Brussels – The European Union will seek to protect its citizens while boosting the economy, fighting climate change and bolstering the bloc’s global role, according to a draft of its strategic agenda until 2024 seen by dpa.
The document sets out priorities for the next European Commission, which is to take up its work in November following EU-wide elections last month. A high-stakes political race is under way to appoint the next commission president.
The draft agenda, prepared for a meeting of EU leaders next week, stresses that “first and foremost we must ensure the integrity of our physical space,” drawing the lessons from a migration influx in 2015-16.
CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels declined in 20 of the 28 Member States
“We need to know and be the ones to decide who sets foot on EU territory,” the document adds. It also vows to fight terrorism, cyberattacks and hybrid warfare.
The draft agenda stresses the need to tackle the “existential threat” of climate change.
“We urgently need to step up our action,” it says, while noting that this must take account of “national circumstances” and be socially just.
The issue was a key topic during the European Parliament elections, delivering a boost to green parties across the bloc in the wake of recent youth climate protests.
Greenpeace stresses the climate crisis
But the Greenpeace campaign group slammed the EU for merely giving the climate crisis a “polite mention.”
“European leaders are feeling the pressure to talk big on climate, but their ‘strategic agenda’ is more of a collection of buzzwords than an emergency response to humanity’s greatest threat,” said Greenpeace EU director Jorgo Riss.
The draft agenda calls for the EU to be “more assertive and more powerful” on the global stage, at a time of uncertainty and change to the global order. “This requires us to be more united in the stances we take,” it adds.
The EU should “keep the door open” for new members, the document also states.
It stresses the need to promote a level playing field, particularly in the area of trade – where US President Donald Trump is tearing up the rulebook and using the threat of trade wars to extract better terms from trading partners.
Turning to the economy, the paper calls on the EU to fully exploit its single market and harness the digital transformation to boost its economy.
The draft paper, which may still change over the coming weeks, includes pledges to uphold the principles of democracy, transparency and the rule of law – ideals that have come under strain in some member states.