Europe is a beautiful project. But I’m not in favour of the Europe of today

President Juncker said earlier this week that Europe has made progress under his mandate. Let me disagree. My evaluation is that Europe has never been so unequal.

The differences in wealth between member states and within member states has never been so big. Europe today is not a project of social progress, but a project that is serving capital and financial markets.

Everybody talks about migration over the last 10 years from outside Europe. 2.5 million people received asylum in the EU over the last 10 years. They are escaping war, terrorism and poverty. Another 2.5 million are in the process of applying for asylum or have had a request turned down. That’s 5 million out of a population of 500 million Europeans. We’re talking about 1%.

Countries like Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East are talking about 30% of migrants in their countries. But we in Europe, the richest area in the world, are making a big fuss about helping these people that make up just 1% of our population.

The biggest migration has been inside Europe – 20 million people have moved from the east to the west in the last 20 years. Bulgaria had
almost 9 million inhabitants in 1991. Today it has about 7 million inhabitants. The Eurostat forecast for 2050 is 5.5 million inhabitants. This is a sign that Europe is not equal.

The next European elections are crucial because we face a lot of disappointment among citizens and workers created by deregulated globalisation – companies can move around but there’s no social contract regulating this to stop workers losing out.

We are seeing companies putting pressure on our salaries and working conditions in Spain, Italy and Germany because, if we don’t agree,
they’ll move to countries where they can pay lower wages. People who are already finding it difficult to make it to the end of the month are now being asked to accept lower wages and worse working conditions.

Europe has created this disillusionment because the single market allows capital and finance to move around freely without rules which
protect workers. We don’t only need to make Europe economically and financially united but you also need to make Europe socially united. Not by putting pressure on wages in the west, but by increasing salaries and working conditions in the poorest countries. 

Is Europe today the Europe that we want? Where there is no future any more in your country and the only future you have is to move. Europe needs to find an answer to this issue.

Trade unions are the largest social movement in Europe. We are the ones that organise millions of people so we have a major role to play
in moving Europe in the right direction. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favour of Europe – Europe is a beautiful project. But I’m not in favour of the Europe of today.

Europe needs to change and we are the ones that need to take the lead, together with the political parties who support our view. We need to take leadership in changing Europe for the better to ensure peace and social progress.