As the European elections approach next year, polarization and fragmentation are in the air. Some European conservatives are acting irresponsibly and putting populist approaches ahead of pragmatism. The left is attracted by economic populism. We know that the Europe of tomorrow can only be built from the political centre.
This week, liberals, centrists, democrats and reformists gather in Vienna, hosted by the NEOS party, and reaffirm their commitment to fight proudly for the European elections. It is a pride in our achievements and our results, with the promise of a stronger Europe that meets the expectations of all EU citizens.
With the adoption of our “Vienna Declaration”, we outline the steps needed to meet the expectations of EU citizens over the next eight months. We call on our coalition partners in the European Parliament to reaffirm their commitment to our mid-term agreement, to reject extremism and to focus on implementing the reforms demanded by the citizens before the European elections.
We see that democracy is in decline globally. This is unfortunately also true in Europe. In the State of the Union debate next week, the European Commission must join us in reaffirming its commitment to fighting democratic backsliding and illiberalism wherever it lifts its head – whether in Budapest, Warsaw or Rome. We need stronger rights for EU citizens, the rule of law, independent media and free and fair elections. We will not compromise on this.
Democracy cannot thrive in an environment of general anxiety. We know that households are feeling real economic hardship. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and its aftermath reduced revenue. This is why we are taking steps to build the economy of tomorrow, by strengthening the purchasing power and innovation of citizens.
During the State of the European Union (SOTEU) address, we want the European Commission to commit to reshaping our European budget and focusing European investment on key strategic sectors. We want a European Commission committed to defending the interests of the European middle class.
The cost of living crisis facing European households will be tackled by the liberalization of the European economy. We believe we can do much more for our single market and our SMEs. The European Commission should launch a new initiative against bureaucracy and to enforce the rules of the EU single market, because it is the basis of our prosperity.
This summer has once again highlighted the imperative to fight climate change. This can only be achieved with a strong centrist coalition willing to meet the needs of rural and non-rural communities, ensuring that the costs are shared fairly and the choices made are pragmatic. At SOTEU, we want a clear commitment to finalizing key reforms.
Driving a wedge between communities and creating culture wars for political purposes leads nowhere. The green transition is an opportunity to create green growth, to create the technological solutions of the future, to create new jobs in Europe. No one should be left behind.
Stability and prosperity can only be based on increased European cooperation. In the SOTEU debate next week, we urge the President of the Commission to reinforce the commitment of the European Commission to the challenges of our time, from the completion of the European Green Deal to a comprehensive pact on migration and asylum.
From health to our common defense and security, Europe is stronger when it works together and adapts to new realities. The illegal war waged by Russia against Ukraine has shown the strength of our solidarity. Ukraine is fighting for our freedoms and our support is unwavering. We have promised the Ukrainians a European destiny, and this must be kept. Enlargement must go hand in hand with reform. The demands made by citizens at the Conference on the Future of Europe must be met, including by real progress towards treaty change and an end to unanimity in foreign and security policy decisions.
European policy is important. The 2019 European elections were a pivotal moment in the political evolution of the European Union. Not only has the decline in voter turnout been reversed, young pro-Europeans have reacted to Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and the rise of the far right by joining in the millions to vote for a European Union stronger, anchored in the center.
Next year’s European elections promise to be as deep as those of 2019. Voters will have a clear choice. Renew the European vision of a confident, modern and reinvigorated Europe, with liberal and democratic centrism at its heart; or a coalition of chaos between the right and the far right, with far left extremists undermining our common potential. The rebuilding of a Europe full of hope for the future; or a retreat to a fragmented and weakened European Parliament.
Those who believe in central government, those who are pro-European, have a political home in the liberal and democratic family of Renew Europe. We call on those who share our priorities to join forces. A renewed European Union will be built from the political centre.