Editorial: Europe must change
The rise of the euroskeptics, far right and extreme populist parties – which according to the polls may win a quarter of seats in the European Parliament….
The rise of the euroskeptics, far right and extreme populist parties – which according to the polls may win a quarter of seats in the European Parliament on Sunday’s elections – must concern the European leaders. The crisis may have entered a manageable phase, the member state economies may be improving at a gradually but slow pace, but the people are still suffering.
With more than 26 million unemployed and employment relations in many countries under threat, populism has found fertile ground. Beyond the financial uncertainty about the future though, there is a significant social justice problem in Europe as well as a serious matter of democratic legitimacy. The income gap widens, social exclusion increases and the protection of vulnerable groups is constantly shrinking. The exclusively use of fiscal discipline to tackle the crisis may have saved the euro, but it also created huge social – and political – problems.
Europe, a unique experiment in contemporary political history, was created, developed and expanded with democracy, social and individual rights and the welfare state being the shared foundation of its member states. These conquests must be supported, they must be further developed. The dissatisfaction documented in almost all countries and which will be expressed by abstinence or voting for anti-European parties, must not be ignored or underestimated. The answers to be given must not be opportunistic and antagonistic, nor can they emerge from the intergovernmental councils.
The day after the European elections must prompt a discussion of generous reforms in European institutions and the financial and monetary union. It is the only to convince the skeptics that their sacrifices are not in vain and that they may hope for a better European and individual future.