Is individual empowerment the path to social empowerment? Helipro

Economic crisis, growing migratory pressures, social and economic inequalities, xenophobia, regional conflicts, extremism and populism are today’s main challenges Europe has to face.
These challenges are both global and domestic and reflect an unstable environment in which the European Union is navigating. Facing these issues, requires much effort from European policymakers, otherwise this may challenge the Union’s economic and political influence and perhaps its ideas, values and coherence.

As it marks its 60th birthday, the European Union is in poor shape. It needs more flexibility to rejuvenate itself. We will only succeed in relaunching the EU if we take the direction of a more social, more just, more value-based Union now.

The role of the individual is crucial in today’s globalized word. According to European Commission, today’s communities are in high-pressure. The challenges that face - like unemployment, climate change, aging population- have taken a growing social dimension. For this reason, individuals should be able to gain in strength, in skills and abilities, so they can meet the changing conditions of globalization. When the individual is able to adequately perceive the reality around him, then he can achieve what we call “individual empowerment”. When the individual empowerment process occurs in any person's life, they begin to believe that they are capable of having better control over their lives; they understand their situation, and their actions can improve our society. Thus, the concept of individual empowerment initially relates to a process that change the person. People are taking control and leading decisions that change their lives. The second stage of empowerment refers to a process in which people win confidence to make decisions that change their role in society. It is a bidirectional process that takes places between the person and its environment.

The result of this process is the creation of new skills, based on individual’s insightfulness and capabilities. These essential features can reform person’s political consciousness, the ability to cooperate with others and handle life’s challenges. In other words, the person holds a key caring and guiding role in its own life. According to Howard (1993), the empowerment process gives the local environmental knowledge a new context—an intellectual understanding of the social situation, which encourages a sense of greater control of the environment and an ability to feel at home in the world.

How people can help in relaunching the European Union?

It is more than clear, that EU needs to take a more social, more just and more value-based direction. It is high time we make our European Union into a social union, with strong workers’ rights, gender equality, secure jobs and income, and decisive measures to tackle youth unemployment, wage inequality and vast differences in living standards and social security. Social progress must always mean upward convergence.

One thing is certain: the Europe of tomorrow will not be the same as the Europe of yesterday. New challenges require new solutions. According to a senior EU official, “the real problem is the social Europe because here the division is clear, very traditional and a little bit ideological”. As Donald Tusk said, when our forefathers created this alliance, they didn’t talk about different speeds or make exceptions for certain members. They placed all their faith in European leaders’ desire to work together. Now, as our unity is tested under the strain of difficult challenges, the only way forward is to reaffirm our unity and recall the union’s original raison d’être.

The European project will either survive as a unified alliance or not at all. We must safeguard what we’ve built and respect our common rules: human rights and civil liberties, freedom of speech and assembly, checks and balances, and the rule of law.

Main Sources:

We must renew Europe for all Europeans -

Elisheva Sadan, Empowerment and Community Planning, 1997

How to relaunch the EU -