During the 25th summit of Chairs of EPP-affiliated groups in national parliaments, speakers called on Europe to reach out to all citizens to shape a common parliamentary position on the future of Europe reflection paper presented by the European Commission.
Involving citizens to shape the future of Europe
EPP Group Vice-Chairwoman Esther de Lange sees major challenges: "A majority of citizens ask to be better protected against the huge changes that have been coming their way in the 21st century. We should deliver this protection without undermining the opportunities of future generations."
Member of Parliament from Latvia, Lolita Čigāne, presented her colleagues with a snapshot of the reality on the ground in the Baltics: "Young people in the Baltics have benefited greatly from the European Union. They can study and work abroad freely, and many take their chances abroad. However, most young people do not and stay behind to build up their lives not far from where they were born. Europe should not make the mistake of ignoring their experience and their ideas about the future of the EU."
Balancing economic and social progress
The meeting also focused on the importance of balancing the freedoms of the internal market with the need for protection of workers. Member of Parliament from Poland and EPP Vice-President, Rafał Trzaskowski, insisted that the importance of the internal market was paramount: "We have to look at the bigger picture and avoid breaking up our internal market. The internal market is keeping us together and is at the basis of our freedom."
Economic and social progress are two sides of the same coin. We have to shape globalisation to be able to project our values and social achievements into the future. Marianne Thyssen
National MPs and Members of the European Parliament focused on the importance of the social pillar to regain the trust of voters in times of change. European Commissioner for Social Affairs, Marianne Thyssen, said: "Economic and social progress are two sides of the same coin. The internal market and social progress are not mutually exclusive. That's why we have to shape globalisation to be able to project our values and social achievements into the future."
A fair but tough line for Brexit negotiations
The meeting also dealt with the start of Brexit negotiations and the impact it will have on EU citizens. The EPP representatives unequivocally supported a fair but tough line on citizens’ rights: “We expect more from the UK government than what they have proposed so far. All EU citizens' rights should be protected after Brexit,” Esther de Lange said.
We expect more from the UK government than what they have proposed so far. All EU citizens' rights should be protected after Brexit. Esther de Lange
Other important speakers during the 25th Chairmen’s summit were chief Brexit negotiator for the EU, Michel Barnier, Commission Vice-President, Valdis Dombrovskis, Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, Danuta Hübner, Chairwoman of the Constitutional Affairs Committee in the European Parliament and EPP Group Vice-Chairman Esteban Gonzales Pons.