With some thirty organizations (unions and social movements, national or European – see “Who are we?” ), we organised on March 29 & 30, 2012, besides the EU Summit our own spring conference, in order to voice the political and social agenda of the European peoples.
Where we come from
1. Last year, the JSC fixed its diagnosis of the crisis. It highlighted the systemic nature of it: financial, economic, social, ecological and political. This crisis shows the failure of a development model and of two decades of neoliberalism. The JSC also denounced the neoliberal character of the response of the governments. European demonstrations (like that of 29/09/2010) could not until now reverse the balance of force. So they must continue. This is not our crisis, and we don’t have to pay for it.
Our diagnosis today
2. Last year we experienced an acceleration of the crisis in Europe. European summits are multiplying, but utterly fail to achieve their stated objectives, namely to “restore confidence in financial markets” and resolve the crisis in the Euro area. A second banking crisis is looming in Europe; austerity policies jointly conducted in all countries are about to provoke a comprehensive recession, and in Greece and other countries, even in a depression. Public debt, unemployment, poverty and inequalities are increasing at an alarming rate.
3. The lesson derived by the European leaders, is not that austerity policies are socially destructive and economically suicidal but that austerity policies do not go far enough. Over the past year, European leaders are working on the project of “economic governance” and are showing an unprecedented institutional activism. Adding successive layers, European leaders plan to make austerity stronger and more irrevocable. After the discrete adoption of the “Six Pack”, introducing the reversed majority vote, the “golden rule” fiscal principle, part of the “Two Pack”, is being adopted in the greatest silence . Two hazardous treaties, related to one another are being ratified (the Treaty on the European Stability Mechanism and the Fiscal Pact). This hardens the fiscal rules and procedures adopted or to be adopted and makes them even more stringent.
According to Mrs Merkel, “the purpose of the Fiscal Pact is to insert a permanent debt brake in the national legislations. These brakes will have an eternal validity and binding! “. The President of the Commission President, J.M. Barroso, speaks of a “silent revolution”.
4. The acceleration of the European agenda reveals that the crisis is changing in nature. The European Commission and the Council use the shock of the “sovereign debt crisis” to redraw the European economy following a radical monetarist and neoliberal vision promoted by the ECB. Following this vision, economic levers (monetary, fiscal, labor …) should be increasingly placed out of reach of parliaments and citizens, who are a priori judged incapable of making good choices. In contrast with the very democratic idea, they want a government by the technocrats (ECB, Commission, IMF …) and by blind and antisocial rules (Stability Pact, economic control, golden rule, EMS, …). With economic governance, neo-liberals are about to realize their dream: an economic policy anchored in the Constitutions, submitted to the markets’ logic and to the interest of the big stakeholders. In this framework, European Court of Justice that, in several arrest, has already submitted the workers’ rights to “economic freedom” is led to play a more important role, becoming the Supreme Judge of fiscal policies of member-states.
5. The changes observed here above result in particular of the fact that economic power of Transnationals or Multinationals is closely linked to financial power and political power of European institutions and national governments. They play a leading role in the destruction of social and labor rights (collective bargaining, trade union rights, working conditions, …), in the declining of real wages and of the wage share in GDP (with the new control of Unit Salary Cost in the “Economic Governance”), and in the precarisation of labor (recurrence of daily, explosion temporary workers, false self managers …)
6. The austerity policies, destroying social and public services, hit particularly some part of citizens:
- Women who are employed in the most precarious jobs and support most of the “social reproduction’s work”, that austerity policies massively transfer back from social services to the domestic sphere ;
- Youth who are suffering high level of unemployment;
- Migrants who fear racism and repression, and are loosing their human & workers rights.
7. In our historical fight for democracy, we have been faced for a number of years to a concentration and a confiscation of power. The evolutions of these last two years precipitates the shift to an oligarchy, including the nomination of technocrats from bank sector as government’s chiefs. We are in favor of the unity of the European people. But we observe that the EU project is dominated by a small number of national and European leaders, acting on behalf of a financial and economic elite. We denounce the organized corruption and the voluntary inertia of the governments vis-à-vis tax evaders and tax havens. That Europe is bound to fail and fosters the resurgence xenophobic nationalisms and “liberticide” policies.
What to do ? Our alternatives
8. The JSC requires to stop austerity policies – at the contrary, social rights and public services must be enhanced as a development model – and to follow a different approach to the debt issue. The adoption of austerity policies in times of great economic crisis is the worst political choice. It causes enormous social suffering without making any response to the economic problems that caused the crisis.
9. We believe that the very principle of debt repayment must be questioned. In any case, it cannot take precedence over state sovereignty, the well-being, and the preservation of the environment… as is currently the case in countries subject to the dictates of the Troika and the IMF. We call in all European countries an audit of public debt under citizen’s control to assess the part of the debt which is illegitimate and whose load and reimbursement should not be supported by the citizens. In the most indebted European countries, we demand to first stop the hemorrage of debt service, with possible suspension of payments or other solutions in the interest of the peoples.
10. The debt question poses in an acute way the question of tax justice. We demand : a concerted European tax strategy in favor of the citizens : increasing corporate taxes and tax on higher income; a tax on wealth; a taxation of all financial transactions to raise revenue and curb speculation; a coordinated fight against fraud, tax evasion and corruption.
11. Monetary policy should play an essential role in protecting the state vis-à-vis the blackmail of financial markets and rating agencies. The status and tasks of the ECB must be changed. Support to employment and investment (including investment necessary for the ecological transition and the social protection), the effective control of financial operators, protection against financial speculation … must be essential missions of the ECB, alongside price stability. The ECB and the national central banks must be allowed to make loans to the States under European democratic control (This is already possible because the alinea 2 of article 123 of the TFEU allows public credit institutions to be refinanced by the ECB and the national central banks). The independence of the ECB must be questioned. Immediate action of ECB must be orientated in favor of jobs and public services.
12. Collective bargaining is a central element of democracy. For two decades, there has been a dismantling of the negotiation and collective action. The dogma of competitiveness pushes all countries to reduce social and labor rights, to limit the freedom of collective bargaining and action. It is no longer acceptable that multinationals use and abuse of employment blackmail to force workers to accept reduction of their rights and deteriorating working conditions. We want an upside social harmonization in all European countries. Countries that accumulate trade surpluses through policies of social dumping must be called to order.
13. Historically, a part of the prosperity of Europe has been based on the exploitation of the richnesses and labor of the rest of the world, especially countries from the South. The EU trade policies contribute to maintain this exploitation. It is possible to define an alternative mandate for the external trade policy. We will support the alliance constituting itself to meet this objective and we oppose free trade agreements presently negotiated, which only favor big business, not the people in the South nor the workers in Europe.
14. We demand a new model of ecological, industrial, social and democratic development.
- In the next decade, our economies and our societies will be forced to transform itself to adapt to scare oil, to phase out nuclear power and to prevent a climate catastrophe. We must take the opportunity of this crisis, not to put back in the saddle an outdated and noxious neoliberalism, but to radically rethink our economic structures and the way we live and are consuming.
- The digital technologies, which are profoundly transforming our societies, allow to design a new industrial model, which may be based no longer on competition and mass-consumption, but rather on an economy based on shared contribution between actors.
- A new social model must necessarily be based on the priority of social needs’ satisfaction, with the development of a high level social protection and public services (child care, health, housing, education, dependency …)
- We want to start thinking about democratic alternatives across Europe, requirements made in the movements and struggles that are developing today. We want to oppose this democratic renewal against the Treaty on the “fiscal pact”, and the enormous power of corporations and their lobbyists on EU institutions. This new democratic model must of course underline the equality between Men & Women.
Campaigns and actions to develop
15. With the current crisis, neoliberalism has suffered an economic and theoretical defeat. This has not been translated, until now, into a political defeat. Neither the crisis, nor massive demonstrations in the countries most affected by the crisis have not yet brought to power governments ready to reverse these policies ; this is why we urgently need transnational convergence of the struggles.
16. We only will be able to challenge this new “pensée unique” by demonstrating our ability to act. We have already said last year. “Faced with very well articulated political powers, our political and social action has too often suffered of separate approaches between the two levels of government (national and European). [...] A central point of our approach is that from the start we want for all the issues a “bi-level” approach, for both the analysis for reflection. ” So we go from words to action ; the assembly of 2d JSC decided to take part in the following actions, initiated by us or by other European social movements, and to call other to join.
Priority actions and campaigns for 2012
Introductory note: The JSC proposes to the organizations following actions and campaigns. Obviously, each organization is not asked to implement each of the ideas proposed.
1. The severity of the current situation leads the JSC to call European forces to converge in their struggles. We need to rebuild a new common European space : therefore we will share some important civil society events : CADTM euro-med seminar on April 7 th ; CEO – TNI meeting on May 5th & 6th ; Zagreb Subversive Forum on May 13th – 19th ; Frankfurt May 18th & 19th ; Athens meeting in September ; Firenze 10 + 10 in November) The absence of a visible alternative and of a mobilization’s space hinders mobilizations on a European scale. The Alter Summit is intended to play this role. Today, with several organizations and social movements, intellectuals, and representatives of the European left, we propose the first steps towards this Alter Summit in an open process, open to all forces who want to deeply change the EU.
2. We will actively engage in a series of immediate actions to advance the goals that are ours. We will be active :
- in April at the Euro-Mediterranean meeting of the campaigns on audits of public debts;
- in May in Frankfurt on the issue of the ECB;
- at the Global Action Day on June 20, linked Rio+20 Peoples Summit, in order to build resistance against green neoliberalism
- EPSU campaign (to be launched officially on April 24 th) and water movement’s actions on water as a common good (a paradigmatic one!)
3. We will develop or support transnational campaigns on the following themes:
- citizens’ audits of public debt, with particular emphasis on the impact of debt for women;
- mobilization campaigns against the ratification of the “fiscal compact” treaty by the national parliaments, with referendums in the European countries where this is useful and possible;
- campaign on the distribution of wealth (coordination of wages and European adequate minimum income);
- transformation of the role of the ECB allowing loans to European countries under democratic control in order to develop employment, social needs and begin the ecological transition; and pushing the ECB to buy back the debt at fixed low rates on the secondary market, as far as it would not have been canceled;
- Campaigns for tax justice, linked to a day of action programmed in 2013;
- Campaign against corruption (also searching the ways of “auditing” the corruption level);
- Campaign against the Free Trade Agreements and for an alternative Trade mandate for EU;
- Campaign in defense of public & universal health services as a social right.
4. We propose the implementation of unitary citizens committees in all European cities, bringing together activists, women and young movements, trade unionists, “Indignados” and political representatives in order to resist EU’s attacks, and also build a mass solidarity movement with Greece and all populations in struggle against the austerity programs – not forgetting the East and Central Europe countries, who where first hit by harsh austerity.
5. We will defend the right of collective action in Europe. Therefore we’ll work on the “posted workers” directive presently under revision, and we will oppose the adoption of the proposed regulation Monti II, which constitutes a major attack against social rights and the right to strike:
- through actions of sensitization of European Parliamentarians;
- by considering the advisability of using legal means to counter Monti II and other attacks on our rights.
6. We will create a communication tool to prepare the Alter Summit, to circulate information on the campaigns that we conduct or support, for sounding the alarm over the anti-social and anti-democratic attacks in our countries, including the destruction of collective bargaining.
On all these themes, a series of questions have been deepened in the workshops : there are important results and debates demanding to be deepened. These will be collected in a complementary publication.