During its meeting on 20/21 June 2019, the European Council adopted the EU’s new strategic agenda 2019-2024. A paper containing only a few pages, however, to which great importance will be attached over the coming years, as the strategic agenda will determine the overarching priorities for the European political orientation in the next period.
The heads of state and government have determined priorities for the developments of the European Union based on 4 main priorities:
- Protecting citizens and freedoms
- Developing a strong and vibrant economic base
- Building a climate-neutral, green, fair and social Europe
- Promoting European interests and values on the global stage
Hence, the first main priority is once again the issue of security (for instance terrorism, cyber-attacks), maintaining law and order and migration policies. Migration policies include among other the cooperation with countries of origin, effective repatriations as well as a reform of the Dublin Regulation. Unfortunately the strategic agenda does not contain any references to the protection and wellbeing of refugees. The second main priority includes deepening the Economic and Monetary Union (AK proposals, compare here), completing the Banking and Capital Markets Union (compare here), deepening the Single Market, in particular in the services sector (AK Position on services e-card and notification directive, compare here) as well as more comprehensive and better coordinated industrial policy (AK proposals, compare here). More investments in education are also mentioned.
Ways out of the climate crisis and social dimension of the EU remain vague
Only the third main priority deals with those issues, which are of key importance for the daily life of people in Europe: ways out of the climate crisis (AK Climate dialogue, compare here) and the social dimension of the EU. On a positive note, it has to be welcomed that these topics, for example the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), have found their way into the strategic agenda. However, it would have been necessary, to give these issues overarching priority and to name concrete, binding targets. Instead, the agenda does no more than provide vague phrases and a list of keywords. Correspondingly, the European Trade Union Confederation points out that the agenda would have a greater chance to be implemented if the new European Parliament would make some improvements and adopt a stronger and more precise programme to achieve social and ecological justice.
Finally, the fourth main priority refers to Europe’s role in the world, whereby an ambitious and robust trading policy, an active foreign and defence policy as well as the implementation of the Agenda 2030 get a special mention.
Important main priorities for the future of the EU are missing
The Federal Chamber of Labour has already issued a letter in the run up to the summit, naming the most important priorities from the point of view of workers. In the opinion of AK, the following 5 priorities are of utmost importance to find a social just answer to future challenges (for more details see here):
- Strengthening Europe’s social dimension (in particular new wealth and distribution model, effective implementation of the EPSR, binding social minimum standards, enactment of a Social Progress Protocol, efficient European Labour Authority, Europe-wide coordinated minimum wage policy)
- Key investment focus on Europe’s socio-ecological restoration (introducing the Golden Investment Rule)
- Tax policy for a fair Europe (combatting inequality, fair tax systems, resolution with qualified majority)
- European industrial policy (Explicit co-treatment of distribution issues, participation of labour representatives)
- Making globalisation fair (Priority of social and ecological targets vis-à-vis economic interests)