Strasbourg 14/09/2016


Speaking on behalf of the group, President Gabi Zimmer MEP said the European Union has two stark choices: genuine reform or a disaster waiting to happen:

“This is about whether to stick with the status quo and manage the deficits that will only lead to the decline of the EU; or move forward with a new social and democratic EU. From our point of view, the EU has got to be profoundly reformed based on real democracy and a stable social pillar.”

She continued, “the house of Europe has to be liveable for everyone – we need job security and affordable housing among others. “Young people have to see a better future. Therefore, the Commission has to do much more against unemployment, poverty and homelessness.”

With regard to a social pillar for the Union, Zimmer said that “we don't believe in the Commission’s promises anymore. The EU is totally focussed on its global competitiveness. The Commission cannot talk about social security while basing its policies on flexible jobs and low wages.”

“It’s always the citizens who have to shoulder the burden of this strategy including public debts, cuts in public investments, the privatisation of public services and goods. What Europe needs is a common unemployment benefit; a common European minimum income. Concrete solutions and answers – that’s what we truly need in the EU,” Zimmer implored.

The German president described the Union’s predicament as a vicious circle if nothing changes. She also cited nationalism as the greatest threat to the Union and that certain member states are fostering its growth to the detriment of the continent.

To counter this litany of malaise, the German MEP says genuine democracy and citizens´ participation as well as accountability at the very top of the administration would be a good start:

“The Union has got to be democratic – really democratic. Juncker´s proposal that Members of the European Commission should take part in elections misses the point – it is better for him to work on the European Citizens´ Initiative and allow it to become a real instrument for democracy.”

“The citizens have got to be involved in the project. They have got to be participants. They don’t want decisions to be taken over and above them!”

Zimmer also blamed former Commission President José Manuel Barroso’s toxic legacy of cosying up to lobbyists as one reason why trust in the EU elites is so low. In her concluding remarks, Zimmer commented on the proposed European army and the controversial EU passenger name record (PNR) agreement with Canada:

“I don’t think our citizens feel any safer if the EU acts like an overexcited teenager, pretending to be one of the big boys with military hardware. Instead, people are getting the impression that we are looking to start a war!”

“Finally, Mr Juncker said that he doesn´t want to renegotiate agreements with Canada such as CETA. Does the same apply when it comes to PNR which, as the ECJ Attorney General said, violates basic and data protection rights of EU citizens?,” asked Zimmer.

Meanwhile, João Ferreira MEP directed the blame at Juncker for serving the interests of the minority at the expense of others:

“When ‘Business Europe’ looked at the agenda for the next summit, they noticed how prominent European big capital will feature in the Council conclusions. These are the interests that you serve!” he said pointing at Juncker. “People want jobs with a future and good wages. But they are constantly coming under threat and being blackmailed by those at the top – like the sanctions for Portugal. We need to do away with Juncker and Barroso. Goldman Sachs is never going to do anything to champion the workers and all these fly in the way of reality and our freedom,” said Ferreira. 

Marisa Matias MEP went further – singling out the Commission president for his double-standards: “Germany has violated the limit of 6% for external surpluses since 2007 and was warned in 2013. Yet Germany keeps ignoring it and has even increased its surpluses to record values. Meanwhile, France had a budget deficit of 3.5% in 2015 and will continue to violate the deficit limit in 2016. Yet neither will be punished because they are Germany and France.”

“Portugal wasn’t given this special treatment and must lower its deficit to within the rules. At the same time, it’s suffering badly due to sanctions imposed on accessing the European funds. THIS is the reality of the EU. This is the part that Mr Juncker ignored in his speech. Mr President, don’t you feel ashamed?!” Matias asked Juncker.


GUE/NGL Press Contact:

Ben Leung  +32 22 83 2299 / +32 (0) 470 880 965

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20

European United Left / Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)

European Parliamentary Group


Democracy & Ethics & Economic Justice & The Left News ·

Why voting matters!

Rights & liberties & The Left News ·

Left MEPs on the front line to end trafficking in human beings

Economic Justice & Employment and workers' rights & Social Justice & The Left News ·

Left Drive Progress in Declaration on the Future of Social Europe