FEPS Fresh Thinking

Post in the context of the Oxford Symposium #PNOxford, which celebrated its 5thedition this year, thanks to the fruitful cooperation among FEPS, Policy Network and Renner Institut.


The topic of this year’s session was how to frame a new progressive narrative for the next phase of globalisation that will define in how far the centre left can ever regain its position as being the movement to shape the future decades of this 21st century



At the end the 1990’s, Progressives started to think about a new movement that would embrace globalisation.


We promised that the benefits would be shared ‘correctly’ and negative impacts would be limited.


We defined the Lisbon Agenda in 2000 for the knowledge based European society.


But it seems that something was forgotten and we were far too optimistic.


We have not respected the social contract and the welfare issues which were our strength in the 1970’s and 1980’s.


We have broken the promise of a better future for each and everyone. We thought that doing things for the few would trigger down to the many.


The promise could not last and we all know that the world of today is now a completely new world – not the brave new world that The Doors sing of but a nasty and ruthless world of competition that is threatening our achieved progress, especially in Europe but also in the United States.


But we have to admit that it is also a world with progress in other continents, as mentioned this afternoon. Poverty has lessened in many countries and living conditions have improved on a large scale in a lot of countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. This is a fact!


For sure we couldn’t have foreseen the speed of the technological advances with the speedy information flows, the permanent innovation and the introduction of globalised production chains.


But what is forgotten is that we haven’t looked closely at the fact that globalisation is still today a capital driven process, orchestrated by the destroying rules of neoliberalism and its particular sense of working for the winners and being more and more harmful for the losers.


Hence it happens that unfortunately what is traditionally our political supporting constituency is on the losing side in Europe. Or as our friend, Joe Stiglitz, just said last week in Brussels at our annual flagship conference Call to Europe – globalisation induces a situation in which states only try to offer best conditions for capital to come and stay in order to look the other way around.


Here is the crucial point: This should be ringing alarm bells for us Progressives. We need to think in the opposite way, namely that states offer suitable, good working conditions first and secondly good conditions for capital and investment and if the state alone fails it is Europe that will take over the responsibility.


These remarks lead me to the following points:


First: Yes, we desperately need a new programmatic approach on globalisation and we need this very urgently and quickly.


Yes, we need to propose an agenda that fights inequalities, that regulates capital, that improves labour regulations and that develops rules of sustainable and socially just growth.


Second: to advance in this urgency we also need to work quickly – as also stipulated by André Sapir – for more effective international institutions in developing further on the question on multilateralism or, as we discussed within FEPS and together with Pascal Lamy, on a new system of polygovernance.


A lot of intellectual debate and study is on the agenda and it is desperately needed to regain trust and confidence. This is the only way to win the political and social battle in favour of citizens and especially of the younger generations in our societies.


Therefore, I join the debate on reforming the traditional social-democratic parties. The path should not be the Macron-style hostile take-over. There are other possibilities and better solutions to do it. This is also the job to propose this to the parties we are close to.

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