PRESS RELEASE: Pillar comment on State of the European Union address

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Sustainable development and environmental protection must be put at the heart and centre of the Future of Europe, says Ireland’s leading environmental coalition.

Following today’s State of the European Union speech by European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker on his vision for the Future of Europe, the Environmental Pillar has called for a more democratic, just and sustainable EU. [1]

The Future of Europe White Paper was launched by the European Commission in March and presents five possible directions for the EU’s future. [2]

Mr Juncker’s five scenarios, however, are deeply disappointing, too focused on trade, investment, and the Eurozone with little connection to the real obstacles faced by the EU.

We need a bold vision – an alternative sixth scenario – that puts social and environmental well-being at the core of the Future of Europe.

The Pillar – a coalition of 26 national environmental organisations – is part of a 250-strong pan-European alliance offering an alternative vision for a more democratic, just and sustainable Europe.

This alternative vision for Europe – Scenarios 6: Sustainable Europe for its Citizens – should shape the debate on the future direction of the European Union. [3]

The vision outlined by the NGO alliance promotes a future for Europe in which sustainability sits firmly at the heart of the European project.

The NGOs also call for the introduction of common standards that would ensure access to clean air and water for European citizens, renewable and community-based energy production, and safe and healthy food.

Regarding environmental well-being, the vision proposes a number of goals to be achieved by 2025, including the full implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.

This should be achieved by decarbonising the European economy, enhancing energy efficiency and accelerating the transition to clean and affordable renewable energy.

Earlier this month, the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs issued a call for submissions on the future of Europe. [4]

Written submissions should be sent by email to the following email address only: eu.committee@oireachtas.ie. The closing date for receipt of submissions is Friday 20 October 2017 at 3pm.

More details can be found here: https://goo.gl/uVLhcd

Environmental Pillar coordinator Michael Ewing said:

“European citizens deserve an EU focused on democracy and participation, social and environmental justice, solidarity and sustainability, respect for the rule of law, and human rights both within Europe and around the globe”.

“The Joint Committee on European Union Affairs now wants to hear the views of as many Irish citizens as possible on the Future make-up of Europe.

“I would encourage everyone to think hard about the kind of Europe they want and to send on their submission before the 20th October to put Ireland is at the forefront of these discussions.”

“This is a great opportunity for Irish citizens to contribute towards charting the way forward to a more progressive and inspiring new vision for Europe and building a sustainable future for the EU.

Leida Rijnhout from Friends of the Earth Europe said:

“We need a fundamental rethink of the kind of Europe we want – in some areas President Juncker seems to recognise this, but in others it is very much business as usual. It remains to be seen whether his proposals will go far enough to really bridge the gap between the EU and its citizens.

“Citizens are still crying out for a vision for the future of Europe that puts public interest, democracy, environmental justice, human rights and a strong social fabric at the core. But the Commission unfortunately remains too focused on trade, investment, the Eurozone and defense issues.”

“The United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, already supported by the EU, must be put at the heart of the Future of Europe.”

ENDS

[1] PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER’S State of the Union Address 2017: https://goo.gl/47g3ai

[2] White paper on the future of Europe and the way forward: https://goo.gl/uk3Joz

[3] Scenarios 6: Sustainable Europe for its Citizens: https://goo.gl/CNFNhc

[4] EU Affairs Committee seeks submissions from the public on future of Europe: https://goo.gl/3kohBU

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