tThe latest reports on DigiTallinn have shown that, despite two intense days of negotiations and some relevant amendments passed, the Councils of Ministers did not dare to go beyond the bare minimum and take another important step towards a wider, fairer and more inclusive European project.
With key amendments passed on the Council’s COMPET formation regarding the currency used when buying a product outside one’s country in Digital Single Market and consumers privacy, and FAC generally on the right track regarding PESCO and CARD initiatives, the pressure will mainly fall on the Work-Life Balance Directive discussed by the EPSCO ministers. In a post-crisis EU with an increasingly ageing population, and where the breadwinner-homemaker dichotomy is rapidly fading away, ensuring decent provisions for flexible working arrangements and carers’ leave is paramount for the well-being of EU citizens.
Although there is no development without productivity and economic development, there is also no productivity and economic development without healthy, fulfilled, happy and socially supported people.
The economic emphasis given to the Europe 2020 strategy set in motion measures to foster job creation and competitiveness in several areas. This cannot, however, be a truly successful approach if the EU overlooks the social needs of its citizens. Moreover, with the EU being, as the name indicates, a Union, bigger collective efforts between member states are needed to provide for the needs of affected groups – in short, the emphasis should be made on the idea of solidarity. Sharing knowledge and expertise makes the EU stronger, better prepared to address future problems and, ultimately, a better “leader by example” to the international arena.
Growth, competitiveness, health and social inclusion go hand in hand. To push for, and to promote, a greater focus on erasing inequalities is crucial to achieve the EU’s goals until 2020 and beyond. The Council of Minister has largely failed to do so.
Dear Members of the European Parliament, the ball is on your court now. You don’t represent national interests, but European citizens as a whole. Make them proud of their representatives and ensure the best outcome possible for their daily lives.