+++ Citizens' Europe +++ Area of Freedom, Security and Justice +++ Migration and Integration +++ Democracy and Rule of Law in the EU +++ EU Social Dimension +++ Economic Governance +++ Common Market +++ Economic Policies +++
In the course of European unification, the Member States of the European Union have agreed to increasingly transfer powers to the European level. Through integration within the EU, many and important political decisions are now made in Brussels.
This process often passes unnoticed by the general public. This has led to consistently waning acceptance of the EU among the general population and in public discourse.
The challenge lies in making the EU's achievements and their day-to-day importance clear to the public, because the EU's contribution to peace and prosperity are not sufficiently appreciated, even though the EU develops policies to the benefit of citizens.
In addition, the European project must also continue to develop. In order to address democratic deficits, the right of national parliaments, the European Parliament and of ordinary citizens to participate in the decision-making process must be strengthened.
Many social and environmental issues are affected by the European internal market, which, rather than establishing minimum standards, uses deregulation to enforce free, but not always fair, competition. There is also a lack of stronger economic and taxation policy coordination among the Member States, such that in times of crisis individual Member States tend to act unilaterally instead of looking for joint, concerted solutions.
In a Europe without borders, a genuine area of freedom, security and justice is also necessary. Citizens therefore have a right to expect that the EU acts to counter threats to their freedom and justice, such as organised crime and terrorism. However, great care must be taken to ensure that internal security measures are limited in their scope and duration and that they are based on the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, which will finally become legally binding with the Treaty of Lisbon.
The EU Office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Brussels holds numerous seminars on these topics to inform multipliers from the Member States in Brussels and allow them to exchange ideas with decision-makers. This helps identify deficits, develop proposals for improvements and draw them into the decision-making process.
The EU Office also organises political education programmes in the European Parliament in Strasbourg which target a broad range of participants and reach several thousand citizens every year. This helps highlight possibilities for participation in European processes and ultimately enhances trust in the European level.