Unite for a social Europe

This appeal, the grandiosely named ‘Declaration of the assembly of actors and social movements’, was passed on November 16, the last day of the Paris European Social Forum.

This appeal, the grandiosely named ‘Declaration of the assembly of actors and social movements’, was passed on November 16, the last day of the Paris European Social Forum. The assembly of social movements is an invention of our Italian comrades to get round a World Social Forum ruling which prohibits all regional forums from making any firm decisions or organising joint actions. The global anti-war demonstrations on February 15 2003 were the successful result of last year’s assembly.

This year’s appeal calls for three European-wide days of action. On February 15 2004, trade unions in Italy and Germany have called for actions against privatisation and the dismantling of the welfare state across Europe. The date is not mentioned in the appeal, because some unions, for example in Britain, have not even heard about this proposal. So our appeal only mentions a “common day of action called by the social movements, most notably the European trade union movement”.

March 20, the first anniversary of the start of the war, will see international demonstrations against Iraq’s continuing occupation. However, the most controversial day of action for the left in Britain will undoubtedly be May 9, the day earmarked for the ratification of the constitution of the European Union. In Italy and France, this day of action is the most important of the three and comrades are planning a wide range of activities. A reflection maybe of the qualitatively higher level on which the class struggle is taking place in these countries. In Britain, the main groups on the left have not paid much attention to the question of Europe, which is “just not an issue in Britain”, according to Chris Nineham of the Socialist Workers Party.

The comrade is seriously wrong. Not only is the Conservative Party split on the issue. Tony Blair is considering delaying a referendum on the introduction of the euro until 2009 (News of the World November 23), because the country is also split - with a large majority against the euro. Europe is very much an issue in Britain. It is just that the SWP and many other economistic sects view such democratic questions of how we are ruled simply as an unwelcome diversion and are happy to leave it to Tony Blair to sort out.

May 9 will provide us with a great opportunity to put forward a democratic programme for the progressive unity of Europe, for a social Europe on our terms. A programme that rejects Giscard d’Estaing’s undemocratic, pro-capital EU constitution, and fights for sovereignty to reside in a democratically elected congress of Europe.

A programme that puts forward our own demands for a European-wide minimum wage, trade union rights and the defence of the welfare state A programme that welcomes the unity of Europe, because it unites the working classes across the continent.

We have to fight together in order to make it our Europe .

Declaration of the assembly of social movements

We come from the social movements and citizens of every region in Europe, from north to south and east to west. We have met before, in Florence and Porto Alegre. Now we gather in Paris for the second European Social Forum after a year of mobilisation against neoliberalism.

We have fought in many European countries against pension reforms, in defence of public services, against agricultural policies, for women’s rights, and against the far right, racism and xenophobia, as well as security policies. We demonstrated against the war in Iraq many times, and on February 15 in our millions. We are many, and our strength is our diversity.

A new European constitution is now proposed that ignores civil society. This constitution consecrates neoliberalism as the official doctrine of the EU. It makes competition the basis for European community law, and indeed for all human activity. The constitution completely ignores sustainable development, gives Nato a role in European foreign policy and defence, and pushes for the militarisation of the EU. It puts the market first, marginalises the social sphere, and accelerates the destruction of public services. This draft constitution does not meet our aspirations.

We are struggling for another Europe. Our mobilisations bring hope of a Europe where no one is afraid of losing their job. We are fighting for a viable agriculture controlled by the small farmers themselves, an agriculture that defends water, land and seeds as public assets. We want to open Europe to the world, with the right to asylum, free movement of people and citizenship for everyone in the country they live in. We want real equality between men and women. Our Europe will respect cultural diversity and the right of peoples to self-determination and allow all the different peoples of Europe to decide their future democratically.

We march for a Europe that refuses war, a continent of international solidarity and ecologically sustainable development. We fight to make human, social, economic, political and environmental rights more powerful than the rule of the market, the logic of profit and the domination of the third world by debt.

For all these reasons, we are calling on the peoples of Europe to mobilise against neoliberalism and war. We are fighting for the withdrawal of the occupying troops in Iraq and for the immediate restitution of sovereignty to the Iraqi people. We are fighting for the withdrawal from the territories occupied by Israel and for the cessation of the construction of the wall and its destruction. We support the Palestinian and Israeli movements that are fighting for a just and lasting peace. So we ask everyone to join the international day of action on March 20 called by the American anti-war movement.

To achieve a Europe based on the recognition of social, economic, cultural and ecological rights, we will take initiatives individually and collectively, men and women. Step by step, we are building a movement that involves all the peoples of Europe. In the coming year we will be part of every action organised by the social movements and citizen’s movements - especially the common day of action called by the social movements, most notably the European trade union movement. We call on social movements to bring this dynamic of mobilisation to a climax in a day of action for another Europe, for the rights of citizens and peoples, on May 9, the day the European constitution will be ratified.