Intervento alla sessione di apertura del 5 meeting del Plan B network, Lisbona, 21-22 Ottobre.
First of all, my deep condolences to all Portuguese people, to all of you and the families who lost their dear ones and jobs because of the fires. We should find a way, in Italy as well, to provide material help.
We are meeting here, at the tenth anniversary of the “Lisbon Treaty”. This is the fifth Summit of the Plan B network. In march, we were in Rome, in the Campidoglio, focusing on the state of the Eu and the euro-zone after 60 years from the Treaty of Rome. We did not celebrate in Rome. We are not celebrating here. There are a lot of radical corrections to make. And nothing to celebrate for.
In the last seven months, many relevant political events occurred: the unquestionable un-cooperative, unilateral, isolationist, dangerous profile of the Us Presidency; mixed outcomes of the parliamentary or presidential elections in Netherlands, France, U.K., Germany, Austria; several terrostic attacks in France, Spain, Germany, U.K.; deepening of migration flows; recently, the painful wounds to democracy in Spain around the secessionist, unconstitutional, drive of the Generalitat of Catalonia.
In these dramatic hours, especially for our comrades of Podemos and for Ada Colau we could, from here, send a message of solidarity and support for their difficult position for dialogue.
Of course, I do not want to address all the isssues, but they should be the background to assess the phase in Eu and to establish a possible way forward.
I move from recalling the mainstream reading of the political events.
Especially after elections in The Netherlands and France, a sense of complacency came back among the Eu elites: despite the remarkable result of La France Insoumise, let me take this chance to congratulate once more our comrade and friend Jean Luc Mélenchon and the delegation here, the mainstream narrative was and is “we are on the right track”, “our agenda is working: populist and xenophobic forces can increase their votes because of the migration crisis, but remain at the margin, far away from the majority in Parliament and far away from the government”.
The migration crisis, according to this view, explains the popular support for populist and xenophobic forces. But this view is instrumental and misleading: La France Insoumise is not nationalist or xenophobic; AfD made the best performance in the Lander of east Germany where immigration rates are the lowest. Of course, as history teaches, immigrants or in general racial, religious, gender diversity are the easiest escape goats when economic and social suffering are acute.
This narrative has been repeated even after the election in Germany, despite the the two main parties forming the grand coalition lost, jointly, almost 14% of the votes (around 4 millions) and the strong performance of Alternative for Deutschland.
The words of Wolfgang Schauble with the Financial Times, summarising the balance of his long political tenure, are a perfect synthesis of this narrative: “I’m very happy we succeeded in making the euro more stable than many would have belivied possible. It wasn’t easy. There were some critical phases. At the moment we are in a good phase and I think that shows that we pursued adequate and successful policies”.
This is the mainstream narrative. Even Greece, after the tough Memorandum can distribute a fabulous social dividend for Christmas. The results of the Parliamentary election in Austria did not fit the wishful thinking of the establishment, so they are just ignored, considering the turn to the extreme right of the Popular Party and the success of the Freedom Party.
Against this background, we have to assess the main proposals on the table in the national capitals, in Bruxelles and in Frankfurt. We have to look at the official plans and to the unofficial ones, but perhaps even more relevant. The official plans are listed in the so called “Leaders’ Agenda” discussed yesterday in Bruxelles in the Council of Head of State and Government. The unofficial plan is described in the “non-paper” tabled by Wolfgang Schauble, the outgoing Minister of Finance of Germany. The former has the schedule. The latter has the contents.
In a nutshell: the agenda defines more integration with a selected group of countries, on the basis that Eu and the euro-zone are on the right track, and considering the political resistance of some members of the Eu against more integration and the delays of other members. It’s the so called “double speed” approach throughout “enhanced cooperations”.
For the euro-zone, the objectives of “more integration” are described in the “non-paper” presented by Germany in the last euro-group meeting: the transformation of the European Stabilty Mechanism in the European Monetary Fund for more control on the Fiscal policy of each country and for more and more effective tools for implementing the Fiscal Compact, including automatic sovereign debt restructuring and rating of sovereign debt in the balance sheets of the banks. The “non-paper” proposals are complemented by draft Directive issued for consultations by the Single Supervisory Mechanism for enlarged automatic funds to set aside in the balance sheets of the banks to guarantee possible NPLs. In this context, the project of partial mutualization of sovereign debt and risks and a budget for the euro-zone envisaged by President Macron just disappeared.
What should we do?
- Spread a fact-based narrative: the Eu and, in particular, the euro-zone are on the wrong track, as we write in the invitation letter to this meeting: divergencies are increasing among and within countries; the current Treaties, Directives and policy agenda are dramatically denying economonic, social and political rights and worsening conditions of people, working families and middle classes.
- Strengthen a counter-offensive for stopping any additional integration in the Eu and the euro-zone and any additional loss of national sovereignty. Along the established neo-liberal and mercantilist track, any step of additional integration is a step of additional social, economic and democratic regression. We need the opposite: the rivitalisation of democracy in the national State;
- launch a three-pronged, sincronized, multi-country campaign for:
- A) denying in the national Parliaments the ratification of Ceta;
- B) blocking the inclusion of the Fiscal Compact in the Lisbon Treaty;
- C) cancelling the “Posted workers” Directive.
The three initiatives described above can be practical, largely understadable pillars of the alternative route we are working on.
They can be shared by all the shading of the left, by trade unions, by a large spectrum of social, environmental and democratic movements.
They can advance our Plan A, i.e. the radical U-turn of the dominant agenda. Or they can boost people support for the alternative Plan B. Either way, they promote a pro-labour offensive, useful at the European and national levels.
Let’s work together, let’s fight together, comrades. We do not give up!