Luca Visentini speech to Conference on Future of Europe

Luca Visentini speaking at Conference on Future of Europe, June 2021

Strasbourg, 19 June 2021

Thank you chair.

The European trade unions and workers support this Conference and are highly committed to contribute to shaping a fairer European Union that takes care of people.

When this process was launched there was a need to reconnect citizens to institutions, to overcome inequalities and social exclusion as consequences of the financial crisis and austerity policies, to cope with the challenges of climate change and digitalisation, to rebuild European democracy.

Today, after the pandemic, these issues need to be addressed even more urgently. There is limited time left, and European workers and citizens expect all of us to deliver.

We need to get out of our bubbles, go local and talk to people.  The Conference should be an opportunity for a real and in-depth discussion, with the full involvement of citizens, organised civil society, social partners.

We ask you to make sure that we are included in all fora for discussion, including working groups and citizens panels, and we will do our best to mobilise workers and businesses, at all levels, for a good and meaningful outcome.

But it’s not only about process, we need ambitious content, we need to push for radical change.

Radical change on health, safety and social protection, by strengthening public services and our welfare state, by saving jobs and businesses, without which there is no future.

Radical change in our economic model, by moving from an economy that serves profits to a social market economy that benefits people, that goes beyond GDP, beyond blind fiscal rules, to build wellbeing and better opportunities, equality and inclusion for all.

Radical change to manage environmental transformation and digitalisation through just transition. This doesn’t only mean training and reskilling, but quality job creation, universal social protection, full involvement of communities and social partners in a comprehensive governance that leaves nobody behind.

Radical change means that every person in Europe can fully enjoy fundamental rights, social and labour rights, without discrimination based on gender, age, ethnicity and migration background, religion, belief or political orientation.

Radical change means defending democratic values and the rule of law, but also social democracy, based on social dialogue, collective bargaining and workers’ participation.

Only through this radical change will we be able to defend the European project as a value worth fighting for.

Let’s make the best out of this Conference, by giving people a voice.  And after listened, let’s go back to them with ideas and proposals that can improve their way of life.

Let’s be frank, we will also need to change ourselves.  It is necessary to ensure more transparency in democratic processes, institutions must be more accountable, decision making must not to be paralysed by endless discussions, national egoisms and vetoes.

It would be a big mistake to exclude from the outcomes of this Conference a redesign of the architecture of the European Union.  We expect Treaty changes to be considered, and among those we advocate for a Social Progress Protocol to guarantee that social rights take precedence over economic freedoms in the event of a conflict.  It is also necessary for the European Social Pillar to become a building block of our social market economy.

Radical change, bottom-up participation, and concrete outcomes which make a difference – that’s what trade unions expect from the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Thank you very much for your attention.


Radical change on health, safety and social protection, by strengthening public services and our welfare state
Radical change in our economic model
Radical change to manage environmental transformation and digitalisation