Now, as the confrontation over European construction is being relaunched, I would like to focus on the elaboration of the network fully in synchronisation with current events.
Initially this network was formed during a European meeting that took place in Paris after the victory of the No in the referendum on the European Constitutional Treaty. All participants thought that since the No had been victorious in France, this was the time to elaborate alternatity proposals to the Treaty. They decided to create a European network resembling the French No “collectifs”, including social movements, “altermondialistes”, trade-unionist, feminists and political actors.
The Charter elaborated today is the result of a two years working with the social movements belonging to the ESF and the political parties that wanted to participate. Let us name some of them: from Italy Fiom, ARCI, CGIL, Transform! Italy, the Italian Network for the Charter, Partito della Rifondazione Comunista; from Greece, the Social Forum, the Nikos Poulantzas Institute, Synaspismos; from France, SUD, FSU, Solidaires, the PRS, No VOX, COPERNIC, ATTAC, PCF; from the Basque country, Askapena; and members from Hungarian, Romanian and Czech social forums; European networks such as IFE, the European Marches, NO VOX, ATTAC, TRANSFORM!, the European Left Party, Endyl.
Among the difficulties that are present is the fact that many partners confused the European Union with Europe.
Clarity had to be achieved concerning the Europe we wanted to construct, in order to give substance to our will not to participate in a neoliberal Europe.
One of the major challenges to the Network has been the construction of common alternatives to Europe, considering this great diversity of movements but also of countries (of Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Turkey, each of them having a different the concept of Europe).
We still have not found agreement on several issues:
The secularism of the state and the school system: Is secularism a principle or a means to assure freedom of thoughts? This is a principle not recognised in some countries like Germany. It is the object of a battle in Turkey for liberty. Should we stick to the existing texts or use other words that are understood by all and which reflect the complexity of the situations? Is it a principle essential to freedom of conscience?
Political Europe: For a democratic Europe must we focus on general principles, or deepen the debate on the institutions needed by a democratic Europe? Should we opt for a federal Europe, a Europe of the states, a Europe of the peoples or for new institutions guaranteeing a democratic society with an important place given to direct democracy?
The question of the national minorities: There is a consensus about the freedom of expression for minorities, but on whether one should be in favour only of a general right of self-determination of national minorities, up to and including a totally autonomous political organisation within the state itself, or also include modification of national boarders, no censenus could so far be reached. The example of Yugoslavia and its dismemberment, has shown that a complete autonomy of minorities can be detrimental to liberty and to human emancipation.
These disagreements may look like obstacles but that they are also a strength, since they are the result of vigorous discussions which have strengthened our resolve to continue with the process of the Charter.
This Charter is a political tool that must enable the debate to reach the largest number of participants. This popularisation of the debate has already begun in Italy, but it remains to be developed in the other countries.
The Charter is a progressive and permanent process, and it is also a tool for struggle.
This is a consensual text, and all the actors are conscious of what is still to be debated. The dissent is public. The necessity to have a text that is an alternative to ultraliberal Europe is recognised by all.
This text is certainly insufficient from the viewpoint of the institutions, but also from the viewpoint of the economical measures to adopt for Europe to become truly more social, more united and more democratic.
The French experiment in which the No collectives elaborated a Charter for an Alternative Europe was later used as a basis for the elaboration of a program for a united anti-liberal candidacy in the presidential election. The selection of a candidate proved to be a failure, but it remains true that the anti-liberal forces had come to an agreement on programmatic content.
Only a few days before the approval of “a new mini-treaty” by the European Council on October 18 and 19, a meeting on the Charter will take place on September 20 at the European Parliament in Brussels, with members of parliament and delegates coming from all over Europe.