Minutes of the meeting held on 29 September 2010 “For a European coordination of struggle against the debt and austerity plans !”

12 October 2010 by CADTM

 Minutes of the meeting held on 29 September 2010 “For a European coordination of struggle against the debt and austerity plans !”.

Read the call for the meeting

Recipients: all social movements and political parties in Europe that are convinced that a popular response must develop against the offensive launched by Capital pretexting of an exponential public debt.

Present networks and organizations: 63, see list in the other document.

Introduction: Eric Toussaint, CADTM International

Eric Toussaint developed the invitation letter sent out by the CADTM European network, stressing the need for a cross-border European response to counter the offensive led by Capital against people. Relying on its experience in countries of the South, particularly in Latin America, CADTM offers its expertise to Europe and countries of the North.
The rise of the public debt in Europe is used as a pretext to strengthen neoliberal policies aiming at lower classes paying for the debt through austerity plans and at doing away or weakening social achievements.
While this offensive is carried out in different ways depending on countries, its mould is the same and the strategy is global.
Though the invitation had been sent to many organizations, several major ones are not represented and only 8 ‘countries’ out of 27 have delegates. (See list of participants). Some sent valid excuses, but others just did not respond at all.
When it suggested this meeting to all social movements and political parties in Europe that are convinced that a popular response must develop against the offensive launched by Capital pretexting of an exponential public debt, CADTM wished to open up a debate among represented organizations in order to build a coordinated response against the debt and austerity plans. It does not want to replace other coordinating structures and wishes the best for the meeting on the future of the European Social Forum to be held in Paris on 23 and 24 October 2010.

Minutes of the general discussion

Name, organization, country Synthesis of what was said
Annick Coupé, Sud Solidaires, France We agree on the proposed proceeding, and particularly that we do not want yet another structure. We also agree that we ought to take the experiences of Latin American countries into account, in their specificities. It might be difficult to include political organizations as such into the ESF, yet this is already raised and solved in that foundations or newspapers are invited. The relative weakness of the social movement has other causes than parties not being invited to the ESF.
Marc Gilson, ATTAC Brussels, Belgium European structural adjustments are similar to those imposed on countries in the South. A government of creditors is being set up. We should:
1.Nationalize up to 50% of financial institutions;
2.Impose a financial contribution to the banks so as to set up a fund;
3.Impose a new regulation;
4.Develop alternative financing devises.
Angela Klein, European march against unemployment, Germany Germany municipalities meet major difficulties when it comes to debts and finances. Today all European countries are faced with a huge debt issue, whatever the specificities.
Raf Verbeke, CAP Belgium Belgium benefits from the European loan to Greece. Belgium is the only country that hasn’t yet made a final decision about its participation in the loan to Greece. The decision will be made on 12 October, so there is still time to react.
Verveine Dangeli, ATTAC France Attac is interested in and wants to be part of all initiatives to resist at European level. Not everything is governed by directives from the European Commission. It is therefore not all that easy to organize a common resistance. We must not ignore European policies on the debt issue. But cancelling the debt will not solve the problem of a fair distribution of wealth. Political parties’ participation will not change the power relationship.
Yvan Lemaitre, NPA, France The French collective on retirement allowances that brings together social movements and political parties is a positive example. The debt issue is new, even if it has long played a part in wealth transfers. Repaying their debts lays the role of the States bare. We must support a convergence between social movements and political parties even without an acutal coordination.
Jacques Nikonoff, M’PEP France Connection between debt and social issue. The debt is a pretext used by ruling classes to enforce austerity plans. We must not ignore private debts. Connection between debt and monetary policy. Tax abatements + bailing banks out + monetary policies = public debt. Difficulty to organize a common struggle for general defaulting in Europe. But some countries should default. Quitting the euro is an issue that has been raised in Greece.
Nicolas Bénies, Gauche Unitaire, France Public indebtment as part of Keynesian policies from 1944 to 1974 went hand in hand with development and growth. The current debt crisis has specific features. Capital leads its offensive without meeting with any genuine resistance. We do not face a debt crisis in Europe but a crisis of the euro. The banking sector must be nationalzed and wealth must be distributed in a different way.
Chantal Delmas, Espace Marx, Transform Network Do we need a European coordination against the debt and austerity plans? This must be related to actual struggles. Such a coordination is in fact a matter of urgency. We must bring together social movements and political parties in a flexible combination.
Josu Egireun, Basque country Social movements and political parties are both represented at the ESF. We must show the connection between debt and attacks against retirement allowances and public services. The ESF could not build any efficient solidarity with the Greek people. Initiatives must not come from above. The Istanbul ESF was a disaster because it failed to provide any answer.
Georges Mitralias, Committee against the debt, Greece Differences among countries account for the current fragmentations. Action is now a matter of emergency. I propose a European conference against ‘their debts’ with a preparation committee.
Oygun Sundsbø Brynildsen, Eurodad (represents 58 European organizations acting on the issue of the debt and demanding international arbitration) The Latin American audits that Eric Toussaint mentioned are a major asset Asset Something belonging to an individual or a business that has value or the power to earn money (FT). The opposite of assets are liabilities, that is the part of the balance sheet reflecting a company’s resources (the capital contributed by the partners, provisions for contingencies and charges, as well as the outstanding debts). in the issue of European debts. We work together with CADTM and Jubilee South for a policy of responsible lending.
Week of global action against the debt and the IFIs 7 to 15 October
Daniel Tanuro, LCR Belgium Belgium and Italy have been subjected to structural adjustment Structural Adjustment Economic policies imposed by the IMF in exchange of new loans or the rescheduling of old loans.

Structural Adjustments policies were enforced in the early 1980 to qualify countries for new loans or for debt rescheduling by the IMF and the World Bank. The requested kind of adjustment aims at ensuring that the country can again service its external debt. Structural adjustment usually combines the following elements : devaluation of the national currency (in order to bring down the prices of exported goods and attract strong currencies), rise in interest rates (in order to attract international capital), reduction of public expenditure (’streamlining’ of public services staff, reduction of budgets devoted to education and the health sector, etc.), massive privatisations, reduction of public subsidies to some companies or products, freezing of salaries (to avoid inflation as a consequence of deflation). These SAPs have not only substantially contributed to higher and higher levels of indebtedness in the affected countries ; they have simultaneously led to higher prices (because of a high VAT rate and of the free market prices) and to a dramatic fall in the income of local populations (as a consequence of rising unemployment and of the dismantling of public services, among other factors).

IMF : http://www.worldbank.org/
plans for 25 years. This is becoming general. We must choose among the three coordination proposals: on the debt, on austerity measures or on an anticapitalist alternative. Voting for a European constituant assembly raises political issues. We must be clear about our platform. We must go beyond the CADTM’s 8 proposals.
Christophe Ventura, Parti de Gauche et Mémoire des luttes, France I agree on the whole on the proposed process and stress the need to make sure that this initiative be anchored in reality and participate in the convergence of current struggles. The European conference on the debt and austerity plans must highlight wealth transfer mechanisms and expose the role of the debt as a pretext for austerity measures.
Eric Toussaint The 8 proposals in the CADTM leaflet to be widely distributed in 7 languages during the demo in the afternoon and on other occasions are not a project for a common platform. They are just CADTM proposals. We quite understand that some organizations should not subscribe to them.
Vladimir Nieddu, Sud santé services sociaux, fédération du Nord/Pas De Calais, France This meeting is a good thing and should soon lead to convergences in action. ESF is a useful tool but probably insufficient and late. To the proposal of a European conference we must add local initiatives. An international conference on debt and health is to be held in Lille. While the workers’ movement may not be as strong as it should, it is not defeated for all that.
Stockton David, Ligue for a 5th International, UK In spite of the British austerity plan there are few strikes. The British Airways strike was a failure and some 100 TU delegates were laid off. On 3 October there will be a national initiative against the conservative party conference in Birmingham. On 20 October a demo of civil servants will take place. An international dimension is wanting. We need strikes that can be extended beyond the limits set by the ESF and we must all a meeting of social movements and parties.
Pascal Franchet, CADTM France We need a European structure for exchange, analysis and action on debt. Eastern Europe is a laboratory where austerity measures to be implemented in the rest of Europe are experimented. On 23 and 24 October the Paris meeting will offer an opportunity to prepare this European conference on the debt and austerity plans.
 Merlin Ap Ceridweu, ESF – News Agency Wales, UK Points to the imperialist dimension, recalling the history of his own nation. Protests against the TUs’ decision to turn a mass counter summit against the European summit into a mere conference in March 2011. The issue of creditors is crucial.
Nicolas Dessaux, Initiative Communiste Ouvrière, France As a key issue the debt can play a unifying part. He supports the Greek comrade’s proposal.
Rémy Jean, FASE, France Debt is indeed a key issue that must be included in a wider programme of rupture. The European conference on the debt and austerity plans does not compete with the ESF or constructions of global alternatives.
Jérôme Duval, CADTM Spain Action is a matter of emergency. I agree with Georges Mitralias on a European conference on the debt and austerity plans.
Jean Baptiste Godinot, growth objector We must support our Greek comrades and build convergences. The financial debt is now compounded with an environmental debt. We must leave productivism.
Peter Damo, Romanian social Forum Highlights the cruelty of the current austerity plan in Romania and insists on the urgency of a coordinated response. His country is used by the IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.

as a laboratory for measures to be implemented in other European countries.

 Consensus proposal for the meeting of social movements and the ESF coordination in Paris on 23 and 24 October 2010:

We propose that an open preparation meeting for a European conference against the debt and austerity plans be included in the agenda of the ESF coordination meeting on 23 and 24 October.

For CADTM-Europe network,
Eric Toussaint and Myriam Bourgy,
president and general secretary of CADTM Belgium
Pascal Franchet, vice-president of CADTM France
Jérôme Duval, CADTM Spain
Giorgos Mitralias, Committee against the debt (Greece)

Note: These minutes are sent to all organizations and networks that had been invited to the meeting on 29 September 2010

Translated by Christine Pagnoulle

 For a European coordination of struggle against the debt and austerity plans !

Adressees: All social movements and political parties in Europe that are convinced that a popular respond must be developed against the offensive launched by the Capital under cover of the explosion of the public debt.

Dear friends, dear comrades,

On the occasion of its European seminar in Namur (Belgium) 22 to 24 May 2010, CADTM and its European network launched a call to a transborder mobilization against the dictatorship of creditors. Relying on this call, our delegation at the European Social Forum (ESF) in Istanbul in early July 2010 worked towards the construction of a European coordination against the debt and austerity plans.

The various actions planned in Brussels and elsewhere in Europe on 29 September, called a.o. by the European Trade Union Confederation, are crucial. We hope that they will bring large numbers of participants together and be the beginning of a concerted response to the attacks launched on behalf of capital owners and of creditors against social benefits.

The CADTM-Europe network calls all political forces, trade unions and citizens associations to come together and set up a common platform and a schedule of initiatives and actions on a European scale.

With the help of the IMF and of the European Commission, Capital and the leaders of European countries are resolved to have the lower classes pay for the crisis.

What is at stake is social regression, rising unemployment, and a challenging of peoples’ fundamental rights.

Popular mobilizations, starting with that of the Greek people directly and unprecedently aggressed, may not be successful if we cannot construct a united and offensive response, coordinated at the European level.

As you already know, for twenty years now CADTM (www.cadtm.org/English) has developed an expertise in the field of public debt in terms of diagnosis and of alternatives. Over the last two years it has developed an analysis of the public debt issue in industrialized countries, and it now wishes to share Share A unit of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset, representing one part of the total capital stock. Its owner (a shareholder) is entitled to receive an equal distribution of any profits distributed (a dividend) and to attend shareholder meetings. it (as well as proposals for demands) with as many social and political movements as possible. CADTM took the initiative of this meeting that aims at setting up a light and nimble concertation so as to decide together on the meeting’s agenda.

We invite all political and social organisations to send a delegation to Brussels for a first meeting towards such concertation using the occasion provided by the demonstration called upon by ETUC on 29 September.

 Proposed meeting on 29 September from 8.30 am to 12.15 am in Brussels

Venue : Centrale Générale des Services Publics,
9-11 Place Fontainas, 1000 Bruxelles
(it is less than 10 minutes walk from the departure point of the ETUC demonstration which begins at 13:00 at the gare du midi)

(see agenda on next page)

A reminder will be sent in early September 2010 with a list of participating organizations. Organizers do not see to accommodation and meals. On the other hand, they do organize translation into at least two working languages: English and French.

Each delegation will have to make sure that at least one of its members can translate into their national language from French or English.

We look forward to seeing you on 29 September and send you our best activist greetings,

For the CADTM-Europe network,
- Eric Toussaint and Myriam Bourgy, President and secretary general of CADTM Belgium
- Pascal Franchet and Sophie Perchellet, Vice-presidents of CADTM France ;
- Juan Tortosa, CADTM Switzerland,
- Jérôme Duval, CADTM Spain
- Giorgos Mitralias, Committee against the Debt (Greece)

 Proposed agenda:

- 08.00: registration of participating organisations;
- 08.30: general debate on the crisis and on current mobilizations;
- 09.45 – 10.00: pause;
- 10.00–11.30 : proposal of common demands and of a schedule of initiatives and actions;
- 11.30 -12.15: setting up a liaison committee.
- End at 12.15
(The present agenda can of course be changed)

Will you kindly fill the form ? This will help practical organisation.

Eng. invitation 29 september

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