European Commission must keep its promises to achieve a more social Europe
Brussels, 14 September 2016 – Earlier today, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered his State of the Union address before the Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, taking stock of achievements of the past year and presenting his priorities for the year ahead. While Mental Health Europe was pleased to hear President Juncker calling for a more social Europe at the very beginning of his address, we regret that he failed to mention the European Pillar of Social Rights (Social Pillar) even once during his 51-minute speech.
The Social Pillar was presented last year as a central element of Juncker’s project and it is deeply concerning to see that it has been left out of this year’s strategic priorities. The “last chance Commission” – as President Juncker likes to call it – has much work left to do to rebuild trust in the European project. An essential part of this is rebalancing Europe’s focus on the economy to include the social perspective. “Europe is about its people and citizens. Building an inclusive society, promoting positive mental health for all and fighting stigma and discrimination are critical to achieving a fair, equal and ultimately more prosperous Europe,” said MHE President Nigel Henderson.
Mental Health Europe calls on the Commission to ensure that: – A ‘social Europe’ is more than a rhetorical device, but a concrete set of proposals, delivered through the Social Pillar, to ensure a fairer and more inclusive Europe for all its citizens – Civil society is consulted meaningfully and on an ongoing basis to reflect the diversity of voices on the ground and bridge the perceived democratic deficit between citizens and the Institutions President Juncker was right in saying that ‘Europe is not social enough’. It is now time for the EU to act.
We urge the Commission to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights and show leadership in promoting a fairer, social and more inclusive Europe. The European Pillar of Social Rights needs to be a convincing and powerful tool that can improve the “European way of life” that President Juncker so passionately defended during the State of the Union. “Let’s support the EU Commission in making the European Social Pillar the next European success” added Nigel Henderson.