Podcast with the Belgian MEP, Mrs Maria Arena: “We have a social challenge in order to ensure the future of our citizens”
Mr Mattia Brazzale, Assistant to ALDA Secretary General, met Mrs Maria Arena, Belgian MEP member of the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.
Mrs Arena has a consolidated political career, as former Belgian Federal Minister, Minister of Wallonia, President of the French-speaking community of Belgium, former senator and former city councillor.
She affirms that decision-makers have a social challenge in order to ensure the future of all citizens: indeed, in her opinion the European integration has too much focused on economic and commercial sectors, forgetting the social issues, which, on the contrary, are essential. She insists saying that in these years of crisis we have left aside the social convergence.
Besides she declares that there is a need for taking own responsibilities, where it is requested: with reference to the migration crisis, she thinks that some countries cannot be left alone, but the EU should take a clear decision, and the local and regional governments have to welcome refugees, on the basis of an equal distribution in Europe. Too often, the local governments and the European institutions accuse each other, only for justifying some situations and to legitimate some unpopular decisions.
In this complex framework, she denounces the danger of populist, euro-sceptical and extremist movements, which take advantage of fears and feelings of citizens, in order to propose them easy and false solutions, aiming at shutting local communities, without offering real responses to the problems affecting them.
Concerning the role of local and regional authorities and civil society at local level, she is convinced that the local creativity is one of the most valuable elements, for creating new partnerships, for encouraging the exchanges of good-practises, for building a strong sense of belonging to the EU, and for facing the current challenges. She reminds that during her mandates, she promoted the “short circuits”, in order to support sustainable local agriculture production and to make people aware about the negative externalities due to international commerce and industry. Many valuable spontaneous movements come from local communities, therefore in her opinion the local level will continue playing a key role, especially in international cooperation, both in Europe and in the Neighbourhood.
Listen to the interview conducted with Mrs Maria Arena (in French)