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SOTEU promises big on refugee crisis – actions must follow

Refugees

The President of the Party of European Socialists Sergei Stanishev reacted to the European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker’s State of the European Union speech.

“The State of the European Union address given by President Juncker today was a strong, European speech, from a committed European. At this difficult moment for the European Union, he reflected the European values which we all feel, of solidarity for refugees arriving at our shores.

We may often disagree, but I am glad that in this Mr Juncker is supporting European Socialists and Democrats proposals for a common European asylum policy. Europe must act in this humanitarian crisis and create a permanent mechanism of relocation to share the burden. The refugees coming to Europe do so to seek shelter and a safe haven. It is the responsibility of all European Member States to provide them with that, and also to integrate those refugees, and provide them with prospects for the future, for jobs, education and a safe place in which to prosper. I support the use of EU funds to do so.

Simultaneously, it is vital to address the root causes of this migration – and create political stability in the Middle East and Africa. I commend my colleague the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini for her visionary work to institute a strong EU foreign policy and welcome the new emergency trust fund which will allow her more resources to do so further.

We have long been promised action from Mr Juncker on Europe’s social issues. Last year he called for a ‘social triple A’, now he tells us social is at his heart. Yet Europe needs these words to be turned into action. The socialist family is fighting the corner of vulnerable Europeans who bear the brunt of social dumping, downwards wage competition, precarious work and poverty. We heard statements of intent and principles from Mr Juncker but these will be worth nothing if they are not backed up by concrete actions for Europe to protect its citizens and their welfare systems.

Mr Juncker spoke of completing the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in order to achieve economic recovery. For us in the PES this does not go far enough. EMU reform will not achieve its aims if social cohesion, solidarity, and sustainability are not also acknowledged as equal goals of European economic and monetary policy. We are working with senior politicians in our family to find new progressive solutions to these issues. More austerity is not the answer.”

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