Minutes of the European co-ordination meeting held in Brussels on November 30th 1996This was an essentially technical meeting; important decisions were referred forward to the European Hearings which will now be held on 22-23 February 1997.
Information on the various European networks, and the situation in each country.
Discussion on the agenda for the European Hearings: It was decided to change the date (originally 1-2 February) to 22-23 February, at the request of the British and Spanish participants (a number of congresses and trade union meetings are planned for the first weekend in February). A technical co-ordination meeting will be held in Brussels on Saturday February 1st.
Discussion on the marches, the routes and the type of march planned. The discussion on this subject was introduced by a complementary document produced by the European secretariat. Ideas on the routes will be presented in a later document, together with the agenda for the European Hearings.
Discussion on the European secretariat. The general idea is to move as quickly as possible (ie from January-February) towards a genuinely European secretariat, with participation of all the countries which wish to do so. The presence of the Belgian and Dutch organisers is indispensable.
Presentations of networks
European Network of Unemployed (ENU)The last ENU conference, in Ireland, agreed to support the European March. At the conference, contacts were also made with an Austrian group, and with non-EU organisations (Hungary, Poland). The Dutch ENU network (one member of which represents the ENU secretariat) will co-operate with the march organisation, and the reception of the marchers in Amsterdam. For this, they will need to know which towns the marches will pass through.
Kairos EuropeThis is a network of 25 movements in Europe which a re concerned with political and cultural questions. Most of the network emerged from the peace movements of the 1980s. During their last meeting, in Ireland, the network expressed considerable interest in being fully informed about the marches and other Dutch initiatives for June 1997. Kairos proposes to develop co-ordination activities with the march organisers, and stresses the role which the Helsinki Citizens Assembly, which is present in all European countries, can play.
JOC InterFollowing the Florence Appeal, the European Christian Forum has expressed interest in the marches, and wishes to be represented in the European secretariat.
Belgium:Groupe d'initiative Belge pour les Marches europeennes, Coordination Bruxelles Wallonie Flandres Sans-Abris (Homeless Co-ordinations), Mouvement de la Paix (Peace Movement), Kairos Europa
The Groupe d'initiative held its first meeting on November 4th, and decided to seek broader contacts, including the trade union federations. On December 12th, two working groups discussed the possible route of the marches (see below) and the title. This should be a positive expression. It is also important that participation in the marches be an individual initiative, rather than the simple expression of organisational decisions. There was a suggestion to prepare a »Marcher's Card«. They also discussed the relationship between the marches and other initiatives, so as to enable the establishment of the widest possible reception committees, and the reception of the marchers by the mayors of the towns they pass through.
Netherlands:Network for a Different Europe, SMZBW/ENU
A conference »For a Different Europe« was held on 19 October. This is a step towards the organisation of a counter-summit, larger than the reception of the marches, with workshops on ecology, democracy, etc. Participants offered to support and prepare the marches in the April-July period, with groups coming from all over the Netherlands, and including trade unions, unemployed groups, and individuals. There was a strong demand for precision about what we expect from the Dutch organisers, particularly in logistic and financial terms. Who will pay for the section from the Dutch border to Amsterdam? Questions were also raised concerning the organisation of the European secretariat.
The idea of a »Celtic« march (Ireland, Wales, Brittany) is gathering strength. local marches in Ireland will be received by the mayors of the towns they pass through. Participants expressed sharp criticism of the monetary union and its consequences, and enquired about the position of the European Trade Union Confederation. They asked for clarification on the February initiative. Will it be just a working meeting, or something more?
Britain:British Committee for the European Marches
A conference was held in Manchester on 26 October, with about 50 participants, including trades councils and unemployed groups. There were participants from London, Birmingham, South Wales but nothing from Scotland, not yet. Just contacts. There was unanimous support for the marches. Participants at the Brussels meeting raised tactical questions. It will be necessary to pay something to unemployed marchers, since by participating in the march they will loose their unemployment benefit payments. There will not just be unemployed marchers. We will see this more clearly in January.
Germany:ALSH ' WIR Cologne, Betriebsrat Babcok Montagegerätechnik, Komitee gegen Arbeitslosigkeit und Sozialabban, ÖTV Arbeitslosenausschuss, ÖTV Arbeitslosenausschuss Dortmund, PDS, SAV.
A meeting with unemployed organisations, left currents and parties was held on 31 October. The PDS gave its support. A secretariat was established for regional co-ordination. There was discussion on the programme, and the orientation of the marches, the rights of immigrants, links to Eastern Europe and the South, our attitude to monetary union, etc. The next meeting will be held on 19 January in Hannover. A conference to discuss and prepare the marches will be held in Mannheim on 15016 March. A meeting of left oppositionists in the DGB trade union federation will also be held. This will make it easier to win the support of local trade union bodies.
ADC wants to organise a march segment between La Chaux-de-Fonds (Jura), Laussane and Geneva. They are seeking wider contacts. Switzerland is not in the EU, but this is a march against unemployment, not about whether we are for or against the EU.
The CGT trade union confederation will participate in the marches. It considers the Florence appeal to be very weak, and would like to see an explicitly anti-capitalist and anti-Maastricht text. It is for the absolute autonomy of the marchers, and will be on the watch for any attempt to »capture« or take credit for the marches.
France:AEC (HCA-F), Comite des Sans-Logis, Chomeurs et Precaires de Paris, CNT-AIT Nord-Pas de Calais, Collectif national AC!, Coordination moins de 25 ans, Droit au Logement, Droits Devant!, Etats Generaux de Mouvement Social, Movement National des Chomeurs et Precaires, Organisation COmmuniste Libertaire, Precarite exclusion Jeunes 18-25 ans, SSIPPE-CNT Nord-Pas de Calais, SUD Cheminots, Secretariat des Marches Europeennes.
As for the organisation of the marches, France will be a host country for marchers coming from Spain and Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and, to some extent, Ireland and Great Britain. These marches will converge towards Belgium and Amsterdam.
European Hearings against Unemployment, Job Insecurity and Exclusion, Brussels, 22-23 February 1997
The Hearings will have three functions.
Invitations and observers
The proposal is to have a wide range of invitations and observers, going beyond the forces which will actually participate in the organisation of the marches.