Tuesday, 21 April 2009
ECOSY Winter University 2009: Change for Europe!
Recently I attended the 4th European Community Of Socialist Youth (ECOSY) Winter University in the Party of European Socialists (PES) Headquarters and the European Parliament, Brussels.
The event was attended by more than 30 young socialists and social democrats from all over Europe, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, and Italy amongst others. The programme for the Winter University included various political seminars and themed discussions with a diverse range of panelists, including MEPs and NGO representatives.
Key priorities of the conference included tackling European and global inequality and the issue of global climate change.
On Tuesday we had a discussion with Anna Colombo MEP, Secretary General of the PES Group in the European Parliament. One of the many valuable points Anna made was that we, as social democrats, look at the creation of jobs as a value and not as a mean to tackle economic problems. Work must not be held as an end in itself and the principles of Decent Work, Decent Life must be secured.
On Wednesday we discussed with MEPs issues such as social security and the economical crisis, education and innovation, climate change and sustainable development, global governance and nuclear disarmament, integration and migration. On Thursday we discussed the development issues with Pia Locatelli MEP and Emma Ceery of Oxfam and closed with a debate on how to build a citizens Europe with Richard Corbett MEP.
Across Europe we socialists and social democrats want to ensure a better working environment for all workers in the EU, particularly marginalised workers. Economic development and prosperity has left many people behind and ECOSY, the youth section of the Party of European Socialists (PES), demands that the EU works towards a more equal and sustainable European model of development.
During the past year we, as ECOSY Young European Socialists, developed an election manifesto 'Change for Europe' for the forthcoming European Parliament elections.
The ECOSY manifesto demands include: Employment flexicurity not without social security; fight unemployment and under employed (particularly in young people); for full employment; increased job security; promotion of a knowledge-based economy; proper sustainable development and environmental protection; free access to education and life-long learning; more investment in research and development; better access to public services; improved youth exchanges; and better provision of information on EU policies for European citizens.
In particular I would like to see minimum standards of working conditions to be introduced in EU member states. This should include legal guarantee for social rights and protection, full rights for interim agency workers and treatment of internships as real jobs.
It is important that the ‘Decent Work, Decent Life’ agenda is promoted at EU level. The Lisbon strategy has an important external dimension and its social goals have to stand at the heart of Europe’s external policy. Official development aid needs be increased by 1% of GDP in order to achieve UN Millennium Development Goals and help alleviate global poverty levels.
There must be an end to exploitation and the creation of a more equal and sustainable Europe. This can only be done through the relaunching of the Social Europe Agenda.
This Winter University was a unique event because its programme included participation in a Global Progressive Forum conference on ‘The New Globalisation for Progressive Change’. Speakers at the conference included Bill Clinton, Howard Dean and Poul Nyrup Rasmussen (PES President). The event was attended by over 3000 progressives, trade union activists and NGO representatives from all over the world. I had the unique opportunity to take part in a PES interview that made up part of the below video production for the event.
Global Progressive forum 2009 from PES_Party of European Socialists on Vimeo.
During the various discussions throughout the week, one major issue was prominent: Europe needs new leadership - the current economic crisis can not be solved by those who created it. The same thinking that created these difficulties can not resolve them. Neo-liberals and conservatives want the marginalised, poor and unemployed to pay for the economic crisis created by them. This is unacceptable.
European inequality can only be tackled through social protection and an end to the neo-conservative political agenda across Europe that has only benefited the political and economic elite.
There must be social responses to the current economic crisis and to the rampant globalisation that has exacerbated global financial difficulties. The economic crisis must not become an excuse to dilute social principles. Social security systems must not be undermined and there must be strong safety nets for workers who lose their jobs.
That is why in June’s European elections it is vital that the PES is returned as the strongest group in the European Parliament. Only by supporting PES candidates such as Alban Maginness can we have positive Change for Europe. The PES and the SDLP want to create a New Social Europe that is people-centred and puts People First!”
 ECOSY is the youth group of the Party of European Socialists and the umbrella organisation for social democratic and socialist youth groups across Europe.