EK blog: How to restore people’s faith in the EU?

Hearing the concerns of the European citizens brings the EU back to its roots, writes Tellervo Kylä-Harakka-Ruonala, member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

Tellervo Kylä-Harakka-Ruonala is Member of the Employers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
Tellervo Kylä-Harakka-Ruonala is Member of the Employers’ Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

The discussion on the future of the European Union often sounds like a power struggle between the institutions. “Brussels” is for instance blamed for intervening too much and in wrong issues, while the Member States are criticized for poor commitment for the common good.

Wanted: concrete benefits

Outside of the Brussels “bubble”, we face, however, an even more burning challenge – the lack of trust by citizens on the European project. This is not just a matter of failed communication. On the contrary, frustrated Europeans want tangible benefits to be seen in their every-day life.

So what do ordinary Europeans call for? In my view, they want the EU to get back to basics – ensure well-being for the people. In essence, it’s all about jobs and employment. Interestingly, this is where the needs of the citizens and businesses meet: jobs can only be created and offered by successful companies.

And this is why the prerequisites for job generation have to be addressed very seriously. In other words, we should do our utmost to make sure that European businesses can develop, invest, operate and trade successfully. That is the only sustainable path to improving employment, creating well-being and ultimately restoring people’s faith in the EU.

Let’s make the best of the megatrends

It is inevitable that both businesses and working life will undergo profound changes due to the ongoing megatrends, such as digitisation, robotisation and introduction of artificial intelligence.

Fortunately, policy-makers need not to invent new tools to help cope with these phenomena but rather make best use of the innovativeness of market actors. Consequently, the following familiar policy principles are more relevant than ever:

  • Promote economic renewal through innovation and development of skills!
  • Ensure international competitiveness in terms of cost burdens!
  • Avoid regulatory or administrative obstacles!

For true effect, these principles need to be adopted as the key approach covering and connecting all policy sectors and institutions. This would bring the EU back to its roots: creating prosperity and well-being for our continent. At the same time, it would lay the ground for the further deliberation of the future of the Union.

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