On 10 April the Party of the European Left (EL) and transform! europe jointly organized an International Conference in Brussels. The aim of the meeting was to explore the alternatives to solve the problem of the debt and stop the austerity policies.
Find a conference report by Maxime Benatouil as well as a collection of papers (to be completed continuously) on the right at “Documentation”.
Economists, sociologists, politicians of the European Left, trade unionists and members of the social movements of more than 20 countries joined forces in the Conference entitled “Together we can put an end to debt and austerity problems in Europe”. During a 10 hour debate day, they analysed the causes, targets, experiences and proposals in order to jointly prepare a social solidarity and united alternative economic policy for the Left.
During the day, the contributors spoke against neoliberal thinking that underpins austerity as the only possible alternative, and exposed a wide set of proposals showing the rationality and feasibility of a social economic alternative of the Left.
In the analysis of the causes and consequences of the generation and increase of the sovereign debt as well as the politics of austerity the manner of how the debt is used to dominate other peoples, to blackmail them and to provoke external and internal imbalances, was denounced. Also the target which is behind that policy was pointed out: to transform the South of Europe into an area of cheap and deregulated labour without rights.
Proposals for a left economic model
The set of proposals that have been discussed throughout the day are based on four main pillars: ending the policy of austerity; the cancellation of a big part of the public debt; the creation of a new financial institution which funds public services by mobilizing the financial resources of the European Central Bank; and the restoration of democracy in Europe with changes in the financial and business systems.
From this basis, other measures were developed such as the change of the missions and role of the ECB, which has been offering loans to the private banks without any change in the financial system, while the private banks lend money to States at 5% of interest. One of the proposals is precisely that the ECB buys a part of the States debt and could lend directly to States in order to fund the development of public services “without imposing anti-social conditions” as they are doing with the states that have received financial aid. The European Left asked that only the ECB refinance banks at a low cost when they give credit to companies with “social and environmental” criteria.
European Fund for Social and Ecological Development
The alternatives of the EL are backed by a solid financing Project called European Fund for Social and Ecological Development that would be used to finance public services and the creation of employment at interest rates to almost zero. The Fund may also finance projects of local authorities and social actors.
Other measures that have been presented from more than 50 speakers from Europe and Latin America, were the fair taxation, taxes on financial transactions, wage increase, the democratization of financial institutions, sustainable re-industrialization, put an end to tax havens and the audit of the “illegitimate” debt.
EL’s president Pierre Laurent stated that “it is necessary to restructure the debt to lighten it”. He announced that the party will work with these proposals in the electoral campaign for the elections on 25 May and requested the organization of a European Convention on debt and public investment in order to solve the problem of the debts of countries in difficulty, so that some part of that debt will be exonerated, and the review of the conditions for the payment of interest.
For the conference programme click here.