Over 20 participants from across Europe gathered in Paris on 8 and 9 December on the occasion of a transform! workshop dedicated to the re-launch of industry in Europe.
In spite of their diversity of backgrounds – economists, unionists, industrial sociologists, environmental activists –, all acknowledged the crucial importance of a renewed industrial policy to allow a European alternative recovery plan for addressing current social, ecological, democratic and economic challenges.
The Greek Premier Antonis Samaras called early presidential election, the probability of snap parliamentary elections is high – and SYRIZA is in a position to win. This acceleration acutely raises the issue of a progressive alternative plan to oppose the Juncker Plan’s structural weaknesses and pro-business orientations. Politicizing the debt and ending austerity, if highly necessary, won’t be enough. They are conditions to the very possibility of change. What Europe needs – and especially so-called periphery countries – is a plan and a massive stimulus package capable of addressing the economic, social, democratic and environmental challenges ahead: that is, a thorough productive-social transformation within the framework of climate change imperatives.
The work undertaken by transform! on the re-launch of industry and Productive Transformation must be seen as a contribution to the European New Deal proposed by Alexis Tsipras. The Juncker Plan, if it acknowledges the need for investment in appearance, is not based on an ambitious European strategy of co-development that would enhance the advantages of the regions, having them cooperate – and not compete – with each other. It does not mobilize enough financial means, does not aim at fostering demand or addressing social needs, does not break with the austeritarian logic, and still favor an export-led model.
Europe needs to re-launch its industry, so that it can ensure a genuine social-productive transformation to overcome the crisis. The compass of such a transformation must be an ecological and democratic transition affecting positively every level of production and power. In other words, Europe needs a new model of development in complete contrast with the mainstream discourse on competitiveness, labour and finance. In this ideological battle, we have to reverse the trend and to engage in the battle for new representations providing an alternative view on principles and norms that underpin political action.
Labour enhancement is a pre-condition for an ambitious alternative, with regard to wages, personal development, workers’ skills and workers’ contributions to innovation – which implies another definition/concept of the firm and the de-financialization of the economy. Reducing Europe’s polarization, with its growing internal asymmetries between “center” and “periphery” in terms of industrial fabric and political influence, must be the main guideline of a Left alternative plan to overcome the crisis. Its funding was highly debated during the workshop. Providing concrete progressive proposals for short, medium and long term financing will also be central issues to the work of transform!
A joint paper aiming at compiling the working group’s outcomes will be issued by the end of January 2015, and will be presented throughout the coming year at numerous events.
See the workshop programme here
Find the first extensive report of the working group here
For more information: benatouil(at)transform-network.net