The Future of Europe
During the referendum campaign, those of us on the left who wanted to remain, argued that the EU was far from being perfect and needed reform to make it better. This case was argued by, amongst others, Jeremy Corbyn, and it was frequently pointed out that we were not alone in this belief – that there were similarly minded parties and left-wing politicians throughout Europe who felt the same way, and with whom we could work together. One of these is Nicola Zingaretti who, since 2013 has been President of the Lazio Region in Italy (Centred on Rome and between Northern Ireland and Wales in size). Italian Regions are far more important politically than English regions and control many services and aspects of the regional economy. Since taking the region off the right-wing, Zingaretti has transformed its fortunes by introducing socialist policies, particularly in the area of Health. He has improved the lives of his people while, at the same time, helping and supporting refugees.
Two days ago, I came across an article written by Zingaretti in the aftermath of our referendum. Although he was writing for an Italian audience, I thought it was worth translating and sharing, to show fellow members what is possible, and what the EU may look like when we rejoin it in the future.
Now for a United States of Europe
By Nicola Zingaretti, President of the Lazio Region (Translated by Phil Whitney)
The choice of a majority of the citizens of the United Kingdom to abandon the European Union represents a dramatic blow to the model of democracy developed after the Second World War.
The reasons for this choice, when one looks beyond the dynamics of internal British politics, can be found, above all, in the dissatisfaction of of millions of people with the conditions in which they live, withe feeling that they are trapped and with the search for a scapegoat for which, this time, Europe has been chosen.
With its timidity, its fragility and, often, its inability to respond, the EU has buried its head in the sand.
It is paradoxical to note how, in the last twenty years, it has been above all the British leaders who, with their fears, have always impeded progressive moves towards the construction of a more united Europe capable of giving strong leadership on the world stage. It is the British who have always demanded and fought for a ‘minimum necessary Europe’ rather than a ‘maximum possible Europe’, betraying the ideals of the founding fathers of Europe.
The effect of the British decision will be to strengthen the position of populists, right-wingers and nationalists throughout Europe and possibly the world, who in irresponsible and illusory ways will try to exploit the problems and suggest that the process of union is the problem rather than a possible solution. They will provoke a large, populist movement that will feed off widespread social problems linked to economic weakness and disorientating social changes that have their initial impact on the more vulnerable parts of a frightened population who are the victims of globalisation and, in the absence of hope, full of anger. In the last few years, these populations have regularly been told that Europe is the problem, usually in an attempt to mask with hypocrisy the limitations of inadequate national politicians. Inadequate to a large degree because they have blinkered national viewpoints.
It’s easy to say, ‘we’re constructing a political Europe’. But the political aspects of the EU are fragile because the decision making mechanisms of the EU are democratically fragile. Why should citizens be prepared to delegate sovereignty to a decision making mechanism of which they know little? In the age of the internet, of speed and of the desire to participate but not to listen, the decision making mechanisms of the EU often seem distant and incomprensible. They are tollerated when they are seen as useful, but more often derided for their distant idealism or, alternatively for their eccessive bureauocracy and fastidiousness.
We need to provide a new stimulus to get the European project underway again – a relaunch based on a concept of sustainable development, with, above all, investment in public works to provide better sevices in critical areas such as , Health, Education and Transport. These should be key areas for any government and Italy is doing well to focuss on them.
But this is not only a task for governments. Alongside governments, citizens need to accept a new challenge based on an innovative vision of democratic mechanisms: not a defence of what we have now; not just a change of policies; we need to promote a complete change of direction, a new political landscape.
Faced by a dissatisfaction that becomes increasingly corrosive, we need to propose a project that can change and rebuild society. If we cannot do this, the destruction of the values we have fought for is certain.
The lack of clarity and sense of distance that many perceive today in the EU must change: who is taking what decision must be made clear to everyone. The faces that represent Europe cannot only be those of the Central Bankers, the leaders of the strongest countries and the Commissioners appointed by individual governments.
At this critical point in the history of the EU, European citizens must be made to feel that they belong, and they must be given the power to make choices.
As has been frequently mentioned recently, the priority of the founding fathers of Europe was not the banks, but peace and a gradual social and political integration.
We need, therefore, to show courage and, once again, for the democratic left, thsi courage must be rooted in the broadening of democratic participation and social inclusion. To dothis we need to build a great movement of the people in favour of the direct election of a President of a United States of Europe.
I want a movement called “Cambiamo” (“Let’s change’) formed of citizens defending their futures and their rights; I want to see elected representatives and civic leaders taking better care of their communities; I want to see businesses that thrive and that benefit their workers; I want to see strong Trade Unions promoting the development of each individual through their work; and I want to see effective non-governmental organisations all contributing to a European drive towards broader and stronger social rights.
We need to put aside fear and false nostalgia for the past and replace them with hope for the future based on positive changes.
This is the vision that we need to adopt to go forwards. Everyone of us who believes in it, must use their own position in society, whatever that may be, in whatever daily role they have, to share the message that the European dimension is the only credible one that allows us to, not only face up to global competition, but also to win the struggle against the inequality that is at the root of all the problems we now face.
Only a pluralist, democratic Europe based on rights and wide participation has a future. We need this belief to be shared by the people who will benefit from it, if it is to come true, and all of us on the left must make every effort to instil belief in them.
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Lead not Leave says Gordon Brown
"Gordon Brown today responds to fears that voters in Labour’s heartlands are switching to the Leave campaign by launching the party’s EU referendum fightback.
The former Prime Minister will make the case for his “lead, not leave” initiative as he unveils his five point proposal to create jobs, champion green energy and protect workers rights across Europe.
His plan includes Britain leading projects to create 500,000 jobs through the digital economy, the energy sector and finance.
Brown also advocates for further action against tax avoidance to tackle an estimated €1 trillion of European wealth held offshore in tax havens. He adds that Britain’s turn to hold the EU presidency next year provides an ideal opportunity to lead on energy and environment policy, cutting fuel bills and providing more renewable sources of power across the continent.
Brown also outlines the opportunities for Europe to protect vulnerable workers – such as those on zero-hour contracts – as well as a cross-border campaign for greater security.
Speaking in Leicester, he is expected to say his plan shows how Labour voters have the “most to gain” from a vote to Remain."
quote & photo from Labour List
Lead not Leave says Gordon Brown "Gordon Brown today responds to fears that voters in Labour’s heartlands are switching to the Leave campaign by launching the party’s EU referendum... Read more
STAY IN EUROPE TO CHANGE EUROPE
(BOOK THROUGH OUR FACEBOOK PAGE - there is a link on our home page)
STAY IN EUROPE TO CHANGE EUROPE (BOOK THROUGH OUR FACEBOOK PAGE - there is a link on our home page) Read more
I am becoming increasingly incensed by the untruths’ and rhetoric being put out during the referendum campaign that I feel the need to share with you my feelings on the matter.
Firstly, for those of you who have known me for a long period will know that back in the 1970’s, I and many others on the left did not support the European Economic Community. It was a capitalist club, had no accountability, very little democracy and had a very limited view around narrow protectionism for a small group of countries.
The world in those day’s was very different from today of course: globalization was unheard of, capitalism was still multinational rather than transnational; trade unions were still at the main table. We had had a period of progressive change in British life and the Employment Protection Act, Health and Safety at work act and Equal Pay Act had all been introduced by Labour Government’s.
Move on just a few years and we had had Thatcher, Reagan, Globalisation and so much more! We did however have elections to the European Parliament and the Social Chapter (although the UK had initially opted out of this). Transnationalism and Globalisation meant that no longer could an economy the size of ours stand-alone against the might of the USA, Japan and other aggressive totally market driven economies, let alone the big corporations. It was at that stage that I, like many others, rethought our position and began to support the EU. This developed into a deeper understanding of our shared history and heritage with the rest of Europe and above all else, the peace dividend.
I remember in local government at the time, Derbyshire County Council unilaterally adopting the social chapter as a statement of our views on workers’ rights. I also remember us not being able to access European development funds for the coal mining areas because the British Government did not want to jointly fund projects. I also remember the right wing of the Tory Party and it’s fellow travellers wanting to deny the European Parliament any real power, being totally opposed to progressive social change even in the somewhat minimal proposals set out in Maastricht.
Move on a little further in history and it was the right who opposed virtually every little piece of social improvement proposed by Europe: Working Time regulations, Equal pay for work of equal value, improved maternity rights, rights for people with disabilities, health and Safety regulations, the list goes on.
From 1997 a labour government introduced the minimum wage, entered the social chapter into British law, introduced the human rights act, enshrined the NHS charter into law and started to repair our relationships with mainland Europe. All of these things were attacked by the right wing and used as examples of why we should leave the EU. All of this whilst at a time when the racist right were arguing that immigration not from the EU but from the commonwealth and none English speaking people (short hand for none white) was bad for Britain.
Move on to today and tucked away on radio 4, John Redwood and friends, tell the world that a 'UK out of the EU would be able to continue the Thatcherite dream of having no trade barriers, accepting that this would in all probability mean the end of British manufacturing, it would mean the end of British Steel in the same way as Thatcher saw off British Coal'.
They believe in TTIP, even as they pretend that they support the NHS. Meanwhile the old Etonian Boris Johnson, his mate, Michael Gove, who wrote speeches for arch Thatcherite Michael Howard and commodity trader Nigel Farage, who is a lapsed member of the Tory Party (which he joined having heard Enoch Powell and Keith Joseph) suddenly become the workers friends. They do have a plan and it is incompatible with any left or centre left view of decency and social justice. Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s clothing.
All that good people need do for evil to win is nothing. Please dear friend use the next three weeks to ensure that all that I and you stand for is protected and that we have a decent future to hand over to our children and grandchildren.
Mark Young (Regional Coordinating Officer at the East Midlands branch of Unite.) and local member of Derbyshire Dales Labour.
Dear Friends I am becoming increasingly incensed by the untruths’ and rhetoric being put out during the referendum campaign that I feel the need to share with you my feelings...