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Lisbon has been the stage of unprecedented outcome of an election. A huge consensus from the left wing leaded by the PS – Socialist Party in Portugal – led to a parliamentary agreement that changed the shift of right wing policy and austerity measures that were wrecking the public response and the public services. The economy fought back with this lef wing coalition and its growing near the 3 points and the government solution that everyone considered dead since the beginning is now stronger than ever and giving socialist and democratic solutions to the country, recovering the wounded public sector and giving jobs and fair incomes to workers and families. This week the Prime-Minister António Costa gave an interview to a national newspaper, and proposed a national consensus between parties from left and right (democratically elected and behaved) especially the biggest party from the centre right to join Costa’s Government in a National consensus project to decide the strategic plan for structural investments from 2021 to 2017. Although there is still an huge gap between the two parties this is an example of behaviour that will put S&D and European Democratic Parties in the front row of political decisions. Bring democratic players TOGETHER in order to avoid that structural investments, that will became the main pillars of the countries economic response, stay in the hand of changing powers or wills in each election or period of political challenge. TOGETHER proposing European funds being discussed and decided by large majorities make us more Socialists and assure that we separate public (national and European) interests from erratic political power, or passing by private sector interests.

1 day, 18 hours ago in EU Cohesion Policy
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Cohesion policy has a unique role in reducing inequalities. As one of the European Union’s main investment policies, it has a tremendous potential to create new market pulls, send the right signals to investors and promote inclusive growth. On the other hand, climate change is one of the major challenges of the 21st Century and the EU needs to demonstrate it can lead by doing in the global climate agenda, especially when former strategic partners like the US have relinquished their leadership role. Therefore, the EU needs to make sure its cohesion policy is directed to preparing regions and cities in Europe for a just transition to a low-carbon economy. Cohesion policy needs to provide a way out for those workers currently employed in high-carbon activities such as coal mining or energy-intensive industries. Cohesion policy has the potential and the instruments to finance early retirement for senior workers and retraining for the junior ones. It also has a robust financial backing to invest in low-carbon infrastructure such as charging stations for EVs and electrified highways. Also, this infrastructure needs to be resilient to the effects of climate change, ensuring jobs and prosperity for workers even in adverse conditions. For example, workers at ports deserve a safe working environment in the event of sea level rise and farmers deserve fair and affordable insurances against losing their livelihood to extreme climate-related events. Cohesion policy is therefore an essential instrument to build a new Europe, one that protects its workers and prepares them for a low-carbon future. European Socialists have worker rights and reducing inequality at their core and therefore European Socialists are best positioned to turn the EU’s Cohesion Policy into the best instrument to ensure a Just Transition for European workers, regions and cities.

1 week, 2 days ago in EU Cohesion Policy
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Only way for European socialists to catch up with time and stay ahead of things, would be to combine so called libertarian economy with “small government” and establish social security paid through either negative tax or basic income.   Libertarian economy is something we all know, even if many don’t know it by name. It is the idea of market and economic relations,which are completely liberated from governments planning and regulation, with government stepping in only to prevent threats to national security(if state is conservative) or environmental disaster (if state is progressive).   For a past 25 years this idea dominated economic thinking, was claimed by conservative part of political spectre, was never truly implemented to the max, but was nevertheless dominant across the planet, from New Zealand to Sweden.   Many traditional socialists condemned the idea on numerous occasions, but were unable to stop the pover of profit disregard; even 2008 crisis didn’t help .   Free market economy generates incredible wealth and prosperity; in fact its capacity of satisfying the demand, and hence-populations needs is unprecedented in human history. It is especially important to mention that the prosperity happened disregard political regime in the countries who tried free market, and especially considering the repetitious collapse of any attempt to build state supported nationalized economy to satisfy peoples needs; would it be hard core communist planning, or state run agencies in a free countries.   As socialists we must admit, however that march of free market libertarian economy also caused incredible, and unfair inequality, return of brutal zero-chance poverty and eventual suffering. Even a brief unbiased look allows to see that core of the problem is not luck of regulation or state planning, problem is purely with distribution of wealth… So called trickle down economy, idea that rich people would invest and spend money, if released from tax burden, works well with millionaires who need to re-invest to keep themselves rich. Or, in worse case scenario,who simply buy houses, limousines, jewelry for lovers, designer closes-eventually outraging public opinion, but giving jobs for thousands if not millions of designers, car manufacturers, craftsman or textile workers.   It does not work with billionaire though, with notorious “1%”. At this level money looses its pover as a tool of purchase and reward: for people who have that much capital the wealth is often a matter of sport-like a fun competition, etching ones personal pride to be at the top of Forbes list. So, eventually, big portion of wealth is simply sitting somewhere at saving accounts, un-invested and not spent.   Its our job, as social democrats, to ensure the fair and acceptable way of wealth redistribution: so while billionaire upper class would compete for a place in “Top 10 of rich peoples” rating, starving family in Greece or homeless teen in Paris would not feel like they are abandoned by society. It can go either through tax, or through government bonds or other borrowing, and ensure that it would go through proper social contract, without leaving both capital owners and welfare recipients frustrated.   It is worth mentioning, that in the situation when traditional job market and employer-worker relations are dying under pressure of outsourcing and automatisation, resurrection of small businesses, individual enterprise, gig economy, service based jobs is inevitable. So our focus should be not with collecting social security benefits from the meting iceberg of labor market, but establishing fair and efficient system of personal income tax.   Getting back to libertarian roots of my idea – I would propose to move away from the progressive tax rate, when percentage of tax was depended on income, and to tax whole population, everyone who earns income above welfare limit (and all active entities) . To set one, single, same rate, would it be 10, 20 or 25 percent. Rate will depend on who is in pover of course This way we can move away from truly Babylonian system of tax reboots, tax heavens, tax shopping and debates about which social groups contributes more to economy. From something which even most accountants fail to understand.   Should the same, universal tax rate apply not only to all individuals in the state, but also to all EU member states? Isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but in a Dream Europe-may be.   It is worth mentioning that in the left circles, there is a belief that once collected, tax will and shell be spent for a good cause in any developed society.   The reality, however, is far less optimistic..   Currently half of budget in most developed countries is spent on wars, and another half on corporate subsidies or huge Social Security bureaucracy, who is supposed to supervise distribution of social aid, and punish those who breach the rules (say – someone painted neighbors house for a fee without declaring). And only scraps go to those in need, which does not help to solve poverty.   That’s why the idea of “small government” is vital; system which would be covering the needs of people without often grotesque planning and research-either through basic income, or preferably, through negative tax, providing tax refund to anyone who declares income below certain welfare line. The Dutch system of “housing subsidies”, and “health insurance subsides” , paid directly by tax office, which is existing for decade already, and works as a clock, can be used as wider model of such tax refund welfare.   But no real equality in Europe would be possible unless there would be income and social security equality among members of different member states. it is high time to establish pan European minimal income and social security threshold so the welfare and prosperity of EU citizens would not be depended on what passport individual holds. Situation when Romanian national has to work extra hours to earn 600 Euro , while welfare recipient in Northern Europe receives twice as much as social aid is an economic and social cancer which might rot out whole thing if not dealt with in due time…   Chinese say that thousand miles way starts with a small step, so even one step this direction will be a good start.   Nicholas Gabrichidze

The time has come to save Europe, the planet, humanity. This can only be done through a new, courageous democratic process. Indeed, while we tend to reduce democracy to a mere electoral procedure, also an important one, Europe and the rest of the world have totally forgotten what it means to be a community, to search the truth together and to foster a full human development. Democracy has been reduced to the choice of the best political, cultural or consumerist product to be bought by atoms called citizens. Therefore, community is a word that can be manipulated by European populists in order to get consensus; the truth is something decided only by tribunals, or imposed with violence in other parts of the world; and growth is considered only as the annual change in the GDP, without any reference to happiness, relations, sense. We lack a strong democracy, as something more than a merely electoral procedure, exactly at a time when the use of reason, together with overcoming one’s egoic identifications, is the only hope to deal with issues such as climate change. The tragedy of two world wars and of millions of victims was followed in our continent by an ambitious, brave idea such as the European project. But that tragedy provided also a chance to philosophers such as Hannah Arendt to describe the risks of mass society, or to the Frankfurt School to denounce the violence arising from the use of human reason only as an instrument to pursue an aim. The identity problem of Europe is the identity problem of democracy. It is a philosophical, and an existential matter. Europe was the place that developed a sense of tolerance, after centuries of wars, and it did so through dialogue, universities, newspapers, coffee houses, and, of course, parliaments, towns, families, personal relations, faiths, religions, atheists. The dream of Europe was the result of the suffering of nations, meaning of mothers, father, sons, daughters. Therefore, something very concrete. The lack of wars, for more than 70 years, has been an outstanding and historic achievement for Europe. However, the increasing polarisation of politics, for instance in the United States, the rise of populism and racism, the inability to act faster against climate change, are signs that, together with wars, also the sense of community, or at least of an ethic dimension of life seems to have been lost. The philosophical problem of democracy is the inability of societies to become communities, to create what Habermas calls a public sphere, in order to decide on what is right and meaningful for us as humans. Most of our decisions are economic ones and, while they are very important, they are based on assumptions that could at least be questioned by a rational, autonomous human being. For instance, some of these questions that could be asked are the following: is technology really more important than humanities for the European future? The fact that infertility has strongly risen among Western males is only a medical, scientific issue? Should European youngsters care only about getting a job or also about forming and expressing their identities through work, in order to avoid becoming what Hannah Arendt called “animal laborans”? Europe can only be a free, deep community if its States become so. And this requires what, in my book “Exchanging Autonomy” I defined as functional autonomy: we act on the basis of some values, instead of believing in some values just because they are needed to convince ourselves of what we do to survive. And democracy and Europe require also an existential change. A change thanks to which the inclusion of the other is not only a political and philosophical option, but the natural outcome of feeling whole with humanity, the environment, the planet, the universe. Until we overcome the tendency to consider as an enemy whoever is different from us, just because we identify ourselves in some traditions, or ideas, or nations, or parties, the philosophical idea of democracy is going to remain an abstract one. This is a time when climate change, maybe more than any other challenge, is endangering all humanity. Europe can be a leader in dealing with it, not only through concrete actions in limiting CO2 emissions, but also in thinking about a different economic paradigm, for which the quality of production is as important as quantity, for instance. Europe and humanity need to be saved. Technocratic solutions might be useful, in some cases, but they will never be enough when we need reason, communities, truth, development of humanity, and values that can be exchanged, applied, communicated. Populism, that manipulates the sense of belonging of people, on one hand, and neoliberalism, that tries to convince people that they only belong to what they consume, and that everything can be commodified, are both very distant from what we need today. We need individuality beyond individualism, communities beyond mass societies, a public sphere beyond mere markets where also information is a product. The time is now.

3 weeks, 5 days ago in Democracy
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Profile photo of Marco Marco

Only way for European socialists to catch up with time and stay ahead of things, would be to combine so called libertarian economy with “small government” and establish social security paid through either negative tax or basic income.   Libertarian economy is something we all know, even if many don’t know it by name. It is the idea of market and economic relations,which are completely liberated from governments planning and regulation, with government stepping in only to prevent threats to national security(if state is conservative) or environmental disaster (if state is progressive).   For a past 25 years this idea dominated economic thinking, was claimed by conservative part of political spectre, was never truly implemented to the max, but was nevertheless dominant across the planet, from New Zealand to Sweden.   Many traditional socialists condemned the idea on numerous occasions, but were unable to stop the pover of profit disregard; even 2008 crisis didn’t help .   Free market economy generates incredible wealth and prosperity; in fact its capacity of satisfying the demand, and hence-populations needs is unprecedented in human history. It is especially important to mention that the prosperity happened disregard political regime in the countries who tried free market, and especially considering the repetitious collapse of any attempt to build state supported nationalized economy to satisfy peoples needs; would it be hard core communist planning, or state run agencies in a free countries.   As socialists we must admit, however that march of free market libertarian economy also caused incredible, and unfair inequality, return of brutal zero-chance poverty and eventual suffering. Even a brief unbiased look allows to see that core of the problem is not luck of regulation or state planning, problem is purely with distribution of wealth… So called trickle down economy, idea that rich people would invest and spend money, if released from tax burden, works well with millionaires who need to re-invest to keep themselves rich. Or, in worse case scenario,who simply buy houses, limousines, jewelry for lovers, designer closes-eventually outraging public opinion, but giving jobs for thousands if not millions of designers, car manufacturers, craftsman or textile workers.   It does not work with billionaire though, with notorious “1%”. At this level money looses its pover as a tool of purchase and reward: for people who have that much capital the wealth is often a matter of sport-like a fun competition, etching ones personal pride to be at the top of Forbes list. So, eventually, big portion of wealth is simply sitting somewhere at saving accounts, un-invested and not spent.   Its our job, as social democrats, to ensure the fair and acceptable way of wealth redistribution: so while billionaire upper class would compete for a place in “Top 10 of rich peoples” rating, starving family in Greece or homeless teen in Paris would not feel like they are abandoned by society. It can go either through tax, or through government bonds or other borrowing, and ensure that it would go through proper social contract, without leaving both capital owners and welfare recipients frustrated.   It is worth mentioning, that in the situation when traditional job market and employer-worker relations are dying under pressure of outsourcing and automatisation, resurrection of small businesses, individual enterprise, gig economy, service based jobs is inevitable. So our focus should be not with collecting social security benefits from the meting iceberg of labor market, but establishing fair and efficient system of personal income tax.   Getting back to libertarian roots of my idea – I would propose to move away from the progressive tax rate, when percentage of tax was depended on income, and to tax whole population, everyone who earns income above welfare limit (and all active entities) . To set one, single, same rate, would it be 10, 20 or 25 percent. Rate will depend on who is in pover of course This way we can move away from truly Babylonian system of tax reboots, tax heavens, tax shopping and debates about which social groups contributes more to economy. From something which even most accountants fail to understand.   Should the same, universal tax rate apply not only to all individuals in the state, but also to all EU member states? Isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but in a Dream Europe-may be.   It is worth mentioning that in the left circles, there is a belief that once collected, tax will and shell be spent for a good cause in any developed society.   The reality, however, is far less optimistic..   Currently half of budget in most developed countries is spent on wars, and another half on corporate subsidies or huge Social Security bureaucracy, who is supposed to supervise distribution of social aid, and punish those who breach the rules (say – someone painted neighbors house for a fee without declaring). And only scraps go to those in need, which does not help to solve poverty.   That’s why the idea of “small government” is vital; system which would be covering the needs of people without often grotesque planning and research-either through basic income, or preferably, through negative tax, providing tax refund to anyone who declares income below certain welfare line. The Dutch system of “housing subsidies”, and “health insurance subsides” , paid directly by tax office, which is existing for decade already, and works as a clock, can be used as wider model of such tax refund welfare.   But no real equality in Europe would be possible unless there would be income and social security equality among members of different member states. it is high time to establish pan European minimal income and social security threshold so the welfare and prosperity of EU citizens would not be depended on what passport individual holds. Situation when Romanian national has to work extra hours to earn 600 Euro , while welfare recipient in Northern Europe receives twice as much as social aid is an economic and social cancer which might rot out whole thing if not dealt with in due time…   Chinese say that thousand miles way starts with a small step, so even one step this direction will be a good start.   Nicholas Gabrichidze

3 weeks, 5 days ago in EU Cohesion Policy
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I think we have a problem with the democratic voting system as it applies to the EU migrants – people of one EU country who made a home in a different EU country, but did not change citizenship. Perhaps the best examples here are the Eastern European countries. The problem that I see is that, if you are a migrant (say, leaving Romania and making a home in France), then you become somewhat deprived of your democratic right vote – you can vote for the President, if the government in your original country is so kind as to make it easy for you, but you can’t vote for the parliament, nor for the local elections. While in your new home, you have no right to vote at all. In my opinion, this can currently cause a big problem in this scenario: Imagine that you were living in a poor EU country, where the future looked bleak, and thus you sought a new EU country that could give you a better future. The same happened with hundreds of thousands others in your country, or possibly millions, throughout the years. Now, several years after you have left, a populist political party comes up in your country of origin, blaming everything on EU and promising paradise to the people, and election date is coming. If it’s an election for the President, you might be able to find a city where to go to vote in the foreign country (not necessarily, but likely possible). If it’s for the parliament, then you can do nothing – the laws in your country of origin may state that you have to be there in person, in the county where you are registered, in order to vote. And for various reasons you can’t afford to travel to that country at that time. This basically means that you are deprived of the right to vote. And thus can do nothing to prevent a populist party from coming to power. And in a country that had been so heavily depopulated by migration, you can bet that a very good part of the people that remained are poor and many have never left their town / city ever, and may thus live in a fairytale of the populist party’s making. I think that poor people and people who never traveled outside of their country are most likely to fall to populist propaganda, and it’s sad if those who did travel and live in a different EU country can do nothing about it. I believe it would be great if EU migrants could vote for the national parliament of their country of origin, regardless of where in the EU they made a new home. I also believe it would be great if the EU could come up with some guarantees / laws for all of its member states – e.g. to demand electronic or remote vote, to guarantee that all EU citizens are able to vote for their country of origin (so as not to depend on national government), to be able to contribute to the future of the nation they may one day return to.

1 month ago in Democracy
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