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What in the future?

The issues on the question of the social rights, a point of view from unionists and leaders of organizations networks

Round table: moderator: Ingrid Schindler (ALI – Thüringen) and Kalle Kunnas (President of ENU)

The challenges social movements have to take in a Europe in the grip of liberal ideology

Summary of Annick Coupé's intervention (Union syndicale – G10 solidaires)

« The European construction is being carried out in the grip of the liberal ideology. For more than a quarter century, a Europe giving primacy to competition has been implemented. In the name of competition, public services have been attacked, fiscal and social dumping was set up as a doctrine, social rights for workers and unemployed were called into question. »

The year 2004 will constitute an extremely decisive new stage with the EU enlargement the 1st of May and the drafting of a « European Constitution », even if it has fallen behind and if the adoption should be postponed until the second half of the year 2004. Not only the draft Constitution does not make any break with the past but on the contrary, it adopts the principles of liberalism and integrates all liberal policies carried out by governments and the European Commission. In view of these facts, it is urgent to build European mobilizations.

Social movements are late as far as the European construction is concerned. This political arena is not sufficiently occupied, even if initiatives have taken place for several years: the 1997 demonstrations organized by European Marches in Amsterdam, in 1999 in Köln, in 2000 in Nice and in 2002 in Seville; the meetings in the frame of the European Social Forum (Florence in 2002 and Paris in 2003), we also have to keep in mind the initiatives of trade unions.

As we saw one more time in the debate of the conference, the same liberal logics apply in our different countries and produce the same damages: increase of unemployment, of precariousness and poverty, destruction of the solidarities, weakening of the social protection of workers and unemployed…The same objectives are set everywhere: labour cost cut and implementation of competition between workers. We must not forget in our reflection that women are particularly effected by these anti-social attacks. We must say out loud that we refuse the basis of the European construction and the current draft constitution which ratifies liberalism, competition and market as the foundations of Europe.

We must carry the demand of high level fundamental rights and the indivisibility of these rights, social, economic, political rights must go hand in hand with the notion of residence citizenship. We cannot accept the fact that there are rights on different levels and the citizens from countries coming in EU do not have the same rights as those living in the member states.

We must build long-lasting links with the social movements of the new member states to make their mobilizations known, for they pursue actions which we can see in our debate. The next ESF in London must enable us to tighten bonds, in the continuation of what has been done in Florence and Paris.

The 1st of May 2004, date of the enlargement, must be an opportunity to take positions and to have mobilizations which affirm the necessity of social rights in the 25 member Europe. To For an East – West solidarity of the social movements take symbolic initiatives in the new members' borders might give us a chance to claim this demand.

We want the development of a Europe which helps economic, social, and political rights harmonization from the top: a right to quality jobs with a decent wage, the guarantee of an income support and a pension for decent living conditions, the right to social security with a guarantee of an equal access to healthcare, extension and consolidation of public services and of tools for solidarity. The whole involves at first the subordination of the company law and competition law to the respect of the fundamental rights.

Organizations of unemployed, trade unions and movements of citizens, we need to build together strong European mobilizations to lay the Europe of rights down, against the Europe of profits.