The European Commission is eager to lay the foundations for Europe’s future with the help of more socially active citizens, resilient societies, sustainable economies and businesses. Most citizens in the EU-27 have faith in the European integration and hope for the future and trust in the Union’s strength. However, modern challenges require vigorous national and the EU governance’s steps to accommodate efforts for a better future.
Commission President has recently noted some new facets in the European future inspired by geopolitical transformations.
First, there appeared fundamental challenges to the European competitiveness due to high inflation; although the EU-wide efforts to bring energy prices down were successful, it is still the main cause of inflation in most member states. For example, the price for gas was over €300 per MWh a year ago; presently it is down to around €35! The President noted that the “double-digit annual growth in wind and solar capacity would most likely outpace electricity demand from 2026 onwards”, which means significantly lower energy prices for European households and businesses in the midterm.
Source: Press release in https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/da/speech_23_4873
Second, employment and skilled workforce: although it is one of Europe’s greatest assets with the record-high levels of employment, the labour and skills shortages are also reaching record levels. Therefore, it is urgent for national governance to improve access to the labour market for young people, women and regular migrants. National labour policies in prioritizing new skills need to respond to the deep-rooted shifts in modern technology, digitalisation, circular economy and societies’ demography.
Both the states and the EU institutions have to jointly address all these challenges: e.g. the EU we will convene a new Social Partner Summit at Val Duchesse together with the Belgian Council’s Presidency in 2024. The attention is to the issues of collective bargaining as social partners are both a real asset of the European social market economy and they know best about all the shifts in the labour market; their expertise and contribution is paramount.
Third, the need to reduce the bureaucracy and red tape: e.g. SMEs often do not have the capacity to cope with complex administration burden. With this in mind, the Commission will make a legislative proposal (together with the member states) towards reducing reporting obligations by 25 per cent. Besides, every new piece of legislation will be subject to a competitiveness check by an independent board and, in order to make business easier, the Commission will appoint an EU-wide SMEs envoy reporting directly to the President.
Fourth, green transition and industrial growth: Europe’s industry is great and tens of thousands of companies are showing every day that they are globally competitive and that they are eager to conquer the markets of the future. The European Green Deal has shifted the climate agenda to being an economic one, which has provided to the entire single market a clear sense of direction for innovation and investment. Thus, from renewables to electric vehicles, from green hydrogen to biotech, etc. the EU’s ambition is crystal clear: the European clean technology industry’s progress in future “has to be made in Europe”. This is why, the Commission has entered into a new phase of the European Green Deal: i.e. together with the business sector to develop a tailor-made approach for each industrial system; the starting point is a number of dialogues on “clean transition” with national industrial sectors.
Fifth, the perspective of a “completed Union”: i.e. the task of providing additional geopolitical weight and the capacity to act in a “Union of 30+”. The Commission has started working on a series of pre-enlargement policy reviews aimed at transforming existing EU institutions, the EU-wide budget and/or security guarantees and issues: hence, the President underlines, it is time to lay the foundations for Europe’s future with the EU with over 500 million people living in a free, peaceful and prosperous democracy.