European Left Faces the Challenges of the EURO

Paris, 15 January 1999

Robert Hue (French Communist Party) on the EURO

At the meeting of progressive Europeans an appeal has been made to
« anchor Europe at the left »

For a Reorientation of European Integration Policies

L'Humanité, Saturday 16 January 1999

Translated by Klaus Hagendorf

The political climate is beginning to change in Europe. The myth of triumphant capitalism is vanishing. Our century ends with dangers but also with the strong endeavour to change our societies and the world. Equal opportunities for men and women, democracy and citizenship, personal rights and especially anti-racism, respect of nature and sustainable development, peaceful, just and solidary international relations ... all these are values which gain importance in our countries especially amongst the youth.

The disastrous effects of the global financial crisis on the peoples of the « emerging countries » have revealed to the public the incapacity of this neo-liberal system to respond to the needs of humanity. Even more the logic which is governing institutions like the International Monetary Fund or the accords like MAI are more and more rejected. Also it is still commonly heard that the arrogance - economical, political and military - of the United States on the international scene is condemned as well as the egoism of their leaders confronted with the tremendous challenges of the world. Finally the contrast between enormous military expenditures and the continuing reduction of development aid give rise to justified objections.

This regained critical spirit and the will to change are expressed especially by the actors of the social movement - faced with the actual European integration policies based upon the logic of Maastricht and the economic monetary union. It is manifested in the social sphere confronted with a neo-liberal and monetarist orientation which has generated almost 20 million unemployed and more than 50 million poor. It is manifested in the sphere of democracy against the systematic separation of the decision centres from the citizens. It is manifested in the sphere of culture today subjugated by the logic of the market. It is manifested in the sphere of security of the continent today exclusively perceived under the angle of the military. The conditions therefore exist for a realisation of a profound transformation of the actual European integration policies.

It is this spirit - observing the different situations which characterize our countries respectively and the diversity of approaches which exist amongst our parties - that we formulate our general common objectives for which we are willing to act within the European Union for most of us and from outside of it for some. The progressive reorientation of European integration is a perspective which concerns the whole continent.

Together we want to work for a social and ecological Europe, a democratic Europe of solidarity and peace.

A SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL EUROPE has to set a clear priority in favour of employment for education for all and about all and for a stable non productivistic growth respecting systematically the equality of men and women and respecting the different ways of life and natural equilibrium. What the changes of economic and monetary policies are concerned, as the renegociation of the pact of stability to achieve a policy of growth and employment breaking with the neo-liberal dogmas and observing the unity of economic and social development; the revision of the mission of the Central European Bank, a general tax on capital movements (Tobin tax); the cooperation of the public services and their enforcement opposed to the actual tendency towards privatisation, measures supporting the substantial reduction of the working hours without reduction of earnings and with the creation of solid employment, harmonisation towards the maximum of social standards, the choice of sustainable growth based upon the promotion and not reduction of public expenditure for labour and social works as well as the criteria of the utilisation of European aid funds for regions are in accordance with these new priorities. The experience of the global financial crisis emphasises spectacularly the need to use money in a different way, less for financial speculation and more for human resources and sustainable development.

A DEMOCRATIC EUROPE constitutes a central objective of our European project. It must manifest itself in particular by a systematic narrowing of the centres of decision of the citizens just up to their place of work. This poses the question of the necessary recovery of political and public intervention in the economy - at the level of governments and parliaments - facing the exorbitant powers of the European Central Bank. More generally in our opinion earnings of the citizens must have a qualitatively new place in the process of consideration and realisation of community decisions; the gain of new rights of information, of consultation, of intervention, of assessment and of control is according to us at the top of the agenda. In the same spirit proportional representation concerning European elections appears to us the most appropriate because close to the citizens, men and women.

A EUROPE OF SOLIDARITY AND PEACE must manifest itself with a vision of mutual assistance and not of competition, of cooperation and not of 'economic warfare', of disarmament and not of militarisation of the continent. Furthermore within the Union the exchanges of humans deserve to be massively stimulated in this spirit, and racism, xenophobia, nationalism like all forms of intolerance need to be rejected. We assess in this respect 'the spirit of Schengen'. We demand a profound revision of this accord as well as an improvement of anti-racist legislation. In addition it is not acceptable that the inequalities of development between regions especially in the South of Europe increase instead of diminish.

An ethic of solidarity and peace has to manifest itself in relations of the Union with its external partners. We want that the enlargement towards the Countries of Central Europe and the Orient as well as Cyprus succeed, opposing the neo-liberal approach in this respect and respecting the freely expressed desires of the peoples concerned. Overall it is the organisation of the whole of the continent which has to be faced. We estimate that the end of the cold war requires the overcoming of NATO in favour of a renovation of the OSCE as a regional accord of the United Nations. In any case we pronounce to respect the tradition of neutrality and of non-alignment of certain European countries. Also the relations Europe-South represent a major fact for the evolution of international relations. We demand a qualitative improvement of the Lomé-agreement (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific) and the process of Barcelona of European-Mediterranean cooperation. And we demand the annulment of debts of the developing countries.

We demand as well a qualitative revision of the actually applied concepts of public institutions of the community concerning international economic relations (International Chamber of Commerce, Multilateral Agreement on Investment, new transatlantic markets). Finally we demand an active engagement of the Union and their member states to apply effectively the accepted guide-lines of the international community at the summits of Rio and Kyoto (environment, development) of Copenhagen (social development) of Beijing (support for women) and the other conferences of UNO.

Such a progressive reorientation of the European integration appears to us to respond to the expectations of the majority of our people as well as to the hopes of many peoples of the world. To take part in these changes we have the will to work actively for the emergence of a peaceful world.

The present appeal constitutes a new enlargement of positive collective work experiences in different instances which have all enriched the activity and impact of the United Green Left Nordic Group of the European Parliament. We have the intention to continue and to widen this cooperation at the coming elections next June. Our ambition is clear: definition of our efforts to contribute to anchor Europe at the left.

Paris, 15 January 1999

The appeal is signed by:

· Germany: Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS)
· Austria: Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ)
· Belgium: Communist party (PCB) Section Beyne-Heusay
· Cyprus: Progressive Party of Workers (AKEL)
· Spain: United Left (IU)
· Catalonia: Initiative - the Greens (I-Greens)
· France: French Communist Party (PCF)
· Greece: Coalition of the Left and Progressive (Synaspismos)
· Italy: Partido della Rifondazione Comunista(PRC)
· Netherlands: Socialist Party (SP)
· Portugal: Portuguese Communist Party (PCP)
· Sweden: Left Party (Vänsterpartiet)
· Switzerland: Swiss Labour Party (PST)

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