After many seminars and workshops organised by the Charter’s network in cooperation with other networks and organisations, an assembly was held in order to share the results of the discussions and to make progress in the analysis of European questions and in the development of platforms for combating EU principles and policies.
Eighty people took part, and many spoke, in the three-hour-long assembly which evaluated the work done and came up with future proposals. The Assembly was very useful in conveying what was discussed in the seminars and for exchanging ideas about how to proceed. During the ESF many seminars were dedicated to the Lisbon Treaty, the recent sentences of the European Court of Justice, the directive on the work week, workers’ social rights, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the financial crisis and to European citizenship and the democratic deficit of EU institutions, etc.
There was some concern about the how the Charter (now also translated into German) was diffused; its circulation was insufficient when it should have been available to everyone as a basic alternative document responding to the crisis provoked by the Irish No to the Lisbon Treaty, and also as a framework for the campaigns launched in Malmö.
The Charter is not a “Bible”, but a political and cultural proposal aiming at raising consciousness among European citizens of the need and possibility of another Europe. We all agree on the importance of developing strategies which go beyond nation-state borders and of confronting the anti- emocratic neoliberal policies of the governments and technocratic elites in Europe. The assembly discussed in depth the different issues and challenges that confront us: the democratic deficit and the new forms of governance, the role of the ECB and the financial crisis, NATO’s aggressive policy, the social and economic alternatives focused on the commons, social rights, workers rights, secularism and European citizenship by residence. On all these issues, we agreed to build alliances in order to develop platforms with other networks which themselves also represent a step forward in analysing and modifying the proposals of the Charter.
Specifically, the Assembly agreed on projecting and organising campaigns on:
l democratisation of European institutions, for example by giving more legislative power to the European Parliament and more power to the population, notably with more scope to propose laws and referendums (there is already a report on this by Emmanuelle and Nicola). The re-writing of article 48 of the Union Treaty can make it possible for the European Parliament to revise clauses of treaties; on this, the Assembly agreed to organise a campaign and a meeting in Brussels in March.
l the need to deepen our proposals on social rights and labour rights, such that we can struggle against the reactionary sentences of the European Court of Justice, which “harmonise” labour regulations by making them compatible with the lowest-level of extant regulations; we have to propose measures like a European minimum wage, a European social security, the right to life-long education and training, the right of workers to organise and contract at all levels on the basis of a democratic decision-making; job security in the face of casualisation, etc.; a European Social Charter proposed by the movements is, perhaps, the best way to campaign on these issues.
l In the midst of the current financial crisis, people are going to be even more aware of the necessity of placing the ECB under democratic control, in order to orient its policies toward the promotion of a social and sustainable economy, instead of safeguarding the interest of financial power; the Assembly agreed to propose to the other networks the development of a specific platform on this, and to call for a demonstration against the ECB in Frankfurt.
l Many interventions stressed the importance of continuing campaigns organised at the national level to support a secular state against the so-called “laicité positive” [positive secularism] supported by President Sarkozy and the Catholic hierarchy. We would like to repeat that we wish to organise all the initiatives and campaigns in cooperation with other networks, and we are interested in discussing the proposal of an alternative summit when the European Council meets in Brussels in March, which we believe is not the focus of all the European initiatives but is a useful occasion for relaunching the campaign for another Europe.
The network of the Charter will meet regularly at all EPAs (European Preparatory Assemblies of the ESF), and the Assembly in Malmö suggested a meeting in Paris on December 5, 2008, on the eve of the European demonstration against the French Presidency of the EU.
Chantal Delmas, Franco Russo
Please remember that you can find all relevant documents on the website www.europe4all.org