A Berlin Declaration for Democracy and Justice

Read our alternative Berlin Declaration below or download (as word): Berlindekl_eng2007-03-23.doc

March 23, 2007

A Berlin Declaration for Democracy and Justice
The Left Party is an enthusiastic advocate of international co-operation but is not participating in the current celebration of the EU and does not support the special declaration that all of the EU’s institutions are expected to endorse. Instead, an alternative Berlin Declaration is being presented by MEPs Jens Holm and Eva-Britt Svensson (GUE/NGL, The Left Party Sweden).
The European Union is currently being celebrated with great fanfare. On March 25 it will have been 50 years since the signing of the Rome Convention, which constituted the basis of the political and economic integration of Europe.

The Swedish Left Party is an enthusiastic advocate of international cooperation. We even believe there can be distinct advantages to co-ordination on different political issues. In spite of this, we will not be participating in the celebration of the Rome Convention.

It is the Left Party’s view that each case of cooperation must be evaluated on the basis of its individual premises with respect to form and content. In the EU we see a union where both federalism and market liberalism are steadily gaining ground. We consider this neither desirable nor sustainable in the long run.

During the 50-year anniversary celebration in Berlin, a special declaration will be adopted, one which the Council of Ministers, the Commission and the parliament are expected to support. The declaration has been hammered out by the German chairmanship behind closed doors at a safe distance from ordinary citizens’ involvement. It will contain both praise for the union’s accomplishments in recent decades and indications of what is to come in the union’s future. The declaration is even seen as a tool for breathing life into the EU constitution, which has been in limbo since the proposal was rejected by the French and the Dutch in their respective countries’ referendums.

In our view it is hardly surprising that scepticism is growing throughout Europe when decisions are made far from the average citizen, decisions that tend to favor big business and big money interests. We need European cooperation constructed from the ground up with the people’s participation and verification. Politics must be about solidarity and the elevation of social and environmental norms. Instead of allowing a continued race to the bottom, we must try to create communication between countries and peoples that focuses on the quality of people’s lives and work environments. This requires considerable changes in today’s EU, both in terms of the institutions and content. Even the rejection of the constitution in France and the Netherlands demonstrates the need for reforms in the union’s manner of operation. Therefor we present a number of changes to the EU in an alternative Berlin Declaration.

The EU needs to be democratized
1) The EU’s power must be limited and decision-making authority in the member countries protected so that the division of powers is made clear. This requires, among other things, that the “pasarell” and flexibility clause in the constitution be scrapped for good.
2) The national parliaments’ power must be increased and the EU Commission’s power reduced. The right to introduce new legislation in the EU in the future should rest with the elected representatives in the national parliaments, not the bureaucrats in the Commission. In the future, members of the Commission should be appointed by the national parliaments and be subject to recall by the same.
3) The passing of all laws should be done in public so that the national parliaments can hold the legislators responsible and can give them clear mandates.

Right-wing policies must be re-examined
4) All formulations that require deregulation and free markets as primary goals should be stricken from the convention so as to render it politically neutral.
5) All rules with respect to environment and consumer protection shall be minimum standards. Countries shall always have the right to enact more progressive policies, but none with lower ambitions.
6) It should be written into the convention that mobility within the labor market must take place with complete respect for all national laws and collective agreements that exist for the purpose of protecting workers and their social rights.

Economic policy
7) Full-employment and welfare must be made primary goals for co-ordination of economic policy in the EU.
8) Democratic control over the ECB, the euro’s central bank, should be instituted.
9) A new strategy for solidarity, equality and social development should be launched in an effort to improve countries’ welfare systems and prevent negative pressure on social standards. Such a strategy must also include demands for more and better public services.

A responsible global roll
10) The militarization of the EU must be halted. Plans for a unified army, defense alliances and obligatory rearmament must be scrapped. Instead, express respect for  the UN’s decisions shall serve as guidance.
11) Member countries must have greater democratic control over how the EU conducts trade policy, while big business’ and lobbyists’ power shall be reduced. Global justice and development in the poorest nations should be express goals for the EU’s trade policy.
12) Goals for the EU’s agriculture and fisheries policy must be rewritten so that environment, sustainable development and fair global trade are prioritized. Financing and the national shaping of policy can, in all important aspects, be returned to the purview of the member countries.

Jens Holm
Eva-Britt Svensson

Members of the European Parliament GUE/NGL, The Left Party Sweden