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Newsletter Alter Summit - September 2014

Elections 2014: a Polarized European Parliament
By Walter Baier

The European parliamentary elections of May 2014, in which nearly 160 million people took part (43 %) out of 400 million entitled to vote, certainly represents only a snapshot.

We see now a European Parliament which is more polarized than ever. The big loser is the political centre, however in particular the European People’s Party (EPP), which lost 53 mandates (almost one fifth of its seats). The Social Democrats can be pleased with having gained half a percentage point as compared to the last elections. Even though the Conservatives still represent the strongest group – winners look somewhat different.

Although the political centre formed by Conservatives, Social Democrats and Liberals, which is responsible for the current policy of the EU, is still holding a majority of seats in the European Parliament, it cannot be denied that their basis has shrunk drastically. It finds itself confronted by two strengthened oppositions: on the one hand on the Right, where the number of anti-European, nationalist mandates has increased significantly, now representing more or less one quarter of the parliament. In three countries, Great Britain (27 %), Denmark (27 %) and France (25 %), the voters have made the parties of the extreme, nationalist Right the most influential force.

Those right-wing representatives cannot only be found in the avowed nationalist right-wing Groups, the European Conservatives and Reformists and Europe of Freedom and Democracy, as well as in the ranks

of neo-Nazi parties and radically right which like the Austrian Freedom Party have not been able to found a Group of their own, but also in contexts where you would not necessarily expect their presence. Victor Orbàn’s FIDESZ, for instance, has found its space in the European People’s Party. Thus, nationalism has after these EU-parliamentary elections ultimately stopped being a marginal political phenomenon, but is now seen crossing the entire right spectrum of the European Parliament.

On the other hand, the Group of the parties left of Social Democracy and Greens, the United Left / Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), has significantly increased the number of its votes; this refers to both quantity – it has increased its mandates from 35 to 52 – and quality, because new political forces have joined, such as the Animal Protection Parties from Germany and the Netherlands as well as the party of Podemos in Spain which has its roots in the Indignados. Together Social democrats, Greens and GUE/NGL represent 39 percent of the seats in the EP which of course is far away from any possible majority.

The polarization in European politics reflects the deep crisis which is haunting Europe and a number of states. However the relation of power between the conflicting forces is still not favourable.

The challenge remains to make the demands of the social movements and trade unions so visible that they can be ignored neither by governments nor the institutions. This will also be a major contribution to reduce the influence of the radical and nationalist right, the gain in many countries to influence.

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EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Roll back corporate power! People and the planet before profit!

Call for European decentralised multi-sectoral day of action against TTIP, CETA and corporate free trade agenda on 11 October 2014.

Civil society, trade unions, farmers and grassroots activist groups from all over Europe call for a day of action to stop the ongoing TTIP, CETA, TiSA and other free trade negotiations and to promote alternative trade policies, which put peoples rights, democracy and the environment first.

TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and EU) are the most prominent examples of how trade and investment policies are being negotiated undemocratically and in the sole interest of large corporations. Negotiations are being undertaken in secrecy, with very little information available for public scrutiny, while allowing corporate lobbies increasing influence over them.

Should these agreements go ahead, multinational corporations will have exclusive rights to sue governments before international panels independent from national and European legal systems. They will reduce health and safety standards in a bid for transatlantic harmonization and undermine national and local governments authority to prevent harmful business practices such as fracking or use of GMO's. They will induce the sell-off of essential public services and force workers and social rights in a race to the bottom.

These policies are closely linked to the ongoing dismantling of social standards and the push for privatization of public services in the name of austerity, crisis-policies and increasing "competitiveness".

The day of action will make our dissent publicly visible in the streets of Europe. We will carry the debate about these policies into the public arena, from which the EU Commission and European governments try to keep it away. And we will promote our alternatives for different economic policies.

We stand in solidarity with citizens and groups around the world who share our concerns for the environment, democracy, human and social rights. TTIP/CETA/TiSA and other similar trade agreements will be stopped by the energy which the citizens of Europe, Canada and the US put into making our voices heard.

We call on organisations, individuals and alliances to participate by organising autonomous decentralized actions across Europe. We welcome diversity of tactics and solidarity actions from across the world that will help inform, engage and mobilise people locally.

We can win this battle. Together, let's roll back corporate power!

Campaign website

TISA or the secret agreement
Pablo Sanchez, EPSU

The Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) is becoming an issue for many people in Europe. Negotiated in secret in Geneva for almost two years by over 50 countries, including the European Union, USA, Japan, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Australia and South Korea, it has taken months of work from global researchers and a spectacular leak from Julian Assange’s Wikileaks to expose anything about its contents.

Read the article on the Alter Summit's website
 

The caravan of refugees and undocumented migrants : a political lesson
By Sebastian Franco

The action week of the caravan of refugees and undocumented migrants, which took place from the 20th to the 28th of June 2014 in Brussels, was an unprecedented event. Indeed, more than 500 refugees, migrants and supporters (with a very large majority of migrants) joined together for a week to discuss and take actions on the fringe of the summit of heads of States who were discussing the european migratory problems.

The caravan witnessed the participation of undocumented people, refugees and migrants from Germany, Italy, france and Holland, but also some delegations too from Tunisia, Morocco, and other countries. All these people had to prove much determination to face the European fortress laws to come to Brussels: this is a victory in itself.

Read more on the Alter Summit's website
 

Roundup of useful information

Next Alter Summit Assembly

25th and 26th of September, Brussels. Agenda
Informations and registration : sebastian@altersummit.eu.
Last Alter Summit's décisions:
Organization: AS will organize one General Assembly and 3 smaller assemblies every year. Next General Assembly, spring 2015.
Political interpellation: AS will contact different MEPs to initiate a better collaboration with political representatives.

European Commission rejected the European Citizen Initiative on TTIP and CETA

In its rejection of the ECI, the European Commission claims that the negotiating mandates on TTIP and CETA are not legal acts but internal preparatory acts between EU institutions and therefore not contestable via an ECI.
More information on
http://stop-ttip.org/eu-commission-wants-to-wipe-out-citizens-involvement-in-ttip-and-ceta/
European Commission's Arguments
http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/initiatives/non-registered/details/2041?lg=en

More on TISA

The fight against TISA (Trade in Services Agreement) is growing. Some links...
Report from Public Services International
http://www.world-psi.org/en/psi-special-report-tisa-versus-public-services
One year ago, 341 organizations send a letter to Trade Ministers
http://www.s2bnetwork.org/fileadmin/dateien/downloads/Letter_from_341_
Groups_Against_Proposed_TISA_-_Sept_2013.pdf

TISA and more : http://www.bilaterals.org/?lang=en
Verdi, Germany: about TTIP und TiSA:
http://www.verdi.de/themen/internationales/++co++ee801132-08d7-11e4-8a3b-52540059119e
More on other Free Trade Agreements
Call for support: Les Parlements africains et européen doivent refuser l’accord de « partenariat » économique (APE) https://blogs.attac.org/groupe-afrique/article/les-parlements-africains-et

The fight of the 595 greek cleaning women : international action day

The week from the 15th to the 22nd of September is a week of action concerning the 595 greek cleaners. It's just a few days before the day of the court's final decision of the 23rd of September. Send your solidarity messages to sonia.mitralia@gmail.com.
More informations on http://595katharistries.wordpress.com/international-solidarity/
Sign the petition and spread it

Ciré and Migreurope Seminar on « Freedom of Movement and free Migration »

On 11th and 12th of December, European Parliament (tbc) in Brussels.This seminar will approach different issues on migration such as work, social security and public finances, poverty and social inequalities.
On 11th, different social movements, trade unions and migrants organizations will try to define what could be the objectives of an European migration policy.
More informations soon on http://www.cire.be/ or http://www.migreurop.org/
Registration : mfranssens@cire.be

Convergences/calendar

- European Summer University feedbacks...
http://www.esu2014.org/?page=comptes-rendus
...and european social movements calendar
http://www.esu2014.org/en/article/calendar-of-european-social

- 27th of Sepember, Brussels. Convergence in Europe, a call from Blockupy : http://blockupy.org/en/3866/blockupy-international-invites-european-movements-networks-organisations-to-an-open-assembly-in-brussels-september-26-27/

- Convergence in Germany, 2-4 October : http://www.rosalux.de/event/50464/

 

 

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