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Sopot Declaration 2016

Sopot Declaration 2016

Values are the foundation of United Europe

The European Communities and then the European Union gave Europe more than
70 years of peace and prosperity. The idea of integration allowed the West to rise from the ashes of the war and heal its deep wounds. Instead of battling, Europe set on
a course of building a culture of cooperation and joint decisions, while respecting diversity and different interests of the states.

Europe entered the third millennium on a wave of enthusiasm following the end
of the Cold War and the collapse of the Eastern Block. This enthusiasm paved the way
for an enlargement of the European Union, uniting the West and the East of the continent and letting it “breathe with both lungs” again.

Yet this great enlargement coincided with a rising tide of scepticism towards the European integration project.  A constitution of the European Union was drafted, but adopting it proved impossible when it was rejected in referendums in France and the Netherlands in 2005. Ever since that time, Europe has been drifting.  It has been hit with the global economic crisis, the Eurozone crisis, the events in Ukraine and the downturn
in the relations with Russia.

For over a decade now, Europe has been losing momentum, overwhelmed
by the mounting challenges. We have been hit hard by the migration crisis and by acts of international terror. Politics is awash with populism, bringing fateful effects,
best illustrated by Brexit. Nationalist and protectionist attitudes are resurfacing,
and successes are appropriated by politicians. Many Europeans are asking themselves: What does the future hold for us? Is European integration a viable project still?          

This is why we have to say again what Europe we want, what Europe we dream about:

Europe that stands united: Not just by shared interests in a globalized world but also by shared values. Solidarity is crucial: the willingness to offer support in difficult times, the ability to find common ground despite the differences. Solidarity is also trust among citizens, states and politicians. It is honesty, without which there is no freedom
and no democracy.  It is responsibility for ourselves and for what we do for others.

Europe that is strong and secure:  This can only be achieved by having a clear vision of our shared future, a single market and a competitive economy that grows and drives prosperity.  Policies must be coordinated, and the institutions – with mandates conferred by the citizens – must operate effectively.

Europe that is thinking:  Not just about today, but also about tomorrow. Unafraid
of the future, willing to make good use of its potential, using crises as catalysts for new energy.  Sensible in choosing a position between Euro-enthusiasm and Euro-scepticism.

Europe that is open: Open not just to the flow of ideas but also to migration, effectively controlled by well-protected external borders. Protecting its four fundamental freedoms: the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons.  Europe that does not become a closed fortress but that instead rises up to the challenges by finding solutions suitable for all of its members.

Europe that belongs to its citizens:  In two senses – by focusing on the issues that matter to the citizens most, and by giving the citizens a greater share in the government.  Let us build a Europe of positive emotions, a Europe that we will care about, a Europe whose future we will hold dear.

Europe that offers good work:   We are now witnessing great changes, often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.  An unprecedented fusion of technologies is looming ahead. It will generate great changes in the economy, in business models, in production, and most of all in work – its nature and its everyday realities.

The current institutions, practices and processes are unable to keep up with dynamically changing technology, economy and society.

We need modern labour relations, and that requires modern education, effective social dialogue, good management of migration and demographic processes, as well as a new approach to social welfare systems.

This is our declaration: we will work to prepare our businesses, economies and societies for the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution. It need not be a threat. We can use it as an opportunity for sustainable, responsible and inclusive growth of Europe.

 

EFNI 2016, Sopot, 30 September 2016

Download text in pdf: Sopot Declaration 2016_30.09