The 2nd European Forum of Left, Green and Progressive Forces met in Bilbao from 9-11th November, drawing hundreds from across Europe and beyond, to discuss the key political challenges of our time – and what our response can be. The following statement was agreed at the conference.
“Millions of Europeans have suffered and still suffer from the attacks of predatory capitalism, which promote labour, social, economic and institutional change with the aim of demolishing the historic achievements of the working class and the popular strata, to impose an authoritarian, precarious, deregulated society, without labour, social or citizens’ rights.
On this basis, those of us who have gathered in Bilbao on November 9, 10 and 11 of 2018, for the second European Forum of left, green and progressive forces, call upon the popular groups from all over Europe to be on alert and mobilized.
We are on alert against the social harms and inequalities that increasingly tear our societies apart, and which are aggravated every day by policies that promote austerity, the loss of social benefits and competition among workers. We are on alert against the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few, when insecurity and poverty grow throughout Europe.
We stand up for the climate, aware of the threat of catastrophic climate change, of air pollution and the risks to biodiversity, because the planet is warming and runs the risk of becoming uninhabitable if nothing is urgently done to change the course of our economic and industrial models, as is once again requested in the alarming report published by the IPCC.
Our main message is the need to be on alert and mobilized to confront the policies that are crushing the peoples of Europe, who are ignored by the rich and powerful, the financial agents and the markets in their search for neoliberal policies.
It is time to combine our forces and open the door to a new era, a path towards a new economic, social and ecological model, including new responses to emancipation and democratic progress to face the most important challenges of humankind. It is time to work and act together to make our energies converge over the long term, because we know that the citizens of Europe face historic challenges without precedent, and that none of our forces can face these challenges alone. Many different forces are working together to create another kind of future and a form of development that moves away from this brutal and decadent capitalism.
We are facing a Brexit full of unknowns for British citizens and for non-British people living and working in Britain, at the same time as elections to the European Parliament that will likely change the balance of forces and of power within the EU. So it is vital that these forces work more actively together to make citizens of Europe pronounce loud and clear that another way is possible: the way of social progress, inclusion, democracy, peace, respect for equality between men and women, and in general among all people, sustainable development from the environmental point of view and inclusive economic growth. We want to make these popular forces combine their energies. Based on these common challenges, and in line with the call of the first European Forum of Left, Green and Progressive Forces held in Marseille in November 2017, we have decided that this Forum must continue our work to create a permanent convergence space at the European level.
Our forces are diverse. Whether rooted in the history of the struggles of the workers’ movement, anti-fascist, internationalist, green, emancipatory or emerging from mobilizations within society, we are aware that we have a lot in common and that we also have our differences. We do not deny these differences, and each of our forces is and remains fully sovereign in its decisions. The objective is to make these differences not interfere in the pursuit of the common objective of this forum, providing a framework that offers political, social, labour and civic forces the opportunity to contribute their ideas, examine them, derive common axes of political action, encourage the people to mobilize at the national and European level, and to promote cooperation between left, green and progressive forces everywhere, as well as in the European Parliament.
We propose to organise the third forum as part of the combined actions that we agree to develop in 2019. There are many potential fronts of action. This year, we propose to join forces and focus on four basic axes:
Inequality and poverty continue rising in Europe, while banks, the financial sector, and multinationals feast at a time in which social and economic progress is urgently needed. The GDP of the EU is 17 trillion euros. Undoubtedly, inequality and poverty is increasing. Since 2009, the ECB has injected almost 5 trillion euros into the economy of this area, while tax evasion in the same territory amounts to almost one trillion euros. This money should be redirected in order to satisfy social necessities, to finance public services and the environment, as well as to alleviate the unsustainability of the sovereign debt.
In this way, as progressive and left movements, we defend the right to a decent job for all, including full employment, with quality working conditions, sufficient salaries, security, social protection, without discrimination, and with equality between men and women. We propose that states’ wealth and power serve to favour the development of a dignified life without discrimination based on gender, expression and sexual or affective identity.
We propose to establish new criteria on how to spend money in Europe in favour of a transformation of the productive structures and for a new social and ecological development model based on a Framework Convention that proposes a new economic and productive model.
On this basis we put forward the intention to open a debate on the creation of a European financial, fiscal and budgetary COP similar to the COP on climate change.
Women’s rights must be defended. One of the pillars on which the hegemony of liberalism is based is patriarchy, which itself is based on ideological values that relegate women to a secondary role in society, normalizing the wage gap, and which fails to involve the eradication of sexist violence from the root, such as trafficking of women and minors for sexual exploitation, because these and other situations of inequality and discrimination maintain and sustain this system that subordinates women. Moreover, we have to put an end to discriminations against LGBTQ people.
The lack of solidarity, equality and equity only generates greater inequality, discrimination and violence that will affect to a greater extent those who have already been victims of an economic, fiscal and political crisis. We are convinced that there will be no real democracy while women do not live free, without violence, and with equal rights to men. For this reason, the fight against patriarchy is fundamental for the construction of a new project of society that puts the value of people’s lives above the benefit of the markets. The equitable distribution of productive and reproductive work is fundamental for the recognition of social and labour rights that prevent all types of exploitation of women.
Based on these premises from this Forum of Left, Green and Progressive forces, we set out to elaborate a protocol for gender equality that assumes the full incorporation of women into the world of work, and of men into care work, and which aims to overcome inequalities and ensure gender equality in all spheres of life.
The relaunch of military spending and the arms race in line with NATO’s objectives represents a serious risk to peace. The principles of collective security, as defined in the Charter of the United Nations, are threatened. Donald Trump’s policies are also putting pressure on all Europe. The question of relations between all European nations and neighbouring regions must be reconsidered on the basis of these principles.
We propose to organize citizen debates throughout Europe to promote the idea of a pan-European conference for peace and collective security. It will bring together people across the continent to reject the course towards war in favour of a peaceful and secure world. It should permit binding agreements with a single standard on asylum and protection of international law by means of a migration policy based on solidarity and responsibility, guaranteeing secure rescue paths for the Mediterranean. We have to build answers based on solidarity, such as the reform of the Dublin system. Hospitality policies are not only a matter of mercy but remain a fundamental part of any redistributive action.
A democratic society is one that responds to and protects the needs of its citizens having the capacity to listen and act for collective benefit. This is why we consider that the main rationale defining the European Union is the weakness of the functioning of democracy. The neoliberal orientation of its treaties is imposed without the consent of the people, and sometimes against their will. For instance, the ECB works without any democratic control. This is combined with asymmetrical inter-governmentalism, policies led by conservative majorities, and the criteria of some of the European institutions, which are also an attack against democracy.
What dominates in Europe is not cooperation but rather competition and authoritarianism. Today, there are even countries who are calling for “illiberalism”, in other words, liberalism without democracy. Reactionary and far-right forces must be fought tirelessly and without any compromise, as pluralism and democracy are essential pillars for European peoples and nations.
In order for Europe to have a different future, the challenge is to combine respect for popular sovereignty, cooperation between peoples and nations and to pool resources to achieve shared social and environmental objectives. Our goal is to fight for a Europe that is a fully cooperative, solidary, equal and socially advanced democracy. We call for empowering popular sovereignty by launching a new charter for sovereign democracy in Europe
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