"This year's Europe Day finds us breathing a sigh of relief as the outcome of the French presidential elections and earlier on, the Dutch general elections, is keeping Euroscepticism and far-right populism at bay. It is indeed a moment of great joy for the future of the European project, but there is no room for complacency", stressed PES Group President Catiuscia Marini, President of the Umbria Region (Italy), ahead of the 9th of May.
"It would be reckless of us ignoring the millions of Europeans who cast their votes in anger. We have to address the multiple sources of citizens' discontent because their message is loud and clear", she emphasised, reminding that progressive local and regional politicians are best placed to fight populism and Euroscepticism on the ground by keeping communication channels open and fostering genuine dialogue with people. "We have to remind them of the immense added value of the European construction as a unique project of peace and prosperity, which we can take forward only if we work together", she underlined.
Marini also called for a shift in Europe's direction, with the social dimension being put as its very heart. "We must sure that we continue to build a European Union based on hope for everybody, on fundamental rights, solidarity, social justice and a project of sustainable living", she said. "Europe needs now, more than ever, to be united and to stand tall in the face of the many and new challenges ahead of us", she concluded.
Several PES Group members are celebrating Europe Day by organising events in their cities and regions, highlighting the importance of a strong inclusive Europe and showcasing how European structural funds can make a difference in people's lives on the ground.