In June, the European Commission opened the pilot phase of the upcoming European Political Foundations by issuing a public call for projects which have to be submitted to the Commission by September. Responding to the call of the E.C., Transform! and the European Left Party (EL) will submit a project proposal under the title “Left Actors and the European Social Model”.
The orientation underlying the proposal is the conviction that to cope with the new political challenges presented by the neoliberal restructuring of capitalist societies the left must come to terms with at least five aspects of the new reality:
a) the increasingly clearer globalisation of the social question and its objective link with the problem of ecology
b) the imposition of a crisis-ridden new worldwide type of capitalism with new structures and power relations;
c) the revolution in the world of work caused by new technologies, which makes new demands on the subjects, feminisation of the labour force, changes in the labour markets, social fragmentation, chronic mass unemployment as well as the growing precariousnesss of work and conditions of life;
d) the world-wide migratory flows that also effect the developed capitalist countries and lead to permanent social, political and cultural changes there;
e) the emergence of new social movements particularly involving the young generation and developing from the critique of globalisation. The new actors emerging from these movements are articulating new social demands, which offer challenges to traditional groups of the left.
In other words, we have to reach out to a newer, more integrated view of society, one that incorporates gender equality, democracy and the ecological dimension.
This entails a number of questions, e.g.: what are the main proposals of key left actors for dealing with the contradictions between the social and the ecological question, how are they related to the interests of concrete social subjects and what is the interplay between the national and the European level of politics.
The kind of institutional restructurings that are needed result from the demand for consistent gender equality in all social sectors, for social equality between citizens with or without immigrant background, for overcoming social exclusion, social splits and territorial disparities. In reaction to this challenge, what were the institutional changes in the social security systems that the different social states made, and what were the results? What political consequences in terms of labour, social and health policy result from society’s aging process and the opening up of borders to immigration.
In the first stages of research only a few of these questions will be selected as the basis of analysis.
Despite its financial and temporal limitation, the project is to be understood as a starting point of a complex long-term research on European social policies, which however is also intended to furnish practically useful results: