The present moment appears as a possible turning point in European economic and political history: the propagation of the economic crisis and ensuing austerity measures to more and more member states, doubts about the future of the common currency and of the European Union itself all suggest that decisive action must be taken. The question everyone is posing is: by whom?
From Eurobonds to supranational deficit controls, over these weeks and months several options for a renewed European economic government are being discussed. And indeed, today the necessity of a common European stance is felt as never before. But, strikingly, only two kinds of figures sit at the negotiating table: ministers of member states, and representatives of the financial sector. Ministers pursue a blurry notion of national interest and play games of power-struggle against each other, caring more of guarding their sovereignty or national advantages than tabling solutions that will work for all Europeans. Representatives of the financial sector, making everyone forget the huge public expenditure to sustain the sector, claim there is no alternative to financial capital; Europe should continue cutting welfare expenditure and deregulating the capital and labour markets, ironically following the same failing recipe forced on developing nations in the 1980s.
There is one great absent at this table: it is European citizens. And for as long as the future of Europe’s economy is negotiated without participation of the citizens, these changes will be ineffectual, uninspired, and unrepresentative, and most likely unequal and unjust.
For this reason European Alternatives has launched a petition demanding European institutions and members states recognise the necessity of engaging European citizens in the definition of a new European economic architecture. We demand a European Social Convention on the Future of Europe's Economy be called as a matter of urgency, bringing together the third sector, trade unions, the world of associationism, and citizens themselves from throughout Europe to deliberate on the desired direction for a post-crisis Europe. Such Convention should set the outlines fo a more just and sustainable economy for after the crisis, one based on the principles of democracy, solidarity, and the common good.