• Steps towards a Movement for a Social Europe

  • By Kenneth Haar | 25 May 12
  • After the “EU in Crisis” Conference in Brussels

    For several years now, the EU’s response to the crisis has been austerity, attacks on social rights, and a plethora of new laws that empower unelected Commission officials to influence economic policies through technocratic and deeply undemocratic procedures. It’s not just the Greeks that are in trouble, it’s all of us. There are faint small glimpses of hope here and there, but there is a dire need for a European movement to emerge to challenge this and make alternatives a reality.

    The urgent need to change direction was expressed vocally at a packed conference in Brussels, organised by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) in cooperation with Transnational Institute (TNI) to discuss the “EU in Crisis: Analysis, Resistance and Alternatives to Corporate Europe”, see:

    http://www.corporateeurope.org/eu-crisis-analysis-resistance-and-alternatives-corporate-europe

    About 250 activists from across the EU member states, including trade unionists, environmentalists, economists and angry citizens, condemned the Austerity Treaty as an attack on social rights and democracy, backing a statement urging a radical change of course.

    And to support the call, a new pan-European network was formed to oppose the Treaty and to campaign against other measures in the authoritarian neoliberal model being imposed from Brussels at the moment.

    The network is to do two things, basically.

    First, it will continue and improve the debate on strategy and alternatives, and to share analysis. The conference revealed that there is actually a solid basis for common ground among social movements at the moment. With a little more work, if handled skilfully. The need for a clearer political response to counter the widespread myth that there is no alternative, was voiced repeatedly at the conference.

    Secondly, it will be part of a wider effort to strengthen social movements’ pan-European resistance to the EU’s emerging authoritarian neoliberal economic governance regime that has been under construction since the outbreak of the Euro-crisis.

    At the moment, EU decision makers pay little attention to social movements. However strong the opposition of social movements might be at the national level, their demands are easily ignored in Brussels.

    The CEO conference is but one encouraging sign of growing EU-wide opposition against the EU’s response to the economic crisis. The conference showed that there are promising attempts to build European convergence at the moment – most (if not all) of which are complementary. Not least the Altersummit organised by different actors together with the Joint Social Conference, and the Florence + 10 event in Italy.  

    Hopefully, by the end of this year, we won’t just have thousands of initiatives, hundreds of protests, dozens of coalitions, but even a genuine European movement for a social Europe that can make a difference in the years to come.