving a vitally important regulation on hazardous chemicals and reauthorising glyphosate.” 

“So, to put it plainly, Commissioner: you’re very busy, but far less concerned with our lives than with the lobbies and their profits.” 

Left MEP João Pimenta Lopes accused the Commission of only mobilising more resources for the arms industry and war. 

“The people don’t want more war, they want peace,” he said. 

“The cost of living and low-wage policy, as well as the heavy consequences of rising interest rates are the concrete problems, getting worse for people and about which the Commission doesn’t say a single word.”

“We can have different policies on which another Europe can be built,” he concluded. 



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