2014 An urgent call – conference
The “Alliances to fight poverty” organised a conference to present their “Call for a social, democratic and sustainable Europe”. More than 80 guests listened to prof Richard Wilkinson, 6 social organisations, 4 European Political parties. They had also the task to vote for our proposals.
Richard Wilkinson introduced the conference with a broad presentation where he explored the relation between poverty and inequality. He started from the statement of Sahlin M. who has said: … above all poverty is a relation between people. Poverty is a social status. At such it is an invention of civilization. It has grown with civilization … as an invidious distinction between classes.” Inequality is driven by status competition. Status competition feeds consumerism and is a obstacle for a more sustainable society. We need thus a “broader transformation of our society”. He concluded his presentation with some statements:
- the rich world has reached the end of the real benefits of economic growth;
- but sustainability is not a belt-tightening sacrifice; instead it involves raising the real Quality of Life;
- we can tackle the social deficit and improve the real QoL by increasing equality;
- we should increase equality by extending democracy into economic sphere.
- transform social relations
- transform experience of work
- raise the real QoL by meeting social needs
- achieve Sustainability
His presentation you will find here: Presentation Richard Wilkinson
You can follow his presentation on vido here: video
After this presentation there was a short presentation of the Call and then we had a panel discussion (mainly in English) with Claire Roumet, vice-president of Social Platform; Peter Kelly, vice-president of EAPN;
Ronald Janssen, advisor economic governance of ETUC; Mahmood Messkoub and Jeremy Leaman of Euromemogroup; Pierre Defraigne, executive director of Madariaga Foundation-College of Europe;
and Patrick De Bucquois, president of Social Services Europe, moderated by Jamie Burton, president of Just fair, UK.
They were asked to choose their top 3 proposals from our Call.
Pierre Defraigne asked for a reinvention of full employment. Peter Kelly has choosen al the measures who tackle the income inequality. Claire Roumet stressed the necessary revitalisation of European democracy by an enlarged civil and social dialogue. Ronald Janssen asked an investment of the rich European countries in the countries with a severe deficit. Patrick De Bucquois choosed the proposals on the human rights and social rights. Mahmood Messkoob asked for a market with a social soul. Jeremy Leaman stressed the importance of the reduction of market inequalities by fair taxation. A debate with the public enlarged the vision of a social Europe.
We started the afternoon with a small speakerscorner with Klaus Sambor from Basic Income Initiative, Luigi Leonori from SMES, Paul Murphy, MEP from Ireland and Maria Domingos from EAPN Portugal.
The audience had the opportunity to choose between all our proposals. On this picture you see the chosen proposals. Social rights, decent work, an enriched definition of human well-being, social investment, fair taxation in all its forms, a sustainable development and an enhanced social and civil dialogue. With these and other proposals we have invited the MEP’s to choose their top 3 proposals.
As a last we had a panel discussion (in French and English) with Elmar Brok (EPP, GER), Denis Janquin (PES), Karima Delli (Greens/EFA), Gabriele Zimmer (GUE, GER) and moderated by Hajo Friedrich, journalist. They were also asked to choose among the proposals
Gabriele Zimmer choosed the proposals on social rights, decent work and the right to have a decent home. Elmar Brok choosed also the social rights proposal, the enhanced social dialogue and for a rich competitiveness to obtain a sustainable society. Karima Delli has choosen for the proposals on a decent home and a policy on homelesness, decnt work, and fair redistribution. Denis Janquin asked fair taxation, decent work and decent income, and a policy on homelesness
The objective of the conference was to present our Call, to look for support for our proposals. As Claire Roumet said, there is a great similarity between this Call and the memorandum of the Spring Alliance. This means for her that these proposals haven’t been built in Brussels ivory towers, but has been developed bottom-up there where people experiencing poverty and there where workers fight for decent work. For Claire this means that we can build together a new vision, a picture of a better Europe.
The conference made it clear that there is a large support for a social, democratic and sustainable Europe. This large support has to be translated into the European policy. Therefore we need the support of all to transform our society.