Finding a New Path – Another Development for Europe

International Conference

Maison des Associations Internationales
Rue Washington 40
1050 Brussels

The conference aims at bringing together progressive social and political forces from across the continent to tackle the issues of a new industrial strategy for Europe. It is an initiative of transform! europe, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Brussels office and Nicos Poulantzas Institute.


Ever since the outbreak of the crisis, labour markets’ structural reforms unravelling employment protection and collective bargaining systems have been regarded as the only way to revive job creations despite their patent failures. Together with a structural lack of investment which could not be overcome with the much too timid Juncker Plan and the continuation of fiscal austerity, they have led to a massive increase in inequalities – hitting first and foremost women, the youth and low-skilled workers. On top of that, EU Member States are far from keeping up to their commitments regarding the COP 21 Paris agreement which asserts the goal of limiting global temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius. The European Commission’s Winter Package of new energy rules is a step in the right direction, but it lacks of real incentives for EU Member States to engage in a genuine ecological transformation. This situation is no longer sustainable.

We need to find global solutions for a better, fairer Europe based on a new model of development capable of meeting social needs and ecological imperatives with economic democracy as a compass. If not, the rise of right-wing populist parties might very well be impossible to counter, since they have proven time and again to best capitalize on the socially destructive consequences of the multiple crises. The Brexit vote and Trump’s election are no accident, but rather inevitable outcomes of years of neoliberal policies which have carefully dispossessed citizens of their public goods and of their ability to exert influence over politics, as well as their hope. We believe that without a strong industry deeply transformed in its ends and means – triggering a just energy transition and allowing for more participation of the workers in the production processes –, Europe will be unable to initiate the economic, social, environmental and ultimately political change that is urgently needed.

We, progressives of Europe, need to come together. Fighting neoliberalism and right-wing populism at the same time is a joint responsibility imposed upon us. Our differences could and should be overcome if we manage to start working towards a common set of social, ecological and democratic demands paving the way for a new model of development for Europe, while clearly identifying the complementary roles of EU institutions and Member States to implement it, and taking into consideration the unbearably growing gap between the so-called Europe’s core and periphery.

A conference bringing together in Brussels (19 and 20 June 2017) progressive social and political forces from across the continent to tackle the issues of a new industrial strategy for Europe could help us find a new path for Europe. This strategy should be based on the following principles: a truly progressive industrial policy offering good jobs and therefore supporting foremost the social and economic advancement of Central and Eastern European and South European Countries. It is furthermore based on a just energy transition, as well as the new labour and social rights that we should push through to reverse the race to the bottom damaging so many households. This could be a good starting point.

Working Languages: English, French and German


Monday, 19 June

Day 1: Social and Labour Rights

09:30-10:00 Welcome of the Participants

10:00-10:30 Introductory Panel

  • Martin Schirdewan (Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Brussels office, Director)
  • Aimilia Koukouma (Nicos Poulantzas Institute)
  • Maxime Benatouil (transform! europe, Programme Director)

10:30-12:30 Session 1: Free Trade Agreements and their effects on Europe’s Labour and Social Rights

How can we protect the rights of workers and citizens in the process of opening up our economies? What are the challenges we have to face? How can labor clauses and chapters in free trade agreements support labour rights? What are the chances to strengthen social rights in international trade agreements?

Moderator: Cecilia Olivet (Transnational Institute)


  • Helmut Scholz (Die Linke, MEP, GUE/NGL, trade committee in the EP)
  • Penny Clarke (EPSU Deputy General Secretary, Head of EU Policy, Trade, Human Resources)
  • Nick Dearden (Global Justice Now, Director)

12:30-13:30 Lunch Break

13:30-15:30 Session 2: “Towards a European Pillar of Social Rights”?

The old promise of more social harmonisation and dialogue in exchange for labour markets’ structural reforms has not yet been kept. Today, it takes the shape of the European Commission “Towards a European pillar of social rights”. What are the proposals on the table? Is a social Europe possible?

Moderator: Maxime Benatouil (transform! europe, Programme Director)


  • Gabriele Zimmer (Die Linke, elected president of the GUE/NGL; substitute member in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs)
  • Violaine Delteil (Director of the Master Program European Studies, Institute for European Studies, University Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle)
  • Esther Lynch (Confederal Secretary ETUC)

15:30-16:00 Coffee Break

16:00-18:00 Session 3: Digitisation of the Economy, Industry 4.0 and Labour Rights

There seem to be good reasons to believe that we stand at the beginning of a new wave of innovations and that the industrial and service sectors merge with the internet. What challenges do we have to face in such an economy? How can social and labour rights thrive under these conditions?

Moderator: Roland Kulke (Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Brussels office)


  • Paloma Lopez (Izquierda Unida, MEP GUE/NGL, member of Committee on Industry, Research and Energy)
  • Matteo Gaddi (Punto Rosso, Italy)
  • Toni Prug (economic researcher Zagreb)


Tuesday, 20 June

Day 2: A Progressive Industrial Strategy for Europe

10:00-12:00 Session 4: The case for a Socially Just Energy Transition

If the energy transition is inevitable, its political orientation is not. A socially just energy transition, enabling the articulation of ecological imperatives and social needs, should be at the heart of the discussion over a new model of development for Europe. On which criteria should it be based? How to implement it? How to create a space for discussion between its key actors?

Moderator: Jean-Claude Simon (transform! europe)


  • Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, GUE/NGL, substitute member Committee on Industry, Research and Energy)
  • Montserrat Mir Roca (Confederal Secretary ETUC)
  • Julien Vandeburie (Ecolo, Belgium)
  • Molly Walsh (Friends of the Earth Europe)

12:00-13:00 Lunch Break

13:00-15:00 Session 5: A Social-Ecological Investment Package to overcome Europe’s Core/Periphery Asymmetries

What is the existing policy space for a progressive industrial strategy for Europe? What solutions and projects are on table? How can we overcome Europe’s Core-Periphery asymmetries? What are the elements of a Social-Ecological Investment Package? What to be produced, where to invest and according to which criteria? What is the role of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and the European Investment Bank (EIB)?


  • Mario Pianta (Economic Policy at the University of Urbino)
  • Axel Troost (Die Linke, Member of German Bundestag, Vice Chairmen of Die Linke and spokesman on financial policy for Die Linke parliamentary group)
  • Markus Trilling (Climate Action Network Europe)
  • Dimitrios Papadimoulis (SYRIZA, Vice President of the European Parliament, GUE/NGL, member of Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs)

15:00-15:30 Coffee Break

15:30-17:30 Session 6: Industrial Policy and Economic Democracy

How the idea of economic democracy can be developed and implemented? What is the role of labour and trade unions for planning a progressive industrial strategy? What are the ways to fight against the labour market deregulation and reductions in wages?

Main speaker:

  • Peter Scherrer (Deputy General Secretary ETUC)


  • Petros Linardos Rulmond (Economist, former researcher at the Labour Institute of the Greek General Confederation of Greek Workers INE-GSEE )
  • Heikki Patomäki (Professor of World Politics in Helsinki)

17:30-17:45 Conclusive Remarks

  • Roland Kulke (Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Brussels office)