The EU Commission’s White Paper on The Future of Europe was published on 1st March. It covers five scenarios:
- carrying on as things are
- nothing but the single market
- allowing those who want to do more to develop initiatives
- doing less
- strengthening the EU on issues such as trade, foreign policy and defence
It’s striking what this is missing. The problems faced by the EU are crisply stated:
many Europeans consider the Union as either too distant or too interfering in their day-to-day lives. Others question its added-value and ask how Europe improves their standard of living. And for
too many, the EU fell short of their expectations as it struggled with its worst financial, economic and social crisis in post-war history.
If the problem is that people think the EU is remote and irrelevant, then proposals to make it still more remote and less valuable to citizens make no sense at all. In September Juncker was talking about developing a “European Pillar of Social Rights” – but there are only eighteen words about social rights in the White Paper, and those are confined to the world of work. The idea that the EU should be there for its citizens seems to have been forgotten.