A New Social Contract for Europe
The European elections in May 2019 will be the opportunity to change Europe. Globalisation, climate change, growing inequalities, the digital revolution, migration, agriculture transformation and security threats are the new challenges of our society. This is happening at a moment when our continent is still paying the social costs of the 2008 financial crisis and when across Europe, many people feel insecure.
The status quo is not an option to face the new challenges, and nationalist illusions are dangerous. To regain confidence, and take back control over our future, radical change is necessary. Europe needs a deep review of its policies to really protect and promote a good life for all. It must guarantee citizens’ wellbeing and social-ecological progress. Europe must move to a new model of production and consumption that creates well-being for the many and respects our planet’s limits.
We want to reconnect Europe’s unity, while respecting our diversity which is our richness. As Socialists and Democrats, we want to propose a new Social Contract for Europe.
A Europe of equality and fairness.
Inequality must be dramatically reduced and the concentration of wealth and property in the hands of a privileged few must stop. A Europe of welfare with strong welfare states, social safety nets, and quality public services is crucial to preventing poverty and protecting those in need, including youth, elderly people, vulnerable workers and the unemployed. We have a duty to protect people if they fall sick, lose their job, suffer disabilities or fall on hard times. The right to quality healthcare, education and decent pensions is universal and must be defended. People of all ages have a right to work and to live in dignity. Unemployment and social exclusion must be tackled collectively, not dismissed as individual failings. The principle of equal pay for equal work at the same place must be respected. All workers must have the same rights: no job without a contract, no job without a fair salary, and a ban on zero-hours contracts and fake self-employment. We will fight for decent minimum wages across Europe. In-work poverty is morally and economically unjustifiable. We want a European complementary unemployment insurance mechanism, to support Member States in the event of a strong increase in unemployment. Effective social dialogue and trade union membership are the best way to guarantee the protection of working people and increased wages. We want a strong European Labour Authority empowered to combat social dumping and ensure fair labour mobility throughout the EU. A Social Action Plan is needed to turn the EU Pillar of Social Rights into binding rules that strengthen welfare systems, respect labour market models and improve living standards.
A free and democratic Europe.
Democracy is a founding value of the EU. It must be respected in Europe and promoted abroad. We pledge to defend and improve our democracy, empowering citizen participation from the local to the European level. Civic engagement, public accountability, and fair and transparent decision-making processes must be enhanced at all levels. We want open and vibrant societies, where individuals have equal rights and can live free from discrimination, prejudice and sexism, and with full respect of their privacy and safety. Cultural diversity enriches Europe and its people. Diversity is part of Europe’s identity and strength; the rights of all minorities must be protected. We propose that Europe Day on 9 May become a public holiday in all Member States to celebrate peace and unity in Europe. We will fight those who preach hatred, intolerance and discrimination against others. We will defend the rule of law and human rights in all Member States and ensure that the EU has all the necessary tools to do this. We want strong measures to prevent any misuse of EU or public funds, whether this happens for private profit or to reinforce political power. We will ensure that organisations protecting citizens do not face undue pressures on their funding and their right to operate. We stand against those who put our democracy under pressure through spreading ‘fake news’, manipulating public debate, or deliberately disrupting democratic exchange. Free and independent media and civil society must be supported and allowed to play their role in democracy, and whistle-blowers must be protected. Strengthening police and judicial cooperation will boost the fight against cross-border organised crime and terrorism.
A sustainable Europe that protects our Planet.
Europe must be a leader in fighting for the environment and tackling climate change, particularly as some of our international partners are falling behind. Europe must protect biodiversity on our continent and globally and stop pollution. Our vision combines the protection of our planet with the interest of all our citizens; clean air, clean water, clean energy and quality food must be accessible to all. The EU must adopt a Sustainable Development Pact with social and ecological targets to ensure that economic interests do not trump the environment. A Just Transition Fund will help to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda and Goals by 2030 in a socially fair way. We will raise the EU’s climate ambition in line with the Paris Agreement and the latest science on climate change. Protecting the environment requires the renewal of European industry to make us a leader in renewable energies and become climate-neutral by 2050, at the latest. CO2 emissions should be taxed EU-wide in a socially fair way, making polluters pay and supporting investment in affordable clean energy. By improving mobility and air quality and providing affordable and energy-efficient housing we can improve citizens’ quality of life. To deliver this, we will promote a Plan for Affordable Housing and Clean Public Transport in Europe. We will fight energy and water poverty, and guarantee accessible, healthy and good quality food, safe products and an end to damaging exposure to toxic chemicals. A reform of the EU's agricultural policy should help meet new societal demands, including sustainable production methods, better nutrition, reduced food waste, better animal welfare, climate protection and the preservation of biodiversity.
A progressive Europe with a youth plan.
Our societies will face the future with more optimism once our youth have better prospects and our elderly no longer fear insecurity in later life. Young Europeans must be empowered and given the skills to shape their future and become active citizens. The development of future generations must be built upon the principle of intergenerational solidarity. It is unacceptable that close to one in four children is at risk of poverty. Every child must have access to quality healthcare, childcare, education, housing and nutrition. We will implement a European Child Guarantee to make sure this becomes a reality. To reach our goals of full youth employment and reducing social exclusion, we will also extend the Youth Guarantee – which already helps millions of young Europeans to get a quality job, traineeship, or further education. Education is a right that must be accessible to all. We will continue to support and reinforce Erasmus+ and ensure that it can benefit people from all social backgrounds. Finally, we want European Culture Cheques to support young people’s access to culture.
A feminist Europe with equal rights for all.
Any form of discrimination is unacceptable in our modern European societies. We want a binding EU Gender Equality Strategy, through which we will continue to lead the fight to end the pay and pension gaps, combat sexual harassment and gender-based violence, and ensure that every individual has access to their full sexual and reproductive rights. Every person has the right to decide over their own body. We believe in a society where women and men enjoy the same work-life balance and equal political participation; every woman has the right to a career, just as every man has the right to raise his children and care for his family. We will be relentless in our fight to end all forms of discrimination. Europe should remove legal and societal obstacles for LGBTI people to live freely, equally and with respect.
A strong and united Europe that promotes a better world.
In an increasingly unstable world, Europe must be a beacon of democracy, peace and stability, as well as a benchmark for social justice, dialogue, multilateralism, human rights, decent work, the rule of law, sustainable development and gender equality. We must be united in the face of unpredictable and isolationist partners, and promote a different form of globalisation. At the same time, the EU should push for reform of the United Nations. We will make sure the EU includes binding social and environmental standards, human rights, consumer protection and workers’ rights in all future trade agreements. These agreements should be subject to democratic oversight, ensuring the due participation of civil society. We oppose the old-fashioned private arbitration system. We will stick to the promise of investing 0.7% of our GNI in official development assistance, and strengthen our partnerships with developing countries. We will further develop our common European defence, pooling and sharing our resources to ensure peace and security, in cooperation with NATO and other international organisations. Europe needs a fair common asylum and migration policy, based on shared responsibility and solidarity among Member States, and cooperation with countries of origin and transit. We could all benefit from a well-managed, regular and fair migration system; it can help strengthen the economy, generate new jobs and maintain our welfare system. Europe must manage migration in a more dignified, just and orderly way, maintaining effective control of its borders while fighting human trafficking and the criminal exploitation of people, and enhancing the protection of those in need of asylum. To do this, we must open safe and legal channels, support protection capacities in adjacent regions and tackle the root causes of migration, including climate change. This will require a new partnership with Africa and a comprehensive European Investment Plan for Africa. We will promote better funding of integration policies and support host cities and communities. The European elections in May 2019 are the moment to sign a new Social Contract for a Europe which protects citizens’ rights and promotes solidarity and a Europe that guarantees a better life for the many, not the few. We are in a fight for the soul of Europe, and for our common future. The Party of European Socialists will bring progress and will improve citizens’ lives in villages, towns, cities and regions throughout Europe. By supporting PES member parties, you will be supporting and building this Europe.