The 2nd Edition of the Joint Social Conference in Romania was organized by the AD FSR together with CSDR TU Confederation, SIPA ‘Muntenia’ TU of Arges County and FSLI TU Federation on the 22nd of October 2011 in Bucharest as part of the enlargement of the European Joint Social Conference process. More than 120 representatives of Trade Unions, NGOs and Social Movements and Networks from Romania and 8 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Serbia) took part in the event. As a sequel, this aims at continuing and entrenching at the next level the initiative started in September 2010 in the City of Pitesti, Romania – that was the first edition of the Joint Social Conference in Romania. The JSC Ro 2 aimed at gathering all the 5 (five) major TU Confederations in Romania, important Romanian TU Federations in different sectors of activity, as well as Romanian actors of the Civil Society (Social Movements, NGOs, etc) around 2 (two) Themes of paramount and common interests for all, namely ‘Democratic Governance. Concept and Alternatives’ and ‘Corruption. Approach and Combat’. The aforementioned Themes have been taken from the List of Priorities set by the JSC in Brussels on 10th of March 2011. Beyond that, the JSC Ro 2 aimed at acting as a multi-level engine-bridge connecting not only the Romanian initiative to European initiatives such as the JSC, but also other Central-Eastern European countries to Europe, as well as amongst themselves and with Romania. Given the European relevance of the JSC Ro 2, the conference has been supported by the Initiative Committee of the European Joint Social Conference (JSC IC). For similar reasons, it has been supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung – South Eastern Europe Office in Belgrade.
The logic of organizing a Social Conference in Romania follows after getting involved in the process of organizing and participating at the European Joint Social Conference in Brussels – see www.jointsocialconference.eu. Most of the reasoning behind it is applicable to this initiative in Romania. Moreover, this could become a role-model for practically implementing at National level, as well as at Central-European level, the experiences, the guiding principles and objectives shared and agreed upon by Trade Unions and Social Movements at European level. In other words, this means thinking globally and acting locally/regionally to reinforce a European initiative/process. In terms of European relevance, the JSC Ro 2 aimed at a number of strategic targets, namely:
Alike in case of the Initiative of organizing the European Joint Social Conference in Brussels, one should bear in mind that this is yet an experiment in Romania and so much the more in Central-Europe – where political, historical, cultural and psycho-social conditions are rather different than those in Western Europe.
The political necessity of having organized the JSC Ro 2 lies in the fact that Romania has arguably been the European country where the most aggressive anti-social and counter productive Austerity measures have been taken so far. One year ago salaries in the Public Sector were cut by 25%, pensions by 15%, scholarships for pupils and students as well as allocations for under full age children by 10%, whilst the VAT was raised from 19% to 24%. We are talking about a country of huge discrepancies where the salaries and pensions of the vast majority of the people are probably the lowest in the whole European Union (the real average salary is less than 180 Euro per month whilst the real average pension is less than 150 Euro per month) but the salaries of high officials in State/Public Companies and National Agencies (mining companies, electricity and gas companies, railway companies, aviation agencies and companies, etc) and the Government may amount up to 50,000 Euro per month. We are talking about a country where generalized Corruption is probably the highest in Europe. We are talking about a country where State and Public Authorities, have been politicized and subdued to the PDL State-like Dictatorial Party. We are talking about a country where one of the fundamental Principles of Democracy and Lawful State, namely the Principle of Separation of Powers in the State, has been shattered by the political influence of the Political Power. Speaking about the dangers posed by the ‘Economic Governance’ and the ‘Euro Plus Pact’ that are to be voted in the Plenary Session of the European Parliament during the month of June 2011, one should be aware of the fact that the aims of the aforementioned have already been forcefully and undemocratically imposed in Romania. All in all, the situation in Romania, which may well be a smaller-scale neoliberal experiment to be exported and implemented throughout Europe, is characterized by the following:
In turn, this may have a number of positive results as follows:
· it may lead to a better understanding of the cultural, political, social, and economic realities in the region, that is to say it may enrich the Western European experience and initiatives;
· it may enrich the Central-Eastern European political culture and experience in terms of Trade Unions, Social Movements and NGOs
· it may lead to finding new and better ways of cooperation in terms of Trade Union and Social Movements initiatives and struggles;
· it may lead to a better coordination between European and National struggles/actions/events
The most disturbing negative results of JSC Ro 2 consist of the following: