In the wake of the European trade-union mobilisation on September 29 in Brussels various political meetings took place in order to strategise joint struggles against the neoliberal policies in Europe. transform! europe took part in them.
On September 29 the Initiative Group of the Joint Social Conference met in Brussels. After the European Social Forum in Malmö, some twenty European trade unions and social movements had decided, in consultation with the ETUC, to launch a joint discussion process. In the medium term, its aim was to gather each year – just before the Spring Summit where the EU leaders announce their social and economic priorities – a large platform of European and national trade unions and anti-globalisation movements so that, on the basis of intensive common work, they could express our own agenda, policy priorities and mobilisation prospects. Although transform! europe is not a full member of the initiative group it was decided to invite its coordinator Walter Baier regularly to its meetings. (To learn more about the JSC visit www.jointsocialconference.eu)
The next important public initiative is the first “Social Spring Conference” in Brussels (International Trade Union House) on Thursday March 10 and Friday March 11 2011. The Conference is open but the number of participants (200) will be monitored, in part to ensure a balanced participation.
One of the conference’s goals is to agree on a final declaration. A draft will be circulated in January. The March Conference will enlarge the process in two dimensions: more organisations and more countries in the Group of Initiative; and new or supplementary ideas and discussions.
On September 25 – 26 the first edition of the Joint Social Conference in Romania (JSC Ro) took place in the City of Pitesti. Its main objective was to promote the model and the general aims of the Joint Social Conference Brussels European initiative in Eastern Europe, particularly in Romania, with a focus on a new strategic cooperation between trade unions, NGOs, social movements and citizens. The JSC Ro is being supported by one of the most important trade union confederations in Romania, the Democratic Trade Union Confederation in Romania (CSDR), affiliated to ETUC. Although the initial estimated participation indicated about 40 to 60 people, in the end the actual number of participants was 141, representing a broad spectrum of Romanian trade unions and associations.
As Petre Damo highlighted in a report of the meeting, the JSC Ro is free of political ties and is not meant to replace or compete with trade unions, NGOs or social movements; it is rather a joint initiative for cohesion, solidarity, and unity, both in terms of vision and action.
Immediate next tasks of the JSC Ro are:
The Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt (CADTM) hosted a meeting in the morning of September 29 entitled “For a European coordination of struggle against the debt and austerity plans !” which was attended by about 60 representatives of social movements, political foundations and political parties, most of them coming from Western and Northern Europe. transform was represented by Chantal Delmas. As the rise of the public debt in Europe is used as a pretext to strengthen the imposition of neoliberal austerity plans on society and make the lower classes pay for the debt, the aim of the meeting was to launch a cross-border European response to counter the offensive. What is at stake is social regression, rising unemployment, and a challenging of peoples’ fundamental rights.
Relying on its experience in countries of the South, particularly in Latin America, CADTM offers its expertise to Europe and countries of the North. It was agreed to propose an open preparatory meeting for a critical European conference on the debt and austerity plans, to be included in the agenda of the ESF coordination meeting on October 23 and 24.