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A stronger European Union in a changing world

1. The EU as a united and influential voice. At a time when the European project is being questioned and new challenges abound, from the violations of the European security order to terrorism and violence plaguing North Africa and the Middle East, as well as Europe itself, the EU has to become an ever more united and influential actor on the world stage to keep its citizens safe, preserve its interests and uphold its values;
2. Striving for strategic autonomy. This is necessary for the EU to promote its values, principles and interests. The most appropriate framework to achieving these is the rules-based global order and effective multilateralism. Foreign and security policies of the EU require deepening the trans-atlantic bond and sustainable dialogue with other key international actors;
3. Strengthening defence capacities. The EU is most effective in achieving its foreign and security policy goals when it combines soft and hard power. European defence should reflect the security concerns of all the EU Member States. It should be advanced by enhanced efficiency in Member States´ spending, through common capabilities development and enhanced civil-military synergies in the conduct of CSDP missions;
4 . Fostering effective approach to conflict resolution. The EU must engage in a practical and principled way in peacebuilding, concentrating its efforts on conflict resolution in surrounding unstable regions to the east and south. It must make a full use of tools and instruments available to it, including engagement with all players in a conflict, and, when appropriate, containment and deterrence. Supporting reform agendas pursued by partner countries within the European Neighbourhood Policy is essential for their stabilisation;
5. Promoting cooperative regional orders. As a model of such a regional order itself, the EU is best placed to promote the non-zero sum game approach to conflict resolution, including in the most divided regions. Particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, the capacity of the EU to engage with all players empowers it to promote new security architecture whereby the legitimate interests of all partners should be taken into account; the EU should further develop its capacity to contribute to the stabilisation and rebuilding of the countries in post-conflict situations.
6. Aligning EU trade policies with Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. The EU should assume a leadership role to promote fair, regulated global trade in the interest of all people e.g. a legislative proposal on mandatory due diligence on global value chains in order to provide transparency and traceability, counter unfair trading practices and uphold labour and environmental rights;
7. Enforcing forceful measures to protect European industry against unfair trade practices. With this goal in mind, pressure must be put on the Council to modernise the Union’s trade defence system;
8. Dialogue-oriented processes with the involvement of the civil society at all levels of government. This is key to ensuring the participation of trade unions and the ILO in order to ensure labour and social standards are incorporated in the sustainability chapter;
9. Responding to the consumers’ concerns. It is necessary to reinforce corporate social responsibility initiatives and due diligence across supply chains, thus enhancing consumers’ confidence in the products they buy;
10. Closer collaboration with the ILO and OECD. The EU should pursue deep dialogue with these organisations with the aim of developing a global approach to improving social and labour standards in developing countries, including mechanisms to ensure full respect for fundamental rights and the protection of minorities.
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“A stronger European Union in a changing world” is one of the priorities part of the “Building the Progressive Future Together” statement, debated during our event in Brussels on October 18-19. But the debate goes on. We’re counting on your input, so each of you can play a part in shaping our common future. It’s easy – just sign in add your thoughts to this topic.
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It is important that we strive to act as a European “system”, working together with European companies and NGOs to build sustainable partnerships with third countries. Hereby, we must focus on the human dimension of this interaction, and engage in trade, investment and cooperation projects that seriously have a positive impact on the livelihood on people in Europe and abroad, on the short and long term. Sustainability, fairness and trust must be the key of this relationship, and cover environmental, financial and cultural aspects. We must act strongly against industries that undermine these principles.

The problem with deepening the transatlantic bond (point 2), in commercial terms, has been quite worrisome for European civil society. If such deepening indeed means signing deals such as TTIP and CETA, the EU must make sure it is really listening to citizens when negotiating. The problem with such agreements hasn’t only been related to some of their clauses, including the one on investor-government dispute arbitration – that effectively would allow corporations to sue governments… The whole process has not been transparent enough, and there has not been a proper public debate on the issue. When Wallonia dared stand against CETA, many Member-States reacted negatively. At times Wallonia was really bullied. Well, there is your recipe for alienating citizens. Are citizens really opposed to trade deals? No. Are they opposed to secret negotiations and corporations becoming Leviathans? Yes. Point 9 is quite urgent, so long as it translates into effective and mandatory measures applying to companies. Regulations should prohibit the import of goods that contain slave labour in them. The USA have such legislation. Modern slavery, mainly consisting of forced labour, is rampant worldwide, with about 40 million people estimated to be affected, mostly in Asia and Africa. The EU should actively help fight human trafficking and modern slavery in the world. Points 4 and 5 are indeed important. But the EU must stop exporting arms. No compromises; no if’s or but’s. The EU must also stop importing blood oil and other resources financing conflict and human rights abuses.

As far as European Integration is concerned, Less, history teaches us, is More. One look at the past is enough to understand what the Union was built on and for : Peace in our time, cooperation between peoples, stability and prosperity for all. But those things have been stolen from us : peace have been achieved through silence, the ideal of cooperation has been used to promote a liberal agenda, stability and prosperity, which our elders rightfully considered as rights now appear to be privileges. The growing number of European leaders turning their back on the EU is nothing but the results of those dark dynamics : we never had dreams about economic cooperation though we could understand how that would allow our interactions to be even more relevant and healthy, but we can’t live in a Union of bosses and investors, of tax evasion and social dumping, of performances and failures. We need ideals to drive us forward, we need ideals to carry on with our lives, we need ideals to connect peoples otherwise divided by boarders, mountains, rivers and seas. For sometimes, waking up requires from us to dream first, we need to offer the workers and the peoples of the Union a common foundation of values and ideals that every European nations should pledge to honour and defend. Let the Union to the dreamers and the passionate! Let go of the pragmatists, of the selfish! For they are killing our Union, our ambitions, our aspirations and our hopes.

As an international student specializing in Euro-American relations from Sciences Po Paris, I live in the heart of the European Union, which is why I can share with You my first-hand experience as well as my thoughts on certain aspects. First of all, I am delighted to see Macron – the alumni of my school – as the next president of France, since he believes in stronger EU integration. Pursuing unity within the EU should be priority of every member country, because any obstructions caused by less integrated entities undermine the global position of the Union and only together we stand a chance to be competitive with the USA, Russia or China. I strongly believe, that two prominent countries working together can achieve something one could not on his own. The whole community is being greater than the sum of its parts. Such synergy reminds me that problem solving is not a one-dimensional curve, but a three-dimensional space, where one can explore the subject in many directions and come from multiple sources. I believe that the environment has a direct impact on each of us, that’s why learning and commuting in a challenging and intellectual incubator of collaborators – not competitors, is a very positive way for self-development. It doesn’t matter where you are from and what you were doing. The most important thing is who you will be you working with to achieve long-term goals. Now, close Your eyes and do not imagine 2 prominent countries, but 28. Welcome to the European Union. 1. The EU as one of the biggest and most powerful entities in the world is a major player in creating the global agenda. That is why it cannot be divided when it comes to deepening the trans-atlantic bond and sustainable dialogue with other key international actors. It should engage all of its members to contribute to the stabilisation and rebuilding the countries in the post-conflict situations not only in the countries in the Middle East, but also seeking solutions in real-time in recent conflicts such as Catalan independence referendum. Nevertheless, terrorist attacks and violence spreading on European soil tend to divide our citizens. That is why to remain a strong international player, the EU has to be effective inside its entity. A strong domestic security policy must be implemented to avoid growing fear of terrorist attacks and other gruesome incidents. 2. I have no doubts that the EU should assume the leadership role in promoting fair and global trade, however it must prepare for the raising issues such as the new Silk Road developed by China. That is why the Council has to modernise the Union’s trade defence system in order to remain European labour intact. Preferably, working side by side with ILO and OECD in order to improve social and labour standards in developing countries, including respect for fundamental rights of minorities. 3. I am happy to claim, that during last few years I had many opportunities to see raising civil involvement myself. For instance, in Poland there has not been any civil engagement since abolishing communism in 1989, and surprisingly, from 2015 we can see a true reborn of this phenomena, when people leave their homes in order to fight for their rights during peaceful demonstrations on the streets if politicians fail to represent their voters in the first place. In conclusion, we live in the world of increasing globalization and ubiquitous multiculturalism, where differences between the countries are fading. We require the stability of united world to pursue more far-reaching goals. I understand the value of unity and will do my best to pursue it. There is nothing more beautiful than the prospect of all humans working together towards a common goal. I hope I get to see it one day. Nevertheless, the main thing slowing down our development is division, which is why each of us has to individually answer the question: For whom divided Europe is an asset? I think, that this does not require any further explanation. That is why, the European Union shall do everything to prevail and protect the citizens of the Old Continent.

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