Brussels committee unveils five-year plan to save the EU

Guy Bentley
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The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has unveiled its plan to rescue the European Union.

The EESC's Action Plan for Europe - Five years to save the Union, is nothing but ambitious in its goals. With just 31 per cent of European citizens saying they have trust in the EU, the EESC certainly has its work cut out making the positive case for Europe.

"We have five years to rebuild the European Union, to make it a competitive and fair place to live that has at its heart the welfare of all generations", said EESC member and rapporteur for the Action Plan for Europe Cristian Pirvulescu.

The document focuses on three areas which the EESC consider to be the EU's is weak points and proposes the solution to such weaknesses is a substantial deepening of European integration. The three pillars of the EESC's response to the growing tide of euroscepticism across the continent are economic, social and democratic.

Economic union

The EESC emphasised that it was vital to respond to fears over unemployment and Europe's lacklustre economic performance not with nationalism but with "European action".

If the EU is to prosper and avoid the disastrous mistakes of the past a true economic and monetary union must be created. Specifically the EESC propose the creation of a joint European investment programme, tighter coordination of fiscal policies and the creation of a common system of automatic stabilisers and the completion of the single market.

Social union

The goals for the EU in the coming years should not be just be increasing growth but fairness, according to the EESC. The consultative body called for stronger social fundamental rights and a comprehensive new social agenda for Europe.

Democratic and civic union

To instil a sense of active citizenship and democratic innovation the EESC proposed that a European Convention on Participatory Democracy and Active Citizenship be held in 2015.

The core of the EESC's message was one of greater solidarity. EESC president Henri Malosse said "70 years of peace do not come by chance" and expressed hope that the European Action Plan would become the lynchpin by which European priorities are set.

The report's recommendations could not be more different from the remedies for Europe's ills being proposed by UK politicians.

Eurosceptic parties are set for major gains in this year's European parliamentary elections, with Nigel Farage's UKIP currently in first place at 31 per cent, according to a Sky news/YouGov poll.

On Sunday, David Cameron told the BBC's Andrew Marr show he was "upbeat, bullish and optimistic" about the prospect of renegotiating Britain's relationship with the EU.

Cameron said the most important change was ensuring the goal of "ever-closer union" enshrined in the treaty of Rome did not apply to the UK, a radically different approach to the one suggested by the EESC.