Europe is at a crossroads. Shaken by the Greek crisis and shocked by indecision over migration, European citizens have been hurt in their expectations for a better future. We need to heal these wounds with an ambitious agenda and by delivering concrete results in the months ahead.
Civil society, through the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), has demonstrated its ability to participate in the European Union. It is, and will remain, a committed partner in its support of the Council, the Commission and the Parliament.
With its contribution to the Commission work plan for 2016, the EESC has already made its position clear. It is demanding deeper economic integration, a determined fight against climate change with a strong energy union and a new policy on migration based on an increased democratic participation.
Indeed, time is ripe to accelerate economic integration and convergence between the EU member states. Urgent measures are needed to tackle high levels of unemployment and to encourage investment which will generate growth and demand.
This goes hand in hand with the development of a European social model, with common rules for the protection and equal treatment of workers. This is the only way to create a real Union of progress.
Climate change is also accelerating the need to transition to a low-carbon economy based on renewable energy. To complete the energy union, the security of energy supplies as well as the issue of energy costs, need to be addressed.
Europe is an attractive place for those seeking freedom and peace. Let us not devalue the European dream by giving in to selfish reflexes. Europe must develop a migration policy based on respecting human rights and the core values of solidarity and humanity.
Those very values are the founding principles of our Union of people and we should make sure we remember that.