Real Alternatives: For a new European social pact

European Alternatives supports the transnational wave of protests demanding a radical change of direction in Europe’s response to the financial crisis and a restoration of democratic control over economic decision-making, and advances 9 concrete proposals.

In recent months almost all European countries have been subject to a politics of austerity, cuts to the social security system, and a general tendency to disproportionately place the cost of the economic crisis and of saving the banks onto the weaker parts of the population.

Austerity politics is not working. It is neither a democratic, nor a just, nor an effective way out of the crisis. Cuts to welfare, forced privatisations, and reduction of labour costs are dragging European countries in a vicious circle of declining economic output and increasing deficits, whilst favouring the very same economic and financial interests that were responsible for the crisis in the first place.

The idea that markets can autoregulate themselves has been exploded by the crisis, and therefore politics must take control over the economy again. In Europe, the survival of the European economy requires coordinated political decisions to be taken. At the moment, they are being taken with no democratic participation, and with results that many citizens perceive as totally unfair. Current protests are a manifestation of this shared feeling of injustice.

The European social pact based on a redistributive social market economy has been suspended, and is in the process of being re-written by economic elites and their weak political spokespersons. The protests spreading internationally can be seen as a recognition of the constituent moment triggered by the permanent crisis, and as a democratic refusal to have a new pact signed above the citienzs’ heads.

The proposals of the most powerful heads of state for exiting the crisis risk not only being ineffective, but consigning large numbers of citizens to a future bereft of the hope of economic and social wellbeing. To the extent that economically poor countries are put under the tutelage of economically rich countries, there is a risk of two-class citizenship opening up as well – where the citizens of rich countries have much more of a say in the future of Europe than the citizens of poor countries. That is neither real democracy, nor real equality.

European Alternatives refuses the false logic of all those claiming that no serious alternatives are being put forwards. Alternatives for the relaunch of the European social pact exist and are being very clearly expressed, counting both revenue-raising and revenue-spending proposals. Including:

  1. Anticipating the implementation of a EU-wide Financial Transaction Tax to 2012.
  2. Implementing an EU-wide Carbon Tax.
  3.  Transitioning eurozone public debt to jointly guaranteed Eurobonds.
  4. Issuing EU-backed project bonds to finance investment in renewable energies and sustainable urban mobility.
  5. Capping income inequalities for all EU states and demanding structural measures for a redistribution of wealth.
  6. Establishing a European Basic Income.
  7. Guaranteeing the right of access to common goods, including education, health, basic services, housing.
  8. Changing the mandate for the ECB to include controlling unemployment levels, and granting the ECB the right to print money and buy bonds directly from public treasuries at low interest rates.
  9. Developing a renewed growth and stability pact which is elaborated with citizen and parliamentary participation at a directly European level.

The sustained degeneration of social cohesion in European countries can be halted with reasonable and just economic policies. Failure to do so will justify a radicalisation of social conflict and give further momentum to more radical demands.

Failure to restructure the European social pact will equally lead to the re-emergence of nationalisms and racisms, the signs of which have already been manifested through the rise of far-right xenophobic parties in most European countries.

Regaining public control over the economy requires the construction of a democratic European political space able to take initiative and to be directly accountable to citizens. Now more than ever, it is clear that making the jump to a complete political and economic union is the only chance for European citizens to regain democratic control over their societies, ending the complete subservience of national states to the shock therapy of financial markets through unaccountable supranational impositions.

Together with social movements, civil society, and citizens from throughout Europe and beyond, European Alternatives accepts the challenge of permanent mobilisation and pledges to devote its time and resources to fight for real democracy and real equality throughout Europe.