A PEOPLES’ MANIFESTO
Our urgent common priorities for a democratic,
social, ecological and feminist Europe
ROLL BACK AUSTERITY
AND CLAIM REAL DEMOCRACY!
Europe stands on the edge of a precipice, looking into the abyss. Austerity
policies drive the peoples of Europe into poverty, undercut democracy
and dismantle social policies. Rising inequalities endanger social cohesion.
Ecological destruction is worsening while acute humanitarian crises devastate
the most affected countries. Women and young people are hardest hit.
The European oligarchy employs
ever more authoritarian methods to prop up a failed neoliberal system—all
this despite widespread protest and resistance. Democracy and peace
are under threat. Discrimination,
based on religion, racism, homophobia or sexism and nationalism are on
the rise and the crisis is deepening daily. The very existence of the
European Union is now at risk while current policies weaken solidarity
among European peoples.
Our most urgent priority is to build Europe on the basis of equality,
solidarity, and authentic democracy. EU institutions and European governments
now serve the interests of financial markets, with no respect for popular
sovereignty. They must be brought under democratic control, just as the
public interest must prevail and ecological and social needs be met.
We base our demands for a democratic, social, ecological and feminist
Europe on these principles, in solidarity with the peoples of the world.
I) End debt slavery
Public debt stems from economic and political choices still on the agenda
of EU institutions and European governments. Decades of regressive
tax policies have consciously and outrageously enriched a small minority
whereas public revenues have declined and public entities using public
money have bailed out failed banks. Austerity policies have drained
household and small business resources and made the recession worse.
Speculation on government bonds is commonplace for private banks while
public finance has been tainted by corruption and collusion between
politicians and private economic interests.
Moreover, in many countries private, as opposed to national debt, is
due to household borrowing, aggressively promoted by the financial sector
and governments in order to compensate for the stagnation of real wages
while prices were rising.
The measures imposed by European institutions and governments are designed
to make the people pay for this debt. However, in large part, this
debt can be considered illegitimate since it was amassed with no regard
for the common good. It is now clear that some countries will never be
able to reimburse their debt.
Human rights must come before debt service and human needs before profit. As
a matter of urgency, we demand European-wide measures to free peoples
from the pressures of financial markets and austerity policies. Fiscal,
tax and monetary policies must be changed so as to defuse the debt trap.
Our common and urgent demands:
1. Cancel immediately the ‘memoranda’ imposed by the Troika
upon over-indebted countries. Cancel as well a considerable share of
the public debt without harming the interests of small bondholders, savers
and pensioners. Banks and the financial sector must take their
share of the losses. Specific amounts to be cancelled should be defined
democratically. In this regard, citizen debt audits can serve as a useful
2. Suspend repayments until populations are protected against worsening
poverty and employment and until economic development and ecological
transition are ensured, public services strengthened and social and economic
3. Target the richest segment of the population with a one-off wealth
4. Mandate and oblige the European Central Bank and other public European
banking institutions to lend directly to states at low interest and under
democratic supervision without neoliberal “reform” programme
II) Towards an ecological and social Europe: roll back austerity
Throughout Europe, particularly on its southern and eastern rims, harsh
austerity policies are imposed, supposedly for the sake of debt repayment
and reduction. Entire populations are overburdened, public spending is
cut dramatically in essential areas, valuable investments in research
or industrial activities are downgraded although they could contribute
to a social and ecological transition.
These austerity policies enforced by EU institutions and European governments
create a downward spiral, destroy economies, add to deficits, debts,
unemployment and poverty and intensify the ecological crisis and the
looting of the environment. Meanwhile, a small minority continues to
enrich itself unduly.
Today, more than half of European wealth is captured by 10% of the population.
Present policies are intentionally designed to maintain these inequalities
as well as the neoliberal model which is devastating the planet and undermining
democratic and social rights.
We demand a complete reversal of these policies and a different model
of society that ensures social justice, equality, a fair distribution
of wealth, ecological sustainability and protection of the commons.
Our common and urgent demands:
1. Roll back austerity now: it is driving Europe deeper into recession.
Cancel or veto the treaties and regulations that underpin it, such as
the Fiscal Pact, the Six-Pack, the Two-Pack or the Pact for Competitiveness
currently negotiated. Trade imbalances within the Monetary Union must
be reduced by adjusting surplus country policies, not by imposing austerity
on the deficit countries. Fiscal policy should remain a democratic choice.
2. Ensure tax justice with a just, progressive and permanent taxation
system on revenues, wealth and corporate profits, with effective minimum
rates applied in all European countries. Revoke increases of consumption
taxes such as vat and drastically reduce those on basic goods. Outlaw
tax havens and strengthen measures against fraud and tax avoidance and
3. Develop public, Europe-wide investment programs under social control
for a social and ecological transition. This transition should be based
on an industrial and agricultural policy that addresses the ecological
crisis as well as the need to create millions of quality jobs and should
rely on ecologically sustainable and socially useful activities in the
public interest. Among these would figure increased investment in education,
energy transition, public transportation, and food sovereignty. It would
simultaneously require cutting military spending and socially and ecologically
harmful expenditure. EU and national budgets should also be reoriented
in this direction.
4. Strengthen and develop the social and ecological commons, redefine
and expand public services, including health, scientific research, education,
early childhood nurturing, transport and energy, water, information and
culture, public housing, credit and so on. Stop all privatization of
these services, establish their public or cooperative ownership and manage
III) Rights for all: no to poverty and precariousness
Austerity policies attack economic and social rights and dismantle social
protection. They lead to a drop in the standard of living and in many
countries to acute humanitarian distress. The consequences are massive
unemployment as well as a serious downgrading of working and living conditions.
These, in turn, lead to unacceptable increases in poverty: today, 120
million people in the EU are poor.
In the present context of the crisis, these measures are taken even further.
They attack labour rights and the role of unions, including their capacity
to organize and bargain collectively. They impose competitiveness as
a principle in order to divide people, increase profits, lower wages,
and turn nature and human activities into commodities. Free trade agreements
also foster social, ecological and fiscal dumping.
People living in precarious conditions, workers or unemployed, disabled
people, pensioners are hardest hit. Among them, women, young people and
migrants are first in line. Women are particularly affected by attacks
on labor rights and are also obliged to compensate for the demolition
of public services with unpaid care work; migrants’ basic rights
are denied and an entire generation of European youth is subjected to
unprecedented joblessness and social decline.
We demand that every person enjoy effective democratic, economic, environmental
and social rights.
Our common and urgent demands:
1. Restore the right to bargain collectively and the right of collective
action; Safeguard or reinstate collective agreements and labor rights
under threat from austerity packages. Guarantee democracy inside the
work-place as a fundamental workers’ right. ILO standards and the
European Social Charter must be applied to all workers, including migrants.
Put a stop to precarious work.
2. End social and wage dumping in Europe and in the world, including
through international agreements; promote a common ground of collective
guarantees in Europe that can ensure high-level social security systems
and economic rights.
3. Increase wages, establish an adequate minimum wage for every
worker set by law or binding collective agreement in each country and
a minimum income sufficient for a dignified life. Decrease working hours
without decreasing wages and ensure a just division of unpaid care work;
promote quality and sustainable employment for all with decent working
conditions. Decrease radically salary differentials in the same company.
4. Protect security of tenure of indebted households and generally the
right of all people to decent housing. Ensure effective access to prevention
and quality healthcare for all.
5. Impose equality of wages, pensions and career development between
women and men and outlaw discrimination at work based on gender, ethnic
origin, nationality or sexual orientation. Vigorously oppose violence
6. Strengthen the social and political protagonism of migrants. Oppose
the politics of criminalization of migrants and refugees. Secure equal
rights for migrants and the granting of asylum, close detention camps,
close the FRONTEX Agency and end its EU border operations.
IV) For a democratic economy: make banks serve the public interest
The collapse of the private banking system in 2008 was not an accident
but rather a direct consequence of finance serving only shareholders
and speculators to the detriment of the public interest. In recent
decades, governments have both authorized and encouraged this system
by consenting to every demand of the financial industry. Many public
or cooperatively-owned credit institutions previously devoted to financing
useful regional activities have been privatized. Meanwhile, the absence
of regulation has allowed criminal organizations worldwide to launder
money and invest their huge profits freely.
Governments responded to the crisis by injecting hundreds of billions
of euros into bank rescues at the expense of taxpayers and provided financial
interests with unconditional guarantees, thereby strengthening the private
banks even further.
In order to make the banking sector and the financial industry serve
the public interest, society and the environment from now on, the
disproportionate power of financial institutions must be curbed through
strict regulation and public and democratic control over banks.
Our common and urgent demands:
1. Review the extensive guarantees granted to private finance and exercise
public control in the event of bank failures so as to avoid negative
impacts on society. The shareholders of failed banks as well as their
creditors must take their share of losses. Bailed-out banks must be socialized.
2. Impose effective and strict regulation of banks and other financial
institutions. Enforce complete separation of commercial and investment
banks. Prohibit the use of tax havens and off-balance sheet activities.
Abolish bank secrecy rules. Tax financial transactions and restore control
over capital inflows or outflows. Break up “too big to fail” banks.
3. Enforce democratic and social control of banks and financial institutions.
Orient credit towards job-creating activities that encourage social and
ecological development. Give priority and incentives to publicly and
collectively owned cooperative public credit systems.
STAND UP FOR DEMOCRACY!
Current developments in Europe represent an outright denial of democracy.
Democratic debate is silenced, repression against social movements
is increasing and divisions are encouraged between people and between
countries. The predictable outcome is the rise of racist, right-wing
or fascist movements as resentment is partly directed against migrants,
poor people, minorities, foreigners, and/or other European peoples.
The best way to defeat these movements is to get rid of austerity.
Alternatives exist: our responsibility is to change the balance of power
in order to impose them and build genuine political, social and economic
democracy in Europe.
Because we refuse to be governed by a self-appointed European oligarchy,
Because we refuse the exploitation of people and nature in Europe and
in the rest of the world,
Because we reject the European Union’s contribution to conflict
Because we call for an end to the exploitation and the oppression of
and for a break with the patriarchal system,
Because we want real democracy, real participation and popular sovereignty,
Because we want a society that gives priority to ecological and social
We are building a united movement
for a democratic, social, ecological and feminist Europe!
We are supporting and strengthening each other’s struggles;
We pledge to join forces and to fight together make our demands a reality
through national and European actions.
The Alter Summit in Athens on June 7th and 8th 2013 will be an important
step in this direction.
Calendar and information: www.altersummit.eu