Presentation of the second ReCommons Europe manifesto – A key encounter in the search for alternatives

2 December 2020 by Mats Lucia Bayer , ReCommons Europe

The ReCommons Europe meeting-days took place in Brussels on 22 and 23 September 2020 under the title Let Us Act Now: Internationalist Alternatives to EU Policies in the Age of SARS-CoV-2. In the course of those meeting-days we introduced the manifesto ReCommons Europe: Impact of European policies on the Global South and Possible Alternatives (available online).

During 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic and the health measures that have been implemented in most countries have induced activist organizations to rethink the formats of their meetings and events. In the case of the ReCommons Europe Project it was essential to be able to introduce the manifesto before the end of the year. We had originally planned this meeting in Kinshasa in April and in Brussels in May. However, Covid restrictions forced us to revise our plan. We thought it was important to physically bring together as many activists as possible, considering the health recommendations. So we organized these meeting days along a hybrid format, combining face-to-face and online dynamics. With the help of technicians and interpreters, we managed to have 40 participants actually in the room and up to 70 online participants. Thanks to the online format we had participants from 22 countries (Argentina, Belgium, Columbia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, France, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Morocco, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, the Spanish State, Switzerland, the United Kingdom).

We presented each of the topics that are dealt with in this second part of the ReCommmons Europe manifesto (the first part of which was published in 2019). The issues examined in this manifesto, which mainly deals with European countries’ policies towards peoples of the Global South, included policies inducing debt; trade policies and free-trade agreements; migration and border management policies; policies on the arms trade; the spoliation of rights and cultural items belonging to peoples of the South, leading to demands for reparation and restitution. Each of these issues was discussed in rich debates to be posted on the CADTM website. As well as introducing the manifesto, the format of the encounter made it possible to establish online meetings between activists who are active in different areas of struggle and normally have few opportunities for interaction.

This presentation also marked the completion of the ReCommons Europe project, which had brought together activist and researchers since early 2018, with the common aim of developing concrete proposals for alternative policies at European level. Our starting-point was that the populations bear the brunt of the multiple (economic, geopolitical, representative) crises European countries have gone through. The solutions proposed by the EU have only deepened the social crisis, which, together with more and more openly xenophobic policies, opened the door to some of the most reactionary movements for decades. The first objective of the ReCommons Europe project was to formulate an answer to the urgent need for concrete alternatives. In this respect, the two parts of the ReCommons Europe Manifesto include a strategic dimension in the way proposed measures are formulated, including measures to be taken in the short, middle and long term, all with a view to effecting radical change in European countries.

Furthermore the project was also enriched by the last ten years’ experience of mobilization and attempts by Left-wing forces to make an impact on institutions. Thus ReCommons Europe does not only raise the question of power, but also of what kind of relationship should be established with government bodies in European countries. The various experiences of popular organizations elected to government in Europe are a warning against the ever-present danger of a growing disconnection from the population that brought them to power and of a distancing from those forces that lead a daily fight to change society. In this respect, it seemed important that this proposal for a radical programme should come from social movements to enable them to exert pressure outside institutions.

Moreover, the meeting-days’ “Let us Act Now”, which took place over two days, also hosted the presentation of the Packages for Common Demands and the campaign for a Covid Tax, in which the CADTM is also involved. Our objective was to promote necessary debate on alternatives to current policies, in a context of social emergency such as that created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A number of MEPs participated in the event, as among whom were Miguel Urbán Crespo (Anticapitalistas, Spanish State), Leila Chaibi (France Insoumise), José Gusmão (group of the European United Left, Portugal), members of Manon Aubry’s team (France Insoumise), Paul Murphy (former MEP and currently member of the Irish Parliament); also present was Germain Mugemangango (spokesperson for the Workers’ Party of Belgium – Parti du Travail de Belgique, PTB – on the French-speaking side and chair of the PTB parliamentary group at the Walloon parliament - Belgium).

Below is an outline of the sessions of September 22nd

10 – 1 - First session

Participants introduce themselves

Presentation of the three initiatives:

  • ReCommonsEurope – Impact of European policies on the Global South and possible alternatives;
  • Package of Common Demands;
  • Covid Tax. Miguel Urban (MEP - Anticapitalistas).

Cancel illegitimate and odious claims by European countries from third parties and give absolute priority to human rights

Introduced by Rémi Vilain (CADTM) and Tijana Okics. Respondent: Dominic Brown (AIDC, South Africa).

End the inhumane migratory policies of Fortress

Introduced by Mats Lucia Bayer (CADTM) and Sara Prestinani (EuroMed Rigths). Respondents Mamadou Ba (SOS Racism Portugal), Mamadou Bah (CADTM Belgium) and Helena Maleno (Coordinator for Caminando Fronteras and human rights activist)

2 – 4 Second Session

End the EU’s neo-colonial policies in the field of trade and investment

Introduced by Maria Elena Saludas (ATTAC-CADTM Argentina) and Omar Aziki (ATTAC-CADTM Morocco). Respondents: Monica Vargas (TNI – Amsterdam) and Patrick Bond Bond A bond is a stake in a debt issued by a company or governmental body. The holder of the bond, the creditor, is entitled to interest and reimbursement of the principal. If the company is listed, the holder can also sell the bond on a stock-exchange. (South Africa).

A project against militarist Europe

Introduced by Stathis Kouvelakis (EreNSEP). Respondents: Yvonne Ngoyi (CADTM DRC) and Broulaye Bagayoko (CAD Mali).

After the past crimes of the European colonial powers and European neo-colonialism, reparation is needed.

Introduced by Camille Chalmers (PAPDA Haiti, CADTM member). Respondents : Mireille Fanon Mendès-France (Foundation Franz Fanon) and Véronique Clette-Gakuba (Sociologist, Free University of Brussels) .

4:40 – 5 Conclusions

What next?

2020 will mark history as the year of the most severe crisis of the capitalist system. We must also bear in mind that 2019 was a year of massive social mobilization all over the world. The capitalist system is falling apart. Clearly current policies fail to meet people’s most urgent needs. More than ever we need concrete alternatives that can induce radical change towards a socially fair and ecologically responsible society. The various crises that our society is undergoing may also modify the conditions of the struggle. We are convinced that the analyses produced by ReCommons Europe are a good starting point for debates on programmes to be held in the coming years.

Videos and photos : Zin TV and Beatriz Ortiz

Translated by Christine Pagnoulle

Other articles in English by Mats Lucia Bayer (5)




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