11 May 2017
Fighting Eurosceptic populism starts by addressing the local impact of globalisation

Fighting Eurosceptic populism starts by addressing the local impact of globalisation

Plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions

The PES Group’s First Vice-President, Markus Töns, Member of the North Rhine-Westphalia Regional Parliament (Germany), reacted today to the intervention of Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission's Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, who had joined CoR members for a discussion on the 'Reflection Paper on Harnessing Globalisation' (presented the previous day by the European Commission). It follows up on the European Commission's 'White paper on the Future of Europe', presented on 1 March.

Commenting on the Reflection paper, Töns criticised the lack of concrete proposals for legislative action. "We expected more ambition in terms of fairness and we would have wished that the Commission comes up with a proposal to complement the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund with another more preventive tool", he pointed out.

"Likewise, the Commission needs to make greater efforts in terms of territorial assessments of globalization policies and to improve transparency and democratic control in the development of fair and balanced international trade agreements", he stressed, underlining that fears in link to globalisation were, according to a recent study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, one of the main causes of growing populist tendencies in Europe.

Töns was also critical of Mr Katainen's negative stance towards the idea of a "Buy European Act", aired by the newly elected French President, Emmanuel Macron.

The debate was followed by the adoption of a CoR Resolution on the European Commission's White Paper on the Future of Europe, which takes up a series of PES requests, including: highlighting the joint project of an "ever closer union" and the EU's values and objectives as defined in the Treaties, the key role to be played by the cohesion policy as a main tool for reducing disparities and fostering solidarity, ensuring upward social convergence, the call for a substantial EU budget based on credible own resources and a deeper, fairer and more inclusive European Monetary Union, including a fiscal capacity complementary to the EU budget.

The CoR will provide further input to the debate on Europe's future in shape of an opinion on "Reflecting on Europe: the voice of regional and local authorities to rebuild trust in the EU" (co-rapporteurs: the CoR President and the CoR First Vice-President, Markku Markkula and Karl-Heinz Lambertz), to be adopted in late 2017/early 2018, ahead of the launching of the campaign for the European elections of 2019.