Averting Disaster: Declaration of the 5th European Forum of the Left
We are holding this 5th Forum at a time when cooperation and collaboration between Green, Progressive, and European Left forces is more necessary than ever. The crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19 across the planet, in fact, has revealed all the contradictions, limitations and deficiencies of a neoliberal, predatory and unsupportive model of society, which is unable to cope with such a profound challenge like the consequences of a pandemic, which has ravaged the world for almost two years.
During the crisis, inequalities between social classes have continued to grow, poverty has continued to increase, workers’ incomes have fallen, unemployment and precariousness have increased. At the same time, wealth is becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of multinationals and a small number of billionaires.
The response from the right keeps being the privatization and dismantling of public services, with a weak care system that falls on women’s shoulders and at the cost of their lives, bringing the planet to a situation of climate emergency, destroying natural habitats and endangering the biodiversity.
At a time when pure survival is at stake, the people of Europe must mobilise by highlighting the contradiction capital/life, and the fight against inequality and the climate emergency must be the priority for left, green and progressive forces in Europe: we are now entering the final decade in which we will have a chance to avert disaster and we must therefore demonstrate a sense of urgency in the face of the real and increasingly imminent threat posed by climate change and the lack of co-responsibility for care.
Controls on Large Companies and Financial Sector
An important element of such measures will be a tightening of controls on large companies and the financial sector, which remains exposed to unchecked climate risk. At the same time, however, we must take joint responsibility for the fact that many of the changes needed will involve unprecedented shifts in patterns of production, consumption and mobility, which will inevitably impact upon and transform our daily lives. We must above all defend a just transition, the costs of which do not fall solely on those with the lowest incomes, and in which policies and sufficient resources are guaranteed to ensure that climate policies do not increase social inequality.
In our defence of a Europe of progress, we reject privatisation as a mechanism to “strengthen” the financial and economic system; on the contrary, we believe that it is time for state regulation in certain socio-economic spheres, while pointing out that the climate transition can only achieve its objectives if it is committed to rebuilding the food and industrial sovereignty of Europeans, breaking with the model of ultra-liberal free competition and maximisation of financial profitability. It will only be possible if it puts social development and the creation of decent jobs for all back at the heart of the objectives of European construction, as opposed to the current logic of precariousness.
The current established tax rules must be replaced by new ones that guarantee social and ecological developments. The reorientation of all funding, in particular that of the ECB, toward these objectives, is therefore an imperative for which we intend to campaign.
In particular, we emphasise the role that the social economy must play in European reconstruction because of what it represents in terms of solidarity economy, democratic management, community organisation and involvement with the surroundings in which the people who form cooperative enterprises live, or other legal forms such as worker-owned companies or companies in which employees have shareholder control of the company and decisions on its actions.
The fight for tax justice has proved itself to be more transnational than ever. In a global and increasingly digitised economy, in which there is yet more concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, we must articulate a joint response at both global and European levels in order to ensure that large corporations pay their fair share of taxes and that the wealthiest individuals are unable to hide their assets. This is essential to ensure redistribution, welfare and sufficient social services.
Alongside this, those of us participating in this 5th Forum are aware that in these circumstances the future of the world is uncertain, and we wish to convey to the people of Europe our great concern about the global dynamic of nationalist retreat that is emerging in some European countries with authoritarian governments (Poland, Hungary, Slovenia…), a withdrawal that highlights a lack of solidarity and exposes racist, misogynist and xenophobic tendencies. All this is seriously endangering fundamental rights and freedoms such as gender equality, the rights of LGBTQI+ groups, freedom of the press and academic freedom. There is a danger that these dynamics may spread to other European countries where the far right is advancing.
While we are facing the social and economic consequences of the crisis, we are also witnessing an increase in international tensions which are triggering an arms race that could result in states splitting into military and economic blocs, with unforeseeable consequences for the future of life on Earth. We therefore call on the people of Europe to show solidarity and fight for peace, for a fair system of international relations, in which the European Union and the other powerful states stop exploiting the weaknesses of the economies of developing countries.
From this perspective, we advocate for a disarmament policy that would allow a shift from military to social expenditure, through a genuine and mutually beneficial cooperation in trade and the economy. We also demand an increase in Europe’s aid to developing countries, thus making it possible to implement an international cooperation initiative aimed at: ensuring that everyone enjoys the whole spectrum of human rights; supporting people forced to leave their place of birth and deceived by trafficking networks, which means guaranteeing their right to asylum, within the framework of international law set out in the Charter of the United Nations as well as in international conventions which are based on freedom, justice, solidarity and human needs related to the information age and the fourth industrial revolution.
In full compliance with international relations based on the UN Charter, we join the international agreements that demand the immediate lifting of the blockade that the USA maintains against Cuba and other countries, in order to put an end to interference policies that contravene international law. This is why we celebrate the restoration of democracy in Bolivia in 2020, after a coup that unleashed hatred, persecution and racism. We strongly reject any attempt to destabilize the constitutional government of President Luis Arce by fascist forces that seek to destroy the social advances already achieved and the economic recovery of the country. In short, we support the rule of law and democracy. These are the essential foundations upon which international relations must rest.
Likewise, we express our concern about the situation of curtailment of freedoms and systematic repression against the Opposition in Turkey.
In these times of crisis, respecting our diversity and plurality, we, the political, social and trade union forces participating in this 5th Forum, are calling all to join forces so that we can together address the challenge of involving the sovereign will of the people of Europe in a broad action to defend a socially advanced, ecologically sustainable, supportive and egalitarian Europe that combines economic and social security with food and environmental security in peace and solidarity. We are therefore calling once and for all for an end to austerity in Europe, that social aid and stimuli aimed at alleviating the effects of COVID-19 should not be withdrawn prematurely and that they must be concentrated on the most vulnerable sectors of our society, especially women, who are the most impoverished and hardest hit by the pandemic.
Those of us gathered at this 5th Forum of Left, Green, and Progressive Forces thus state our commitment to support a popular mobilisation in defence of an environmental, feminist, social and economic reconstruction of Europe, based on respect for popular sovereignty, pooling our resources to build a fully democratic, solidarity-based, egalitarian and socially advanced Europe. To this end, we make the following proposals:
- Develop a model of European construction that is horizontal and solidarity-based. Pluralism and democracy are fundamental for the people and nations of Europe. We call for a Europe based on a conviction that political ideas, and thus the political organisation of the European public space, must be structured by political ideals and directions, and not by geographical borders. In this way we will therefore be able to effectively defend the strong ideas that are too often absent today: tax justice, public services, public care systems, harmonisation of social security systems etc., in addition to anticipating the challenges posed by climate change. We defend all the measures taken for a Europe of solidarity as part of the coordinated response to the pandemic and its social and economic effects.
- Undo the model of a neoliberal Europe that has brought ruin to millions with its austerity paradigm, one that has privatised public services, dismantled the social progress achieved through decades of trade union, social and political struggles, has trampled on the democratic sovereignty of the people of the world, restricted freedoms, widening the gender gap and the feminisation of poverty, and brought the planet to the brink of a climate emergency, destroying natural habitats and endangering biodiversity.European construction needs to be horizontal and solidarity-based in nature, inclusive of the half of Europe’s population that is women, respecting popular sovereignty, with cooperation between people and nations and an integration of structural policies aimed at pooling resources and building a Europe that is fully democratic, supportive, egalitarian, socially advanced and independent in its international relations.
We are advocating for a more socially ambitious Europe. The social and ecologic al crises are inextricably linked and the European Union must therefore put forward a proactive and ambitious social plan if we are to avoid increasing the inequalities and injustices yet further.
This plan must be financed, in particular, out of the Union’s own resources and the fight against tax fraud, seeking to boost the economy through measures that prioritise the creation of stable and non-precarious jobs, income growth, and social protection policies, removing all the barriers to collective bargaining that have limited trade union actions, and reorienting the ECB’s money creation, to be placed under democratic control, toward employment, public services and the ecological transition.
- We consider it unacceptable when health care is linked to the financial resources of the patient, so we advocate for affordable and free health care by strengthening public services, paying particular attention to those that guarantee universal health and social care.
- Introduce a European Plan to defend gender equality, one that guarantees women’s human rights and ensure co-responsibility for care work and the equitable distribution of wealth. It is fundamental to achieve the full inclusion of women in all areas of society, for there can be no true democracy until women are able to live freely, without suffering male violence, with equal rights, without violence nor commodification of their bodies (surrogacy) and fully enjoying their rights and control of their bodies through access to abortion, which would create the tomb of patriarchy.
- Implement a Green Action Plan to halt global warming and biodiversity loss by investing in the expansion of Nature Reserves, Parks and Green Spaces.
- Boost the economy through measures that prioritise job creation, income growth and social protection policies, removing all the barriers to collective bargaining that have limited trade union actions and putting an end to the gender salary gap. This implies following the IPCC recommendations to mobilise financial resources of up to 6% of GDP.
- Strictly regulate the financial markets to prevent speculative attacks and eliminate tax havens and tax shelters.
- We stand for peace, ready to counter the growing international tensions that are leading us into a new Cold War. We reject any increase in the military budget and we are reticent about the militarist approach proposed by NATO, which represents a serious threat to peace as it will lead to an escalation of the arms race. We are convinced that disarmament and diplomacy are the best tools to reduce threats to peace. EU countries must ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
It is from this perspective that we raise the need for a debate in society around a concept of collective security that rejects those who want to drag us into a new Cold War, one that argues that a more peaceful world is a safer world, with the implementation of fair and transparent trade rules that are essential for the well-being of all the people of the world.
Finally, those of us who have participated in this Forum, coming from a diverse range of left, green and progressive backgrounds, call on social, political and trade union forces to strengthen collaboration and coordination in order to fuel a popular mobilisation that will push back the forces of the European far right. Fed by apathetic, xenophobic, racist, patriarchal and authoritarian delusions, these forces are exploiting the fears and insecurities of large sectors of society.
Alongside this Final Declaration of the 5th European Forum of Left, Green and Progressive Forces, we are also presenting an Action Plan that contains the initiatives emerging from the different assemblies, workshops and panels. This is with the aim of enabling a social mobilisation that will ensure Europe plays a leading role in defending a future in which all humanity can enjoy human rights in peace, equality, freedom and harmony with nature.
- Promote mobilisations on the 7th of April 2022, World Health Day in defence of the right to free quality health care, including waiving patents to facilitate the universal vaccination.
- Participate in the mobilisations called by the trade unions, especially on the 1st of May 2022 in defence of greater protection of workers’ rights.
- Mobilize for the Madrid Peace Summit in June 2022 in parallel to the NATO Summit.
- Work together to exert the necessary political and social pressure to ensure that the COP in November 2022 makes real progress in the fight against the climate emergency.
- Campaign for at least 2% of the GDP of each EU country to go to cultural spending and to establish an artists’ statute at European level to end precarity in the sector.
- Build a campaign to combat the crisis of democracy.
- Launch a campaign against the right and far right who seek to destroy the rights won by women over decades and criminalize feminism.
- Develop an analysis of the impact of the pandemic on wages and labour relations in Europe. •
Originally published on the European Forum website.