Statement: There Are European Alternatives

Statement No.2 by the ILRS-conference, 27-29 September 2018, Utrecht, The Netherlands

There are alternatives: For a socially just, democratic and ecological Europe – against the neoliberal European mainstream!

As friends of the European ideas of a united Europe –

  • We recognise that the current European situation is influenced by serious democratic deficiencies …
  • We experience right-wing attacks on the European ideal and an increasingly violent nationalism in the member countries …
  • We witness the reduction of the social state ideal and the strong increase in class divisions. We experience increasing social injustice and hardly transparent differences of income distributions, both in Europe generally and in the individual member countries …
  • Like the majority of the European population, we suffer from the increasing economic problems and infrastructural deficiencies, on the one side booming economic sectors but on the other side unemployment for large population groups and decaying infrastructures …
  • We are shocked by the decline in human and workers’ rights. We notice that in the context of the brutal European policy on asylum and Europe’s isolation against immigration. We protest against political intentions of damming unions and their rights of participation …
  • Everywhere, we experience ecological problems and a threatened creation. The European ecological footprint is growing instead of shrinking. Land, water and air are still being polluted and exploited as resources. Still, nuclear power stations are being built and operated in member countries instead of implementing an ecological energy policy
  • … by that, Europe fails God’s commandments and Her/His humanist orientation!

Our 13 most important claims

  1. Europe and its members have to invest in the future as well as strengthen the common good and the public services: We demand an investment programme that fights the mass unemployment (especially amongst younger people) and enables economic and ecological-social uplift. We want an economy for the people and for the integrity of creation. Particularly, we are looking to strengthen the common good and the public services.
  2. Europe and its members have to take action against imminent financial crises: Limiting power of the banks and regulating financial markets. We want to fundamentally reconstruct Europe’s banking industry. The finance system does not need “casinos”. Investment banking as a business segment needs to be reduced. We aim at transforming private major banks to public property, controlled by democratic. Shadow banks have to be dissolved. Public borrowing of money needs to be liberated from the financial markets. The European Central Bank has to fund the countries directly, within a defined frame. We want to establish a financial Control Board and a public, European rating agency. We decline ratings by countries.
  3. Europe and its members have to fight the tax evasion: Tax wealth and venture. The assets of all European billionaires being 14 trillion euros exceed the national debt of all EU states combined which is 11 trillion euros. We propose to introduce a one-off fee on assets surpassing one million euros for a European social plan in all EU states. We demand a long needed financial transaction tax: Financial speculations have to be taxed with 0.1 percent each transaction. The tax dumping for businesses has to be terminated by an EU-wide minimum tax rate on corporate tax. We want to fight the tax evasion of billionaires by tying the tax liability to the nationality. Tax havens have to be eliminated.
  4. Europe and its members have to stand up for EU-wide minimum wages and fight the misuse of service contracts and temporary work. We demand social standards throughout Europe – for good work, equal labour rights and social security for the young and old, men and women.
  5. Europe and its members have to support and develop trade union rights to strengthen trade unions and contractual agreements. We demand a minimum regime for a European wages and social policy and for possibilities of transnational collective agreements and strike activities. We encourage the national unions to cooperate and build European unions.
  6. Europe and its members have to finally stop secretly negotiating so-called ‘free trade agreements’. We want trade agreements that are clearly oriented towards social and ecological premises, we especially decline antidemocratic and secret investment tribunals. We do not accept lawsuit against states filed by corporations. We demand: No ‘negative lists’ in trade agreements (what does not appear in there is automatically open to the ‘free market’) and no privatisation of public services. Let us prevent the states’ parliaments and the EU Parliament from being excluded and largely disempowered when signing these agreements.
  7. Europe and its members have to implement a European peace policy: War should – for the sake of the people and for God’s sake – not be a political tool! Therefore, end operations abroad! We turn away from the currently discussed armament and raise of military budgets in the member states and in the EU. The ILRS and its member organisations are part of the peace movement and fight against the militarisation of the European Union.  
  8. Europe and its members should ‘convert‘: therefore, we demand an EU-wide ban of defence exports! The EU members are, besides USA, the biggest arms exporter worldwide. We suggest a civilian conversion of defence suppliers.
  9. Europe and its members should not build a ‘Fortress Europe’! We demand open borders for people in need! We turn towards a reasonable immigration policy and a European asylum law that considers itself to be a human right. We want the isolation and monitoring systems FRONTEX and EUROSUR to be removed and the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea to be supported.
  10. Europe and its members need to become more democratic! We aim at strengthening the democracy and the parliaments. We want to support the European Parliament: It needs to be significantly supported in terms of democracy and its rights, especially towards the Commission. Through strengthened legislative rights, it will become a true European legislature (including Lobby Registry, transparent members, … ). We demand that the European Commission – in many respects delegitimised – will be voted by the European populations in the future, instead of being appointed by the governments.

We demand a European citizen convent to be established which, inter alia, decides upon the deepening of the EU, the autonomy of the member states and the further development of the EU.

We want to support the local referendums and make the populations’ voices heard through referendums and a reformed, easier European citizens’ initiative. Particularly, civil rights need to be protected more and a comprehensive data protection ensured.

  1. Europe and its members need to fight the economic lobbying! We demand the establishment of a binding and transparent lobby registry. We stand up for an employment ban for lobbyists from the economy in the EU Commission and from delegates of companies and lobby organisations.
  2. We, the Religious Socialists, get involved in Europe and in our countries for a pluralistic left movement – and we are not only oriented towards the parties, neither towards the social democracy nor other  left-wing parties. We criticise these parties where they do not believe in more democracy and do not follow socialist-oriented politics, but are succumbed to the ideology of neoliberalism. We seek a pluralistic Left without mutual paternalism and look for like-minded allies. We actively participate in social movements of the civil society and the trade unions!
  3. As Religious Socialists, we want to strengthen the collaboration between religions in Europe. We support the inter-faith and interdenominational ecumenical movement. We want the ILRS and its member organisations to actively support the idea of a European church congress (early 2020s) and to actively participate.

(Info on the forthcoming European Christian Convention: https://www.european-christian-convention.eu/en/

(written first by the German BRSD to support the discussion on Europe, then voted by the Congress as a statement No.2)