Austerity, debt, social destruction in Europe: stop ! Coordinate our strengths – Democratic alternatives are necessary and possible!

European Conference on 31 May 2011 in the European Parliament (Brussels) – in partnership with the GUE/NGL Parliamentary

This conference brought together about 120 representatives of about sixty organisations or networks coming from 20 countries as sell as about ten members of parliament. Lothar Bisky, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Nicos Chountis and Cornelia de Jong of the GUE/NGL Group, Françoise Castex (Socialist MEP) and Philippe (Green MEP) as well as about thirty participants took the floor.

The Euro Pact Plus marks a turning point for Europe, where the phenomena of social regression (impoverishment, unemployment, insecurity, the dismantling of systems of social and employment security) are spreading at an alarming speed, particularly in the countries now called “peripheral” (South and East Europe). Everywhere, women are especially affected. The struggle to survive is becoming increasingly hard for migrants. No answer to ecological problems can be found in the context of pressure on public debt and of generalised austerity.

The new mobilisations, particularly carried forward by the young, show a mass awareness, all the more so since the present paths are leading to a dead end. The lack of democracy is increasingly fragrant, the difficulty in securing results from struggles and political change are having tragic consequences: the electorate that usually votes left is being driven to abstention and the populist Right is succeeding to mobilise.

The various thematic introductions and discussions have shown that, in the very tough confrontations taking place in Europe, not only do the analyses broadly converge but also the proposed alternative. The “Conclusions” (see below) resulted from the consensus of those taking part. The proposals developed by some “alter-globalist” networks, Trade unions, feminists social movements and Left wing political activists, seems in the process of becoming their “common property”, which can only encourage bringing them together in action. However, there can be no compulsion — hence a passage in the document that points out, alongside the common initiatives agreed, some ways to be discussed later.

This day has shown that establishing convergence and, on that basis, new forms of cooperation, really is the central theme. Understanding how to unite against the dominant powers is the point at issue so as to achieve greater effectiveness in the struggles— but also to counter the dangerous divisions within society and between the countries.

At a time when, on the one hand “the street” is becoming a political force and, at the same time, everything is jammed as far as the European institutions are concerned, with a powerless Parliament and no political majority ready to respond to the needs of our time, there is an urgent need for a new system of alliances between social movements, trade unions, elected representatives and political activists. The clearly more critical stand taken by the ECTU at its Congress must be noted with interest, at a time when, in certain countries, the Trade Unions are being forced to their knees by government pressures. A renovated European Social Forum would again have an important part to play. This, no doubt, presupposes designing it in a more structured form on the basis of essential themes and overcoming the too formal cohabitation of organisations that take part in it.