A Europe of solidarity and opportunities

Looking to the origin of a Common Europe, solidarity and opportunities were at the origin of this new construction. Looking at it today we lack both, solidarity and opportunities.

Of course the times of the founding fathers were times in the aftermath of hatred, divisions and destruction. And it was the purpose and basic idea of the new Europe to overcome these times. The development of the construction of welfare states with the step by step implementation of a European Common Market created a Europe of solidarity and opportunity.

We have to underline, that it was not only the Common Market which created opportunities. This has to be reconfirmed again and again, as the neo- liberal ideology – against the historic facts- want to make us belief the social welfare state is destroying opportunities.

New opportunities through regional and industrial policy

And of course the market even the bigger Common Market is not the only instrument to create opportunities. Also the regional and industrial policies made an enormous contribution to our economic development in the past. And after the deviation from this successful course during the past years of neoliberal policies we must return to an active regional and industrial policies.

The state has to play its role as promoter and mediator. It is not the powerful organizer of everything, but the state and also Europe must have a targeted policy of economic and social development including the regional and industrial policy.

Solidarity and Opportunity are closely connected

For a big part of the societies it was the principle of solidarity expressed by the welfare state, which created a lot of opportunities: on the labour market, for the consumers, for the children as well as for parents and for people in the retirement age.

Therefore with the destruction of vital elements of the welfare states ( from education to public services) not only solidarity as social principle will be destroyed, but also many opportunities or to say it in another way opportunities for the many will be destroyed. The relaunching of Europe must again connect solidarity with opportunity.

In the long run solidarity must create opportunities for all and by that Europe has to restart a policy of reducing the increased inequality, of fighting poverty and( youth )unemployment. In all these cases solidarity is creating new opportunities, if not for all, so for the vast majority of citizens.

Europe means close cooperation beyond borders

We must also demystify the fear from the “free rider” or of the “moral hazard” principle. Solidarity means not to support the lazy, who wants to live an easy life and does not care about the neighbors. We have to underline, that the European project is about cooperation, where everybody must fulfill its obligation.

Europe cannot compensate the failures of individual states or governments. And therefore we cannot reduce our role to be observers of wrong actions and developments of others. Europe must help member countries and their governments to recognize and analyze the problems already when they arise or are created.

And And European institutions ask these countries to start and implement the necessary reforms, as soon as possible. But they must do it in a decent and helpful way, not like the troikas of today.

It is not a viable alternative to let national governments do the mistakes and saying it is their problem. Due to the interconnectivity and interrelationship inside the EU and of course especially inside the Eurozone, everybody is affected after all. Not helping at all to correct the wrong course or helping only after observing the wrong course developing, both ways are expressing bad European management.

Poverty migration due to a lack of solidarity and opportunities

To be concrete: we still have a huge income and wealth gap, not only between individuals but also between regions and member countries. In times of free movement, this may result in migratory flows, which raise problems in the countries of immigration,but sometimes also in countries of emigration.

Therefore an efficient strategy for regional development and to fight poverty is in the interest of all and needs also good cooperation and “selfish” solidarity. This can be particularly demonstrated in connection with the Roma population. Only an efficient integration into their original societies can prevent larger than necessary migration.

And only an integration of those who did emigrate into their host society can prevent their misuse by criminal groups. Solidarity is always the better choice. But of course it presupposes the willingness to integrate.

A good cooperation of member states, regions and all forces of integration can be successful in creating opportunities via solidarity. We should not allow space for xenophobic forces in their fight against all “foreign”: people, cultures and influences! In global times well integrated foreign people, culture and trends can be of enormous help to meet global challenges.

Freedom from fear

For being successful in promoting solidarity and opportunity we need fight the rising fears and anxieties. Giuliano Amato, the former Italian prime minister said recently at a conference in Florence: ” Europe moved from a union of hope into a union of fears!”. This change is detrimental to the arguments of reason and to the promotion of solidarity and opportunity.

In times of economic, social and psychological depression fear is dominating. Europe must turn around this bad mood. Not by propaganda and manipulation – but by ending an extreme austerity policy, by increasing and not cutting expenditure for empowerment, like education and retraining.

The youth guarantee to prevent young people to become long term unemployed is one concrete measure proposed by European Socialists and the S&D group in order to regain hope. Our Alternative Growth Survey showed that with a stretched budget consolidation we can create new opportunities for jobs seekers.

The proposal to stop the downward trend in public and private investment again would create new job opportunities. And the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance would deliver new finances for new jobs and demonstrate solidarity with all those who pay their taxes.

The fear of today is well rooted in economic and social facts, but often it is a fear of future developments. Therefore we have to create the conditions which give rise to hope for a better future. And let’s not forget, the freedom from fear is one of the fundamental freedoms. And for Socialists and Social democrats the fight for this freedom has always been fundamental.