When, over human history, catastrophes as painful as World War II take place, there is a need to turn the rudder around to avoid the repetition of those events. What in the beginning was the European Economic Community is now, in the 21st century, the European Union.
Deep changes introduced in Europe, along with progress of medical science and drastic improvements in our quality of life, made us aware of the necessity for retired persons and pensioners to unite in order to make their voices be heard in defense of their presence as active citizens at an economic, social and political level. This is how our Group was born, and this year we are celebrating our 20th anniversary.
While it is true it would be logical to stop to take stock of our achieved goals and urgent tasks that need to be accomplished, I am afraid we must focus in the latter rather than in the former.
The current situation of crisis in Europe is much more serious than a negative cyclical downturn. In my opinion, we are in a very serious process of revision and questioning of our social identity as European citizens. What, after many years of effort and sacrifice was called Social Rule of Law, Welfare State or Society, or more simply social solidarity State and is typical of European sociopolitical culture, is in serious danger of disappearing in southern European countries and there is a grave threat in the northern states.
A chain of factors explains it: corruption, scandalous and rampant, affects the highest government levels and is an evidence of the process of social solidarity breach.
A breach that started in the background of a financial and banking crisis paid with all the people’s money but from which the citizens and taxpayers have not been compensated.
The introduction of the virus that consists of acting according to “every man for himself, and the last one turns off the light” is causing such destruction that what was a European distinguishing mark (social management of education, health care and careful planning of actions related to social policies) is now disappearing.
Under euphemisms such as streamlining credit and financial policies, flexibilisating labor markets or dynamisating work policies there is hidden unemployment, rampant impoverishment, social dislocation, privatization of education and health care conceived as business and disappearance of support structure and social policy management.
The European Group has witnessed all these changes and increased its foresight and action capacity. This way, apart from quickly establishing new statutes (Presidence of Mr. Chretien) more appropriate for current exigencies, it has undertaken the necessary economic adjustments without increasing fees (every affiliate still pays 1 € per year), and without increasing the price to pay for our annual Euromeetings, so we facilitate income for the different National Federations, we make communications faster and more accessible for everyone. To sum up: we act as Europeans.
However, paraphrasing Kennedy, it is not a moment for debating what the Group can do for us, but for asking what I can do for the Group and then do it.
It is the moment to show we are citizens aware of our rights and obligations; to show we do not renounce the former and we assume the latter.
We are European citizens, willing to build together our coexistence and capacity of action until we reach a full European Union; we are members of a sector of population that sees themselves as active European citizens and aims for designing social protection policies for balancing the current situation and preventing the ones that will affect the next generation.
Those who practice “every man for himself” are dead. It is time to stand up for “together we can”, that is, for a European Group that today is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Diego Carrasco Eguino
Interpreting Headteacher at Alicante University