Political Theses – Introduction 1. Building peace 2. Another economic model for a social Europe 3. Participatory and radical democracy 4. Building alliances
The first Congress of the Party of the European Left is being held at what is truly an "extraordinary" time: Today we are faced with the huge challenge of opening a new political and social cycle in Europe. Since the 1 May 2004 we have been living in an enlarged European Union of 25 member states, witnessing day by day new developments. People in all European countries – no matter whether EU members or not – are wondering what our continent will look like in the future. Today, building "another Europe" is not only possible, it is essential.
As we laid down in our manifesto at the founding congress of the Party of the European Left, we see the necessity of a deep-rooted social and democratic transformation of Europe. We understand the role and the task of the Political Left in Europe as a contribution to form a broad social and political alliance for a radical policy change by developing concrete alternatives and proposals for that necessary transformation of the present capitalist societies. In that we see our responsibility and ability to address all those who are taking action for a more equitable society as a condition for a self-determined life of their own. We want to establish left wing politics lastingly as an independent, self-confident political project contributing to the implementation of solidarity, of democratic, social and ecological alternatives.
We are caught up in the throes of a full-blown crisis of the neo-liberal model and policies. This crisis has been dragging on since the end of the 1990s. It has attracted increasingly more right-wing regressive social and political responses. For this reason the conservative and right-wing parties redrew their political strategy, assuming a profile that puts together ultra-liberalism, authoritarianism, populism and Atlanticism.
Prevailing politics in Europe are on a wrong track. It will cost the European peoples dearly to demolish and destroy welfare systems and to allow mass unemployment and merciless competition to rule everyday life. The neo-conservatives’ political hegemony as a political project caught in a crisis, is increasingly threatening freedom, peace and security for the majority of the world population. It is threatening to open a new front of the global and permanent war, starting from the persisting military occupation of Iraq, which has to be stopped immediately with the withdrawal of all occupying troops. A dangerous decline in democracy, environmental destruction, as well as the neo-liberal “peace” to safeguard the global military monopoly of force for the USA imperial hegemony and the industrialised nations following it on this path, still produce great damage. These developments are also affecting the future of the EU, being not neutral “excesses” of neo-liberal capitalist globalization, but instead the result of a deliberate choice, taken to deepen the dynamics of capitalistic, patriarchal and anti-environmental exploitation and oppression, rooted in the dominant model of society.
While Europe is facing one of its most severe social and economical crises, it chooses security policy as its main priority. Besides the socio-economic crisis, Europe has today a leadership crisis. The neo-conservative leadership and the dominant forces of social democracy have misled Europe. The rejection of the Constitutional Treaty, the resistance to the Bolkestein and Working Time Directives and the inability to achieve an agreement on the financial perspectives are ample proof of this. The point is that the neo-conservative leadership has led Europe to a state of under-financing, unabling it to give an answer to the expectations of its citizens.
Our challenge is to stop the policy of the right wing and the dominant social-democratic forces by taking a truly Left innovative approach, thus overcoming the strategic impotence of any neo-liberal and social-liberal as well as social-democratic Third way policies. The EL has the potential and the duty to be a main political actor to change and reform EU politics, to help resolving the continental and world political crisis.
We see our job in working resolutely towards a new social contract for the 21st century, making the interests of all people on earth, environmental matters, democratic values, social justice and peace the yardstick and objective of the peoples’ coexistence. We want the equality between men and women to become a founding right in the process of European construction. Therefore, we want to make our weight felt in the debate on matters of society at local, regional, national and European levels. The European political Left must develop its own ideas to this end. The Party of the European Left can, must and will take up this challenge. Europe and the European Union as they exist today are the minimal dimension of politics as the expres
One encouraging example for our work has been the outcome of the French and Dutch referenda on the Constitutional Treaty. On that occasion several elements helped to reveal the potential of a new European public space for the forces of change. The people had been excluded from the text, having no say in the drafting phase. Alas, they took the stage by force, refusing to be held hostage to an ideology which did not promise anything better than the neo-liberal EU economic model people are witnessing today. Suddenly, everybody has been made clearly aware of the weight of the opposition to neo-liberal Europe. For it is no coincidence that the opposition to the treaty was given an extraordinary impetus following the many demonstrations against the Europe of capitalism and unemployment, like that on 19 March in Brussels against the Bolkestein directive. The No vote was therefore a rejection of the mercantilist substance of the Treaty and of the "functionalist" context in which the EU was established (the economic treaties and the European Central Bank, the single currency, the Commission directives). Opposition to the Treaty has been widely influenced by left-wing ideas and by social demands for equality and justice stemming from the growing concern of a majority of the people about their living conditions.
However, our No vote to the Treaty, despite what is maintained by its most enthusiastic supporters, is not a No to Europe; it is a Yes to another Europe, to a Europe of more social justice and solidarity, working for world peace, becoming a new development model for all nations.
It is therefore the common aim of the parties and organisations of the Party of the European Left to devise and implement a policy aiming to regain a genuine European public space, where the European citizens, the social movements and democratic organisations will be the main actors. Our goal as a political subject is to promote a new kind of democracy. Participation is the first contribution we consider necessary for a radical reform of politics, to ensure that the undemocratic spiral of neo-liberal globalisation and war can be stopped. Our proposals for a different Europe are a concrete contribution to building up a society in which democracy, freedom, equality and peace are the founding values.
From our point of view the alternative proposal and the Left vision of socialism with democracy do not just constitute a national issue, but are objectives of European and international dimensions. As ever and even more today, socialism is an international vision and a world project.
EXE 1 – BUILDING PEACE
For centuries Europe has been a theatre of bloody conflicts. With colonialism it has exported violence, injustice and oppression. After the end of World War II and the victorious partisans struggle, after the defeat of Nazism and fascism it seemed possible to ban war from history. The idea of a united Europe rose from this very demand. Yet, war and military confrontation have never been fully given up as instruments of international and European politics. The role of the EU has been unclear and contradictory, not because of its incapacity to set up an intervention force, but of its inability to outline an autonomous project against the existing project of American hegemony."
US Military interventions with the support of NATO in violation of international law reversed the trend to armaments control started during the Cold War also because of the lasting struggle of the peace movement. War is still present in our life, rather it became endemic and pervasive, still being used as a political instrument. The European Union and all other European countries, in virtue of their actual geopolitical position and their vocation, have to be able to promote and guarantee peace.
Radical opposition to war, human rights violations, terrorism and any “clash of civilizations” – this is the first condition for the Europe we want to build. In fact, the attacks on New York, Madrid or London demonstrate that the powerful device of military dissuasion used by the most developed countries of the world was not able to prevent such developments.
The logical consequence would have been, instead, to thoroughly rethink the current system of security based on military force, including the possible use of weapons of mass destruction that threaten the existence of mankind, to start demilitarisation and disarmament.
The European Constitutional Treaty subjects the independence of the EU in foreign policies to a military logic instead of peaceful and civil responses aiming at preventing conflicts. We absolutely disagree with this logic. The European Left, instead, stands for political solutions, the defence and implementation of international law, for real democratic governance of the world with a reformed UN, for active conflict prevention, and for the reduction of military expenses.
We want an alternative security policy in Europe in order to:
• have a European security and defence system based on progressive demilitarisation;
• achieve disarmament and deeply cut military expenses at a global level;
• progressively downsize national armies;
• defend a EU-binding code of behaviour preventing arms exports to warring countries or those violating human rights;
• realize the project of an European Agency for disarmament and conversion.
We want an autonomous security policy in order to:
• let Europe play an independent role in foreign, security and defence policies based on the respect of human rights, compliance with international law, cooperation for development and prevention of conflicts;
• oppose any kind of military cooperation with NATO, prevent the deployment of armed forces such as the ones supporting the USA wherever they intervene.
We want an anti-nuclear security policy. That means even more to ban and destroy any kind of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological or chemical).
Europe’s political independency from the USA is an indispensable condition for Europe to play a stronger role in the world. A Europe of peace must strive for a political and economic restructuring of international relations in which peace and peaceful multilateralism are part of a new model of society.
We want to defend a social Europe, joining our struggle to that of all people advocating a fairer world of peace on all continents.
In this sense the European Left supports all processes of decolonisation and the demand of those peoples who want to affirm their self-determination through UN resolutions, such as the people of the Western Sahara and the Palestinian people.
We consider the new Latin American reality a decisive contribution to the struggle for a fairer world of solidarity. The Party of the European Left condemns the state of exception the EU is keeping towards the Republic of Cuba. This is the only country in the world, to which the EU has a "Common Position" of sanctions. This position imposed by the US does not allow the EU to have a debate on the agenda proposed by Cuba.
The EL is in favour of the EU having full relations with Cuba on the basis of a bilateral treaty. It asks firmly that the UN resolutions about lifting the US blockade against Cuba be complied. Furthermore we support the process of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, the struggle for the defence of common and public goods throughout Latin America and the struggle against FTAA.
Capitalist globalisation is not and has never been merely a process of the economic reorganisation of capital. It has proven to be an extraordinarily powerful locomotive force for driving the reorganisation of capitalist power structures on a worldwide scale. It has been the tool that has helped to produce a full-blown conservative revolution, shaking to its foundations the world order inherited in the wake of the victory over Nazism and fascism. The traditional form of national state does not explain the way in which globalization is developing in practice. Therefore, when raising the problem of how to change the capitalist society, we have to do it on a worldwide scale. In view of these fundamental changes it is necessary to start a new phase of cooperation among the forces striving for social transformation all over the world, in particular in Europe.
At the beginning, the ideologists of neo-liberalism promised that globalisation would mark "the end of history", the fully accomplished state of neo-capitalism with a prospect of stability for years to come. But in reality, neo-liberal globalisation has not proven to be a stable mechanism for generating added value, while at the same time it has increased inequality and social injustice.
The crisis of capitalist globalisation has produced regressive and reactionary responses precisely by those who claimed that it would be the solution to all problems of mankind. The policies of the economic right wing have become more radical in order to hold the interest groups in their dominant position on a worldwide scale. War has become a stable as well as a structural and endemic factor. The crisis is therefore creating instability and a lack of security worldwide. The doctrine of pre-emptive war, endless and indefinite as this sort of war is, places the United States of America at the heart of the world system of domination. In the present international framework Bush is opting for unilateralism in order to destroy any room for politics.
War is therefore not only a new strategy for controlling the planet's strategic resources, demonstrating that new capitalism will not give up devouring them, but it is taking the place of every rule of international coexistence and respect for the fundamental rights of humanity.
The contest between War and Peace is more relevant today than it ever was. If war is the product of policies aiming at domination, aggression, blackmailing and of tensions brought about by capitalist globalisation, peace can only be achieved by intensifying all forms of opposition, resistance and contradiction emerging worldwide, even at the nation-state level.
The new peace movement – the “other world power" that has emerged in the present phase – can and must reveal the radical relationship that exists between the neo-liberal model of society and the war waged by capitalist globalisation, while working for an alternative society. The new peace movement is a disarmed and disarming force, carrier of an idea of peace which does not only mean absence of war or a state of balance based on the power of arms, but instead aimes at establishing a social and economic order as an alternative to neo-liberalism and war.
This new order has to be sustainable or it will not be. Today, the relationship between war and environmental degradation is more obvious than ever. Changing unsustainable modes of production and consumption is a necessity for peace.
Moreover, we have to combat the other face of war: terrorism. The political project of terrorism, which is independent of war, though fuelled by it, is primarily an enemy of the people and democracy. In particular, the fundamentalist terrorism of the forces of radical Islamism, while claiming to defend people's rights, advocates a society based on the use of violence brought to the extreme, being fully compatible with capitalism.
But the "war on terror" led by the US and its allies is no way to eradicate the roots and causes of terrorism but has even strengthened the basis of terrorism. War itself is using terrorist means against the civilian population. The "war on terror", due to continue for decades according to US politicians, is serving as a purpose to dismantle rights and freedoms in Europe as well, to push forward EU militarization on the basis of doctrines foreseeing out of area interventions all over the globe. Already, the US is threatening to launch pre-emptive wars against further states.
The Party of the European Left is standing for a peaceful way to overcome terrorism. War against terrorism can not be won, but the struggle against it can. The Left Party is demanding a change of paradigms in Europe's policies towards these countries – away from centuries of suppression and intervention, military invasion, patronising and humiliation – towards cooperation and peaceful coexistence, towards a common perspective worked out together with the political forces of these countries on a basis of equality. The EL is expressing its solidarity with the progressive, left forces of the Muslim world.
The primacy of politics can only be regained by struggling against war and for peace. Just as there cannot be peace without justice, there cannot be justice without peace.
That is why we condemned the lack of a clear rejection of war in the EU Constitutional Treaty, and why we saw the institution of a European army under NATO control – in effect under USA control – as a threat to the independence and autonomy of the EU and a resumption of massive investment in armaments. This is why we are proposing cut-backs in the military expenditure of every country, the closure of the USA bases, and the dissolution of NATO.
The European Left favours a common foreign and security policy. In order to achieve primacy, politics has to aim at a worldwide order based on international law, civilian conflict prevention and peaceful conflict settlement as well as solidarity-based and democratic development on the international stage. This must be done together and in close cooperation with all European states.
The countries of Europe and the European Union should also play a major role in the democratic reform and strengthening of international organisations, starting with the United Nations, in order to establish new international relations on a worldwide scale, based on free coexistence, respect for the peoples’ rights and democracy. Recalling its tragic past of wars and colonialism, Europe must be in a position to look at the world not through euro-centric eyes, but with the ability to accept the new challenges of global equality. We are proposing that the European Union should take responsibility for a radical restructuring of the international economic organisations. The WTO, the IMF and the World Bank cannot be allowed to remain instruments of domination and generate further injustice. Some of these agencies should be abolished and replaced by others. Already existing ones should have their assignments altered and placed directly under United Nations control.
The EL demands an end of the Israeli occupation and the withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders. It is opposed to the illegal Wall, which is also an obstacle to the peace process. It is in favour of the creation of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state side by side with Israel within secure borders and in common security on the basis of the UN resolutions.
What is called the Barcelona process will assume much importance for the EU’s international role. Instead of introducing the free-trade area planned for the Mediterranean by 2010 we demand to conclude a partnership agreement on an equal basis with all South Mediterranean countries. The European Left proposes a Euro-Mediterranean alliance which will include on the one hand guarantees of full respect for democracy and human rights and on the other hand social and economic integration aiming at the promotion of a balanced and sustainable development. Where free trade areas have been established in the past (for example, NAFTA between Mexico and North America) inequalities and injustices have been massively aggravated, to the detriment of the weakest sections of the societies involved. Where other free trade areas are being proposed (for example the FTTA) there is enormous popular opposition to prevent their establishment.
The colonialist past of Europe in Africa has been a major cause for the present problems the continent is suffering from. Therfore, we are in favour of all the different proposals aiming to a new and democratic economic order, supporting a Euro-African alliance for bridging the North-South gap.
The European Left takes action to defend and build peace not as an utopian idea, but as a social and political construction that will be made possible by another development model. Only a Europe that generates an economically equal, socially fair, culturally diverse and environmentally sustainable development will be able to act independently from the USA, by and for Peace principles in the world.
Environmental policies must be taken into account in all political fields. This concerns foreign policy, police and legal cooperation for the prosecution of violations of environmental rules. The Kyoto agreement has to be implemented. This is urgently needed, as some natural disasters such as last year’s tsunami and hurricane Katrina in New Orleans show us. Far from being only “natural” catastrophes, they are clearly enhanced and some times precipitated by man and their effects worsened by neo-liberal policies.
EXE 2 – ANOTHER ECONOMIC MODEL FOR A SOCIAL EUROPE
Mass unemployment, the demolition of the European welfare state and in particular the worries of the elder generation about safeguarding their achieved rights and of the younger generation about increasing precariousness are bitter aspects of everyday life in all EU member states. They are the result of the neo-liberal policies practiced by the political and economic elites in the EU and by the governments of the European countries. This path is undemocratic, unsocial, lacks solidarity and destroys the environment. According to the logic of those in government today the future course of the EU will be “Carry on as usual”. But there can be no carrying on, if we want to create a European space for integration as a response to the globalisation processes. For women the labour market with lower wages, under-qualified jobs, a higher level of unemployment and seasonal work constitutes an even bigger hurdle; their social protection, pensions and other benefits derived from contributions are too often below average in intensity, coverage and in quantity, and much below the masculine standard.
Through their globally oriented market radicalism neo-liberal policies is dissolving more and more the national welfare state variations, impairing domestic demand, consolidating and raising unemployment, increasing the number of precarious jobs, organising a redistribution of social wealth from the bottom to the top of society, reinforcing the tendencies of eroding solidarity, blocking socially and ecologically sustainable growth. The dominant choice of the Common Agricultural Policy is harming small and medium-sized farmers at the European level.
An alternative to this development must promote European strategic investments that guarantee regional equilibrium and conversion, development of European public services and efficient social, environmental and research policies. These aims cannot be achieved without an increase in the currently allocated financial resources of the EU. There is a need for a European fiscal reform, namely the capacity to release European public bonds. An end of EU subordination can only be achieved with the replacement of the stability pact by a growth and employment pact.
Progressing mechanisation, automatisation and efficiency orientation are changing the structure of the world of labour. Less traditional gainful employment is offered, especially in many of the professions people have been originally trained in. In nearly all European states unemployment is increasingly marking society. Unemployed persons are often discriminated. In face of this development the political goal of overcoming unemployment has to be considered anew. Recognizing the reality of today's societies, citizens' subsistence has to be guaranteed independently of traditional gainful employment. Courage is needed to start a debate on a new, emancipatory understanding of work in a changing world of labour.
The utilisation of women in the framework of the family in order to accomplish the tasks that concern the care of persons, education of children, etc. is permitting the governments to disclaim their responsibility and to put in question the existing public services.
The policy of curbing domestic mass demand, environmental destruction and speculation in the international financial markets in favour of the ruling classes is creating a dilemma: either more neo-liberalism, cancelling European originality and advancing towards the North American model, or a new model reversing the system priorities to people’s rights and human values instead of competitiveness.
To achieve this goal we need to build a European public space, based on a new social and democratic commitment, reversing classes relationship.
For the European Left the first step towards a different economic policy must be to stop the demolition of the welfare state. Since the implementation of Reagan’s and Thatcher’s ultraliberal right-wing doctrine, social relations have been redefined on the ideological basis of unbridled competitiveness and the reduction of labour rights. An ideological change has occurred, by which neo-liberalism has used technological transformations to impose an even harder policy of domination and exploitation. The neo-liberal globalisation has upset global relations and the very structure of the production system as far as labour and capital are concerned. This transformation has produced deep and devastating changes in human relations, in the relation between human beings and nature and in the creation of a shared and fair system of values. The political Left of Europe will have to challenge the huge changes in society and economy if it wants to present convincing alternative proposals. A return to old ways of social security will not be possible; new and radical demands require alternative policies.
Defending the rights traditionally advocated by the left (political, labour, social, economic and public rights) together with the demands of new political cultures and social movements (feminist, environmental, cultural, intellectual properties’ rights) is today a necessity and a possible goal. Social movements have attracted public attention to the debate on common goods rights (especially the right to water) which have to be defended as other rights.
Our alternative economic policy must correspond to the humane logic to leave future generations a better world than the one we are living in today. In the 21st century, to fight for environmental and social rights is a solidarity obligation and a clever answer to an erroneous economic logic.
We do not only question the primacy of the market, of competitiveness and growth. There is a need, instead, for the primacy of the public interest and for political involvement in shaping society. The public is not only the national state. We have to recognize that today by public interest we mean a democracy at different levels that puts together national institutions, local governments and broad forms of citizens’ direct participation.
That must be the character of Europe.
But the current model doesn’t solve the crisis. No economist can answer the question how the global economy can survive and grow without cutting salaries, labour rights or exhausting natural resources. The European neo-liberal governments and the EU impose a dilution of workers’ rights and wage cuts because of international competition. They try to justify this by saying that without this companies would relocate their production to countries with cheaper labour costs. This is a lie. We do not accept such kind of blackmail and keep on defending social, environmental and labour rights in our countries and elsewhere.
We demand the creation of a new European public space in which we can defend labour and social rights’ convergence in all countries. Opposition to relocation of production should be carried out through social struggle, public intervention and restructuring productive activity with workers’ participation.
On the world political stage, for us Europe and the European Union as it exists today are the minimal dimension of politics as the expression of class struggle. But Europe's culture and extraordinary political experience, the achievements gained in over a hundred years of working-class movement, the debates on sustainability and alternative economic models, the self-critical analysis of the failure and defeat of socialist societies in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Soviet Union – all this is offering chances today. It can and must be related to a movement which is marking our age. A qualitative leap towards the rebirth of politics is possible.
The crisis, like war, is a constituent part of today's capitalist globalisation. Precariousness and social uncertainty are affecting employment and the life of the people, as well as the economy and capitalist development. Instability and uncertainty are the general and class measure of contemporary capitalism. These conditions are tending to widen the gap that exists between innovation and social progress. Today, it is becoming increasingly more evident that the model based on social "cohesion" is breaking up. The economic crisis is being offloaded onto the citizens of Europe through restructuring policies for the welfare systems - privatising health care and cutting pensions. Privatisation of public services is the next step towards total mercantilization of social life.
We consider social protection a central element for the cohesion of the 25 EU member states and a true productive element. In effect, the European social model is the one able to defeat dramatic and growing unemployment and precariousness. The Party of the European Left is not so much opposed to some declared objectives of the Lisbon strategy. It is opposed to this strategy, because, especially after its interim revision, everything is subordinated to competition and the liberalisation of markets. The Lisbon strategy is directing structural changes exclusively to labour and the welfare state, destructuring the quality of employment and hitting against the aim of full employment, whilst the broader neo-liberal economic framework, namely the fiscal, monetary and macro-economic policies remain unchanged. The Lisbon strategy is the European tool and lever for anti-labour restructuring at the national level and, for this reason, we are in conflict with its rationale and consequences. We have to think about a political economy able to stop the social decline, not only by defending social, tax and environmental standards in the global competition, but also by implementing them as true development boosters.
Yes, we must refuse to pay the price for the continent's economic decline. Our alternative economic concepts for the European Union must rather focus on possibilities to stave off the economic crisis by re-launching a tangible proposal to prevent uncertainty, precarious employment and poor living conditions of the European peoples. Therefore we work towards the perfectly possible aim of full and decent employment for all of those that live and work here. We welcome the work done by the MEP’s of our EL parties who in the confederal GUE/NGL parliamentary Group contribute to designing an independent “European welfare model”.
It is not enough just to defend the welfare state. The crisis-stricken conditions in which we are living are essentially the result of targeted choices taken in the framework of globalisation. And they are continuing with ever increasing intensity, from delocalizing industries and the passive internationalisation of our economies, to the reorganisation of production based on making employment structurally precarious.
We propose to invest the public funds in education and technology, taking into account the need of balanced regional and structural adaptation and compensation in all parts of the EU. Instead of competition through lowering of labour costs we want to globally enforce the international regulations for active labour rights – the universal standards of the ILO conventions (above all ILO standards for “decent work”) in all labour relations and especially in such parts of the world where workers are forced to compete in semi-slavery conditions. This can and will be an important step against wage and social dumping in the global economy.
The European Left will continue to support all actions against the increasingly precarious nature of labour, for giving it a new status of rights and participation. One only has to look at the Bolkestein directive and the working hours directive aiming at reorganising the production system by weakening the working people. Millions of them - most seriously affected are women, young people and migrants - are gradually sliding beneath the poverty line.
Reducing working hours, improving work quality, strengthening social security in terms of universality and a redistributive rationale, health and safety in work places, creating wherever it is absent and strengthening a social protection system for the unemployed and for vulnerable groups – all these are central aims of the struggle of the Party of the European Left in the social field.
What matters in terms of collective agreements is to defend this system throughout Europe and ban the danger stemming from deregulation by means of various European directives. In order to avoid relocation and competition among workers we have to help create European common standards for wages, public pensions, public services, etc.
This alternative has to be considered beyond fighting the Bolkestein-directive and defending the public sector. We must broaden the debate to new forms of a social economy and the creation of public structures where they are weak or not existing at all. Innovation, improving and democratising public management is a task of the Left.
Our proposals will have to be detailed and qualified, shared with the trade unions and all social representations of working and jobless people. The alternative society for Europe requires a radical change of direction in economic and social politics, which takes into account the demands of the movements, relates to the labour world, to environmentalism and feminism. The lever for change is therefore the construction of political, trade unions’ and social alliances in order to contribute to the growth of a great workers’ and alternative movement. By this we mean supporting a European campaign and common proposals to defend and advance working class interests. What we have to do is to give once again priority to the Marxian theme of the liberation of labour, in other words, to appreciate the value of what the labour force has accumulated for society, so that rights and wages in a non-commodified society will increasingly become variables independent of the domination of business. In this spirit we are taking on the demands and experience of the labour and social movements.
Moreover, we think that the ECB should have a completely new role and mission, so that it can be democratically monitored by giving up the central role of monetary policies and abandon the stability and growth pact. It is not comprehensible to stick to the rigid rules of the pact although it just has proved that it does not stimulate neither economic stability nor employment because of its one-sided fixation on monetary stability. It must be replaced by introducing social, employment and ecological criteria into a new agreement or “pact” and must contain more flanking regulations to coordinate the monetary policy of the European Central Bank with the economic and financial policy of the member states.
EXE 3 – RADICAL AND PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY
For us an essential condition for another Europe is to build a participatory democracy. Only with the people entering policy it is possible to build a different Europe.
The crisis of neo-liberalism is also deepening the crisis of democracy. A society generating social injustices, is systematically producing phenomena of exclusion and authoritarianism. We must fight this trend, in order to reopen public spaces where people do participate and have a leading role in an enhanced democracy. No issue of significance to the European future must be discussed or decided without the direct involvement of the European citizens. This project requires our will to change things and our creativity from the local up to the European levels. It demands from us a large degree of readiness to learn and to change ourselves. The project will only be successful if it leads to concrete and, above all, feasible proposals for real alternatives. It can only succeed, if the process remains open, participatory, democratic and cooperative in relation to experience, ideas and initiatives of the partners in the social movements. The movements, trade unions and other democratic forces have been working successfully in this direction. Their prime goal has been precisely that of reopening public political spaces, particularly for the younger generation. Politics must restore the sovereignty of the European people. To us participation means introducing more elements of direct democracy and citizens’ involvement. Petitions, plebiscites and referenda are the instruments to be used.
We must defeat the patriarchal society and achieve a true gender democracy. It is not only a matter of raising the issue of women's emancipation and equality, but taking into account gender differences and to fight against any gender discrimination not only with reference to the distribution of goods, rights and obligations, but also to the participation of women as social subjects in the determination of the norms that rule society. The concept of parity – and of democracy based on parity, is the prolongation of the fight for civil rights by the movements of the suffragettes.
We stand for another form of functioning of society, of participation, of policies in order to promote economic independence, to put an end to gender specific violence, to finish with the under-representation of women. We express our will to fully affirm the right and freedom of sexual orientation, to combat any discrimination and violence. We denounce sexist violence as being an arm of domination of men over women and refuse to consider them as natural or accidental.
To let this parity take on all its meaning, we owe ourselves to apply it in our political parties, to put in place an organisation, so as to make the reform of activism compatible to their way of life.
We criticise the Constitutional Treaty that emerged from the convention, for it was based on two serious assumptions: The first was the decision not to let it be written by the European peoples, but to make it the exclusive preserve of the governments of the European Union. The second is the fact that it gives an absolutely central position to the market in building Europe's political unity. We firmly believe in the historical need of European unity; we are committed Europeans. For this very reason we reject a constitutional treaty of this kind: in the name of a fuller and deeper democracy on our continent. We support the establishment of new rights and for this reason we consider the unification process an important and necessary step to promote such rights on a European scale. The Constitutional Treaty is blocked and politically dead.
This is the reason why the victory of the No is so important to us. It was a leftist vote, positive to European integration, but decisively against neo-liberal mercantilism. But we should not forget that this victory has opened a ruling class crisis that can be a risk for democracy.
We want to launch a real democratic process. This process should allow a broad, democratic participation of the European peoples, engaging the European Parliament with national and regional parliaments and consulting the popular organisations. It should have a clear mandate to draft a text of fundamental rights that can be subsequently put to a referendum.
In Europe a feeling of opposition to the governments is growing. The last European elections have also shown a clash between elites and people. The European Left Party will actively contribute to the unfolding of a broad public debate on the future of Europe and its societies. We support the proposal of organisations and movements within the European Social Form to establish a round table of representatives of social movements, left parties and organisations as well as interested persons from culture, the media, and the economy to conduct a broad discussion on concrete alternatives.
Antisocial and ultra-neo-liberal politics have opened new spaces for the formations of the extreme right. It is an alarm that crosses the whole of Europe in different forms, but all characterized by xenophobia, islamophobia, anti-Semitism, populism and violence. Among these formations there are both open neo-Nazi and neo-fascist groups but also formations in government responsibility.
The active strengthening of civil society structures against far-Right positions, against reactionary nationalism, exclusion, discrimination and intolerance, for integration as well as cultural and social diversity is for us an essential contribution to more democracy. We will continue to fight with all our might and determination against positions aimed at curtailing fundamental rights in a democratic society, freedom, equality, the division of powers and equal democratic participation as represented today by the reactionary xenophobic Right all over Europe. We are striving for broad democratic alliances to this end.
We have supported the enlargement and integration of Europe.
We have agreed to and welcomed the entry of 8 new Eastern and Central-European countries, Cyprus and Malta since we think that the European political space does not stop at the borders between the former East and West blocks. We also notice that the accession process was not used for reviewing the hitherto practiced political, economic and social logic of EU integration. No decisive steps have been taken to guarantee the working and production conditions in all member states. The European Union remains a big single market for the circulation of capitals, commodities and increasingly services while – against the proclamations – the working women and men, even more the migrants among them, are not able and often not allowed to move freely.
The process of the European peoples drawing closer together will only develop its democratic potential if it aims at similar living conditions and is thus withdrawn from the logic of marketing regional economic advantages. Implementing common social, ecological and democratic minimum standards is the essential factor. This is all the more true for further EU enlargement and the cooperation of all European countries.
We welcome the possible entry of of Turkey to the EU, a prevailingly Islamic country that we consider part of the European cultural area. But we consider it necessary for Turkey to respect its obligations and commitments towards the EU and international law, including a solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of the UN resolutions, to observe democratic and human rights, to find a democratic solution to the problem of its Kurdish population.
One of the acid tests for the construction of democracy in Europe is whether we can succeed in winning full citizenship rights for migrants. Millions of people live illegally in Europe today. and are often victims of unscrupulous exploitation. They need the prospect of a legal status. For the construction of democracy in Europe we need to fight human trafficking. The causes of trafficking lie in poverty. Victims of trafficking are normally poor and brutally exploited. All countries should sign and ratify the International Convention on the protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families as well as the Palermo protocol. The EL supports asylum and migration policies on the basis of consistent high-level human rights standards.
It is on Europe's ability to implement concrete policies to welcome in migrants and to show respect for all those who leave their homelands for economic reasons and those who are fleeing war and conflict, that a new idea of citizenship is based. This is why we support the campaign to extend citizenship to all those who live within the territory of the European Union.
An EU-wide harmonisation of the asylum and migration policies on the basis of consistent human rights standards as well as the same integration policy applicable throughout Europe which excludes the possibility of abusing migrants for wage and social dumping and grants them equal rights, pave the way towards this goal. We strongly condemn the inhumane practices adopted by most of Europe's governments: rejection of migrants, dispatching them to the external borders, and setting up detention centres for so-called "illegal immigrants". We believe that no human being can be defined as "illegal", and that human integrity and protection must be guaranteed by the institutions of the state.
We are also combating racism and xenophobia, which have increased in the past few years. All forms of discrimination against those who are “different” are a crime against humanity. We are staunchly opposed to xenophobia, anti-Semitism and reject any campaign against Islam intended to fuel a so-called clash of civilisations.
We consider individual liberties and civil rights an essential part of our political action. Such liberties are based on fundamental ideas, including laicism which should be enshrined as a principle of functioning, because it is an universal value that permits to avoid undemocratic influences in all domains of society as well as to refute religious discrimination and extremism.
In recent years, the area of democratic and civil rights has been under ferocious attacks. The formation of a single judicial area and the European arrest warrant have set stifling and uncontrollable limits, are curbing freedoms and civil rights of EU residents and penalising thought.
In the same direction, the EU agreement on judicial assistance and extradition as well as the abolishment of confidentiality of citizens' communications, that is pursued, are excessively restrictive measures against individual freedoms and rights. Security and individual freedoms are not antagonistic notions and should proceed in parallel.
EXE 4 - BUILDING ALLIANCES
A truly new phenomenon at the dawn of this century is the emergence of new movements and their capacity to link up in a collective drive forward. They show the world a new possibility for change. The European Left has to understand the nature of these movements and the resources they are generating, in order to offer its contribution to developing a general idea of reforming politics and the relationship between politics and the main social actors. Simultaneously, and with a linkage that is not just a matter of timing, the dramatic consequences of capitalist globalisation affecting all people are emerging with glaring evidence. Both are putting the issue of the transformation of society back on the current agenda. It is also being raised subjectively by the growing awareness of the movements, and may be summed up in the slogan of the social forums: "Another world is possible". The problem has therefore been spelled out, but not solved. Another scenario has opened up: the deepening economic and social crisis and the war that is precipitating into a clash of civilisations and even a total crisis of civilization. Uncertainty dominates our age, the alternative "socialism or barbarism" is no matter of the past.
We have to cooperate with many others, not only with political parties and various social forces. That it was a correct idea to found the Party of the European Left, has been demonstrated by it being the only pro-European political force that supported the No to the Constitutional Treaty. To make further progress, the European Left should offer a cooperation proposal to all forces willing to combat neo-liberal policies in Europe. It has to develop convergences with all sectors who took a stance against the Treaty because of European convictions. At the same time it has to enter into a political dialogue with all those who gave the Treaty their critical support and are today recognizing, that the whole process has failed. In this way, the EL should strive to maximize convergences, thus potentiating the political ambition of a democratic and social refoundation of Europe.
For this reason we support the proposal presented at the international meeting on 24 June, 2005 in Paris to re-open the process towards a new orientation of the European Union’s development and the European countries’ policies by starting a campaign of collecting signatures on a mass-petition in all EU member countries. We will participate in this broad citizens’ movement for a manifesto or a charter of social and political rights which is fitting to the Europe we want. We consider this new movement to become a consistent part of the European Social Forum which is preparing its 5th Meeting in Athens 2006. We are ready to take part in re-opening a concrete discussion on European politics by the women and men all over the continent interested and willing to do so.
Our idea of Europe has to burn from the left and from the people. Both are indispensable to build a fighting movement with great social and peace campaigns to defeat neo-liberalism on our continent and to give hope for a Europe of social justice.
Our task is to contribute to the creation of a popular left and social majority, that is and must be bigger than us, including other political parties, the European Social Forum, social movements, feminists, trade unions, popular associations and individuals. A popular majority will growth by alliances and convergences with all those, who want to build another Europe. This is our will.
We, members and friends of the European Left, want to declare once again our active solidarity with all peoples, movements and individuals who suffer of the injustice and the devastating consequences of capitalist globalisation. We want to develop an active cooperation with all those who are fighting for a fair world.
Together we can do it.
Yes, we can change Europe!