From the TUC

Europe can be different: have your say

29 Mar 2014, by Guest in International

In recent years the left has been drawn into defending the status quo in Europe, largely against the backdrop of an onslaught from the rightwing.  While this has usually been done with admirable motives-defending against xenophobia and scapegoating more often than not- the left should never be drawn into small “c” conservatism thinking this will suffice against criticisms. It is time for a positive, democratic vision for Europe, one which offers hope and recognises the current problems faced in the EU.

With elections to the European Parliament in May this is a vital time for the future of the European Union and the UK’s relationship with it. A different Europe is vital to building a Good Society, as many of today’s most important issues such as rising inequality and environmental degradation simply cannot be addressed on a national level alone.

The draft publication of Europe can be different allows us to think about a different Europe. It puts forward policies that seek to change the system fundamentally and that promote both social justice and sustainability, seeing them as being tied together rather than somehow contradictory to one another. We hope this publication can start to flesh out an alternative that can be pursued collaboratively by people in different left, green, and regionalist political parties, as well as activists, trade unionists and others outside of party politics.

Key to any reform of Europe is reform of the banking sector.  The publication calls for the banking system to be reformed so that “banks serve local and regional economies, rather than… the international financial sector”, as well as for “green QE” whereby European central banks invest in green projects across the EU, creating millions of sustainable jobs.

Fundamental to the European project’s success also has to be a successful currency.  The problems faced with the euro have led to widespread disillusionment towards the entire project, and so numerous proposals are made to deal with this.  First there is a call to make the European Central Bank accountable to MEPs and remove its deflationary bias from its remit.  Second, there is a call to end the need for countries to sign up for massive austerity measures if they are in need of financial help, and for an orderly and negotiated way in which countries can leave the euro rather than the chaotic mechanisms in place at the moment.

Other proposals include an EU-wide minimum wage based on countries’ median income, ending a situation whereby many are forced to migrate from their home countries to find well paid work, as well as proposals for higher trade union membership and a ban on zero hour contracts.

This is just the start of a process however.  We need your help in providing the vision and policies that can offer a greater sense of security and safety regarding the sustainability of the economy, the environment, the future of employment, pensions, social security benefits, and international relations. To comment on this draft, post a comment at the Compass website.