Image: Nicolas Raymond, freestock.ca, CC BY 3.0
  • 25 October 2016 - 26 October 2016
  • Brussels
  • Workshop on Productive Transformation
  • Europe Deserves Better: Building Alliances Towards a New Model of Development

  • In close cooperation with the Nicos Poulantzas Institute and the Brussels office of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, transform! wishes to present the outcomes of its work on Europe’s productive transformation and to exchange views on similar plans put forward by other progressive forces.

    This two-day workshop, bringing together representatives of trade unions, networks of heterodox economists , progressive political foundations and parties, will be the first step towards the setting-up of a collective platform aiming at a public conference in 2017 where a wide range of actors and organisations would present their ideas of a new model of development for Europe – as well as their points of convergence.

    Is the European Union on the verge of collapsing? During the past years, we have witnessed a set of events that would tend to suggest so – from the moment that the SYRIZA-led Greek government was cornered into signing the most socially brutal and economically destructive of all Memoranda of Understanding imposed upon the country on the 13th of July 2015 to the date on which a clear majority of British voters decided that their country would be better off outside the EU, opening up an unprecedented political void. On top of all that, it is no secret that the Eurozone’s economy did not escape from stagnation. According to the latest Eurostat figures, the 19-member Eurozone grew by 0.3 % in the third quarter of 2015, while the average unemployment rate remains above 10 %, with striking inequalities within and between countries.

    A sluggish economy barely offering any perspective, a fear of losing grip over one’s country skilfully staged by far-right parties, and the threat – quite real this one – of downward social mobility for oneself or one’s offspring are some of the factors that explain why so many Europeans throw themselves into the arms of social-chauvinist and/or openly xenophobic political forces. The Brexit vote is to be understood as the latest example of this trend. A quick look at the results shows a clear divide between the winners and the losers of globalisation. Working class voters massively supporting the leave-vote also used the referendum for expressing their indignation towards the entire political class while simultaneously rejecting the country’s EU membership perceived as a major cause of their problems. Right-wing populist politicians added fuel on fire by blaming immigrants for the collapse of the social welfare system, carefully concealing the role of decades of neoliberal policies in the dismantling of labour and social rights. But regardless of the above, the Brexit vote could be seen as a further indication of the deep-rooted disbelief over the very possibility of a European project capable of addressing citizens’ needs.

    In this context, a fairer, more democratic and socially just Europe requires a genuine cooperation, especially in the light of the current challenges that we are confronted with. It is worth mentioning some of them, and what we believe needs to be done. To oppose casualization of precarious forms of employment, growing social insecurity and social dumping between and within EU countries; to tackle climate change and make sure that the inevitable energy transition will be just towards workers; to overcome the growing asymmetries between the core and the periphery. And to do so, a EU-wide industrial policy as a part of a general strategy for Europe’s productive transformation is to play a crucial role. The very concept of productive transformation does not only imply the reconstruction of European productive capacities, but also the establishment of a new model of development that meets social needs and ecological imperatives. The politics of European integration is at stake. And it might very well collapse if progressive political and social forces – united in their diversity – do not come closer together to promote a progressive EU-wide industrial policy. Given the current state of the balance of power in Europe, we believe that we cannot afford the luxury not to.

    In order to contribute to forging such an alliance, we would like to invite representatives of trade unions, heterodox economists’ networks, political foundations and progressive political parties to sit together and discuss their respective views regarding a new model of development for Europe. Our objective is to determine the points of convergence that we could put forward together on the one hand, and to start preparing a large European conference open to the public to be held in Brussels in the first quarter of 2017, before the German and French general elections, on the other. We see this preparatory work leading to the conference as a first step towards the creation of a progressive platform which would aim to bring us all closer together and to have us take joint action based on a collectively defined agenda.

    Contact and registration:
    Maxime Benatouil
    benatouil@transform-network.net