The European elections that took place on 23-26 May were probably the most crucial ones since 1979, the first time when the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were directly elected. The higher rates of participation showed that EU citizens were very much aware of their responsibility.
Why is this upcoming five years-mandate so decisive?
There are now just eleven years left to achieve the SDGs. In order to play a key role in contributing to achieving the Agenda 2030, the EU needs to demonstrate leadership, adopt comprehensive strategies and take bold measures now. If that does not happen, in 2024, when MEPs seek to potentially extend their mandate for another term, it will be too late to make any commitments on the SDGs. The EU must seize its unique chance to show it can make a difference.
This is why we ran our StandUp4Water campaign
Our , run over the last two months, was a collective effort implemented by several civil society organisations and networks across the EU. We asked candidates to commit to make water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) a political priority on the EU agenda, to support investments in the WASH sector and to link WASH to other SDGs, such as the ones which focus on health, education, gender equality or climate. 207 candidates signed our pledge, and more than 40 of these were elected.
We are very grateful to all those candidates who committed to be WASH champions and we are looking forward to working with themover the next 5 years to ensure the EU and its member states further raise the profile of WASH.
But it shouldn’t just be those 40 MEPs who we hold accountable. The European Parliament as a whole has a huge responsibility in pushing the EU to make the right choices and decisions over the next five years. We now need to use this core group of MEPs as WASH advocates who can help us influence others to follow their lead.
What opportunities are ahead for MEPs to be WASH champions?
Firstly, MEPs will examine the suitability of the candidates for the position of Commissioners through hearings that will take place at the beginning of October. They should take those hearings as an opportunity to test candidates’ commitment to the Agenda 2030..
Second, the EU water legislation and policies are currently under evaluation and revision, so it is critical that newly elected MEPs ensure that standards are maintained and that the adopted provisions comply with the Agenda 2030.
Thirdly, the EU is currently negotiating on its EU budget (“multi-annual financial framework”) for the next seven years, including the new single instrument for external action. The previous European Parliament strengthened its links with human rights and the Agenda 2030 and increased the resources allocated to climate and environment as well as human development and social inclusion. In addition, they acknowledged the importance of WASH to achieve other SDGs. I call on all newly elected MEPs to defend the line that was taken by their predecessors and ensure the EU budget serves people and planet’s interests.
So we now turn directly to the newly elected MEPs: this is your agenda for the coming months. It, and therefore you, will determine whether the EU will have the means to achieve its mission for the next five years: to lead the way towards socially and environmentally sustainable development.
To conclude, let me amplify the of Jagoda Munić, Director of Friends of the Earth Europe:
“The good news is that if you succeed, you can return a sense of purpose to the European project, demonstrate to the world that cross-border cooperation and solidarity works, and change the lives of people and the future of our planet for the better.”