At the European Parliament today, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has unveiled the White Paper which will chart five key scenarios for the European Union post-Brexit.
The so-called ’pathways to unity’ gives the EU’s 27 members – once the UK leaves in 2019 – five broad choices to start considering at the 25th March summit in Rome when the EU marks 60 years of the bloc. This also signals the start of a nine-month debate on the Union which will culminate at the European Council meeting in December.
The options for the potential state of the Union by 2025 range from shrinking the scope of areas of cooperation among member states or maintaining the status quo to – in a more ambitious scenario – taking steps towards a federalist EU.
Patrick Le Hyaric, Vice-President of GUE/NGL, alluded to Juncker’s remarks that the Commission does not intend to impose or prescribe these scenarios to member states:
“If what you said is true then we want to see you listening to what ordinary people are saying and to organise a great European debate about the general state of the Union.”
“The challenges are too great and too worrying not to change course yet cosmetic changes are not enough. We must rethink, reconstitute and assess the application of the Treaties,” Le Hyaric urged.
“For as long as the European Union does not concern itself with the affairs of the people; for as long as it does not take into account their aspirations for a better life; for as long as it is not a project for justice, equality, solidarity, democracy, human and environmental well-being, it will continue to be rejected.”
“For as long as it is perceived only as a system for choking Greece; or as a police force to control public expenditure; or a fortress to keep out migrants – while remaining a haven for the free movement of capital – the EU will continue to be rejected.”
“For long as Europe remains in cahoots with the business community and the financial funds to the detriment of the workers, it will continue to be rejected.”
Le Hyaric then challenged Juncker to take genuine steps in rebuilding citizens’ trust in the EU:
“The EU must launch a major European public debate leading to a European conference on democratic, social, ecological and feminist renewal in order to build a new European project. Not doing so will condemn the European idea itself. The first step should be a public consultation on CETA – the free trade agreement with Canada. This will show that Europe can be a real asset in transforming globalisation.”
Instead, the French MEP offered his vision for a more just and equal Europe – one that reflects the aspirations of the people, the workers and youth: “We must replace unfettered competition with cooperation; replace austerity with a new distribution of wealth and means of production; replace unemployment and precariousness with social security that works; and to replace the current Common Agricultural Policy with a new agricultural and food policy that takes into account employment and health. Let’s imagine a new industrial and digital policy for the future, a great project of cooperation with the countries of the South.”
“We can act to ensure that the billions of liquidity provided by the European Central Bank will serve employment projects and new public services. Let’s launch a huge plan against tax evasion and have social and tax harmonisation based on justice. The European project could revive itself by using the Fund that Mr Juncker has created towards social, human and environmental development which, at the same time, could refinance the debt of struggling member states.”
“We must not miss this historic moment, we must listen to the people and make them take part in this project,” Le Hyaric concluded.