The economic crisis has been strangling the whole of Europe for six
years now. While the causes of the crisis are by now generally known, Europeans
(their leaders, to be sure, but also public opinion, to be honest) must accept
their share of responsibility for aggravating it. They have tolerated growing
inequalities between the various regions of the EU as if they were a matter of
course; they have in particular allowed a cleavage to develop between “core
countries” and “the periphery”, and, even as they have overlooked the
structural conditions that deepened such a cleavage, they have reinforced it
through a barrage of readymade stereotypes opposing the hardworking “virtuous” to
the freewheeling PIIGS. On top of that, they have refused to develop
“communitarian” economic policies and have admitted the only option of
austerity in individual countries, thus depressing the economy, fraying the
social texture, compounding the inequalities between and within the European
countries, and jeopardizing the future of the European social model.
We – a coalition of pro-European, federalist, environmentalist, civil-society, trade-union associations, together with mayors of important towns and personalities of the world of culture – think on the contrary the EU needs “communitarian” economic policies meeting the needs “from below” in European societies, in particular a New Deal to stimulate the economy and create employment at European level. We propose a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) for a European Special Plan for sustainable development and employment. Its core objectives are the implementation of a public investment plan for the production and the financing of European public goods (renewable energy, research and innovation, infrastructural networks, ecological agriculture, protection of the environment and cultural heritage, etc.), the development of knowledge society and the creation of new jobs, especially for young people. Such a Plan will be financed by increasing the own resources of the European budget through a financial transactions tax to penalize financial speculation, a carbon tax to fight climate change and promote the transition to renewable energy, and Euro-bonds, especially Euro project bonds. In this way the Plan aims to allocate about €130 billion a year to its objectives, totalling about €400 billion over three years.
Our ECI has so far found the support of other associations (for example, the international European Movement), politicians (among them the Socialist Martin Schulz, the Liberal Guy Verhofstadt, the Green Ska Keller, and the “European Leftist” Alexis Tsipras, all of them candidates for President of the European Commission) – for a list of our supporters see http://www.newdeal4europe.eu/en/supporters, in particular consider the Manifesto for a European Plan for Sustainable Development and Employment. As can be seen, this ECI is supported by people of different political backgrounds. It is not a plan that is liable to be divisive in itself, but it does imply making political choices: rejecting a competitive approach to European problems which only means race to the bottom, acknowledging the close-knit and interdependent relationships between European countries, defending and relaunching Keynesianism as well as the European social model on a wider scale as a precious element of the European experience.
Now we are in the process of collecting one million signatures of EU citizens who are nationals of at least seven countries, as required by the ECI regulations. So we need the support of all those who think that only a collective vision and effort oriented to the public dimension, the common goods, in a communal European framework, can get Europe through the crisis. You can sign for this ECI online on www.newdeal4europe.eu.