Europe must help strenghten the north-african nations along the Mediteranean shoreline in order to provide a buffer zone in case Nigeria implodes (a country of 187m people) . In case this happens the millions of migrants seeking shelter in Europe will be staggering. Europe must involve itself militarily or by providing intelligence in order to help Nigeria defeat Boko haram, and also to end tge religious conflicts within this country. The ticking time bomb which is Africa and especially Nigeria is of existential threat to Europe.
The only way we can all prosper in an ever-changing word is that we work together. As our common goal is ultimately our common good, we need to make sure that all continents and all people have access to the basics that they need in order to lead a fulfilled life. We need to stop regarding Africa as a communion of countries that need our help. We need to look at the continent as a partner, as a future world leader in many respects, as a cradle of youth and development. And this is why we need to stand with Africa and with the African people in their endeavour to make the continent more visible and more engaged at a global level. The S&Ds in the European Parliament are leading this fight for a fair chance for Africa, for a better future for its youth. This September, in Brussels, we will be hosting our second edition of the Africa week. Join us and follow our discussions, as we will post more updates throughout the summer break! http://socialistsanddemocrats.eu/withafrica
I remember driving to work the morning after the Brexit vote and it felt as if some horrible atrocity had been committed during the night. The radio presenters spoke in hushed voices, sentences were started with ‘on this morning of disbelief’ and you felt that to be moving or talking was unnatural, that it was somehow wrong to continue amongst the fragments of the world you had known 24 hours earlier. At work everyone was grouped around the television, watching as political bombshell followed political bombshell; out of Europe, no confidence vote on Labour leadership, Spain moves politically on Gibraltar, Cameron resigns, Farage steps away from politics. Endless graphs of blue and yellow, crowds of people at Johnson’s, Corbyn’s and Gove’s door. The emotions in front of that TV swung from despair to anger and back again. Together the group felt the injustice and the cheapness of Farage describing the vote as the greatest victory since WWII. Then we comforted each other when the discussion turned to a future outside of Europe, to the reality of our world closing in tightly and insufferably through the reckless behaviour of politicians. No one moved throughout the morning, the television was only turned off when the commentators made their closing tired remarks down the camera on the event that was set to change the fortunes of the country forever. Brexit was a vicious wake up call. It demonstrated to me the political character of my country, which before I had not fully understood, and it solidified what I believed was right and wrong in politics. If nothing else Brexit showed us the challenge and created a lot of people ready to take it on.
How do we ignite people’s sense of injustice on this topic? I find it is often difficult to demonstrate that the behaviour of companies avoiding taxation or paying minuscule amounts in comparison to profits, has a direct correlation to the way wealth moves through the welfare state. The mismanagement of business in Europe leads to a squeeze on immediate provision and state services; it impacts how quickly you can see a doctor and whether your children have a place at the local school, it determines the amount of crime on your street and the state of your city. In the UK we are struggling to care for a growing ageing population, we have a healthcare system running on empty and social housing is becoming a thing of the past. But the justified anger that then rises in society, the growing sense of inequality amongst those on the front line of suffering, is not channelled toward the silent faceless corporations but onto neighbours. How do you turn the face of the masses upward, not sideways? We have the policies so now we need to show voters the problem clearly and unapologetically. Justice demands that if big businesses want to operate in our nations they must pay for our time, our workers and our welfare. The ladder to success, expansion and profits cannot be paved with the happiness, the health and the rights of our citizens.
Nowadays global corporations which export their goods in the Single Market (Europe) are not paying the proper level of taxes. This situation stands because of the creation of several tax heavens and special tax areas in Europe. Socialists should stress the rules of no tax areas in order to limit the expansion of tax heavens in small countries. Limiting the independence of corporations in those countries means implementing the influence of democratic authorities in global cities and, in the same time, reinforcing legitimation and contractual power to developing countries. In a global scenario like this, only a strong democratic system would be able to really rule the city and its development that means allowing citizens the entire territorial control. Generally both in global cities and poor countries there is a huge gap between the political power of local administrations and the decisions made by corporations and their influence in the governance of the city. Through the limitation of tax heavens and the economic interdependence of global investments, public institutions will be able to achieve more power, ensuring equal rights to each citizen.
It’s been 10 years since the Financial Crash of 2008 took place; an incident of such seismic proportions, that it rocked the global financial system down to the core. 10 years on, the common person is still suffering the aftermath through failed austerity programmes, massive cuts to public spending, wage stagnation and rising poverty levels. Europe is at a crisis and this is because of the neoliberal orthodoxy and failed perception that deregulation will promote the failed notion of ‘trickle-down Reaganomics.’ The recent bombshell exposé of the Panama/Paradise Papers have only gone on to affirm that the mega-rich and wealthy corporations and individuals cannot be trusted to regulate themselves. The grotesque levels of wealth funnelling and tax avoidance is not only immoral, but also enormously damaging to global economies. Whilst calls for regulation from Socialist parties are often labelled as ‘anti-business’ and ‘anti-aspiration’ – this is incredibly untrue. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation & Development) and the International Monetary Fund have also stressed that equality in society has a direct correlation on efficiency. The PES parties are not against wealth creation and company profits, but rather they believe that Governments should play their part and work closely with businesses to create a working order where those who work the hardest to allow these businesses to thrive, are fairly compensated for their services. For too long, businesses have felt completely at ease with exploiting the labour force through low pay, zero-hour contracts, unpaid internships and other schemes which under the guise of providing ‘experience and opportunity’ exploit the workers. Furthermore, these companies find it completely morally acceptable to funnel those profits out of the countries they earn them in; to Tax-havens around the world, purely to minimise their tax contributions. We are very fortunate to be seeing a change in the political tide; we’ve seen a progressive anti-austerity government get elected in Portugal with Antonio Costa, we’ve also seen Pedro Sanchez and the Spanish Socialists recently take government; and in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are knocking on the footsteps of Downing Street … The time is perfect for S&D parties to create a joint European new economic order for the Ages. One which is fit for purpose in the new world, where we see new economic challenges emerging through digital economies and crypto-currencies. What we really need now, is the introduction of Europe-wide Public share registers so that Tax authorities across Europe can hold to account those who misuse the system. The way we change European Policy and tackle tax-avoidance head-on internationally, is to lead by example. We can’t, and will not, wait for others. We must tell the world “look at us and follow our lead.” This has gone on for too long, and as a result of waiting for someone else to start the charge; European states have potentially lost billions, and that will continue until the issue is addressed! And not every business is an evil, tax-dodging and labour-exploiting leech. However, the actions of the immoral few severely harm public perceptions of all businesses. The ones who play by the rules and pay their fair share are being hit the hardest, and we must break the cycle of rewarding malpractice; whether that be tax evasion or bankers’ bonuses. Only then can we win back the public’s trust!
As we all know, public services are a main source of equality among any population. Unfortunately, these are under threat due to the increasing number of multinational companies that pay their taxes on offshore accounts in order to pay fewer amounts, therefore reducing their contributions on the States where they operate. The ultra-rich at very top, the 0,01%, keep increasing their profits and personal wealth – plus they barely face repercussions from cheating out of it, while millions of citizens of much less income do their duty. Evidently, I do recognize the importance of business in producing wealth, generating jobs and contributing to welfare. Unfortunately, the latter is at risk while we do not address tax havens – every country has the right to choose the form of taxation it wants, but we must not comply with manoeuvers that allow multinational companies and the ultra-rich to avoid paying taxes where they make profit. This trend is worrisome because it leads to less revenue for the welfare state, which has been compensated with higher taxes on lower-income households, thus increasing inequality. We, socialists, need to defend the public service from tax avoidance and ensure equal rules for all and a fair contribution from everyone.