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by European Attac Network
Wednesday, Feb. 03, 2021 at 11:30 PM
People must decide how they want to live and what they want to produce in a fair ecological exchange that respects the interests of all people. This would also reverse the logic of competition between countries which is based on lowering labor costs, and promote ecological goals.
A better future after Covid19
21 Proposals of the European Attac Network
[These proposals are translated from the German on the Internet, Microsoft Word - EuropAttacNetw-Corvid19-decl_fin_20200414.docx.]
The European Attac Network (EAN) invites all organizations, movements and activists to join our debates and actions on the occasion of the multifaceted crisis triggered by Covid-19.
- How can we prevent social damage and attacks on democratic rights?
- How can we reverse the prevailing logic and challenge neoliberal capitalism, profit and gross domestic product with sustainable living conditions for all in a viable environment?
- How can we open perspectives for a different socio-ecological system, that replaces neoliberal capitalism?
Our summer universities (as far as possible in 2020) and the European Summer University in August 2021 in Germany will be good opportunities in this process.
Covid-19 is a viral disease that began to spread in China. In the meantime, it has spread due to the internationalization of supply chains and the intense movements brought about by global tourism. No region is unaffected. The responses to this health crisis, however, have varied from country to country. Some national governments have acted quickly, while others have waited too long, culpably or mindful of the economic consequences. Measures also differed from one country to another. The 2008 financial crisis, the worsening of the global climate and environmental crisis, and the current Corona pandemic and its aftermath show that such developments are becoming more frequent. Their catastrophic effects are a threat to all humanity. These crises make it increasingly clear that the neoliberal world and economic system is neither suitable for the present or the future.
The European Attac Network demands that the following 21 measures be taken to deal with Covid-19 and the economic and political crisis it has triggered.
In the short and long term, we demand:
Public services that are the wealth of those who have nothing.
1. emergency plan for access to health care for all
Constant budget cuts and a profit-driven logic have led to cutbacks in public spending. This has resulted in public hospitals that are understaffed and under-equipped. They were therefore unable to cope with the number of additional patients infected with the virus. Investing in this public service is a way for our societies to protect themselves against the risk of extraordinary health crises. This may not be so extraordinary.
Short-term economic principles such as maximizing bed occupancy rates and just-in-time care cannot apply to the healthcare sector. Such a neoliberal approach already kills under normal conditions; it kills in this situation even more so.
- A very large number of health workers and nurses need to be hired and their wages increased.
- Tens of thousands of beds in hospitals and nursing homes must be provided with the emphasis on the public sector supplying the
public rather than private homes.
- Massive purchases of medical equipment should be made.
- Equipment, tests, and drugs must be manufactured locally.
- The huge private conglomerates of the pharmaceutical industry must be broken up and patents on vital medicines banned.
2. public research of high quality for all
Health and human life must take priority over profit.
High quality public research is necessary if we are to address the next health crisis:
- The logic in funding research must shift from the short-term to the long term.
- Research must be funded in time to prevent future health crises.
- Public jobs must be created at all public universities and research centers
- The resources needed to conduct research under appropriate conditions must be provided.
Securing and extending democracy
3. absolute respect for labor law
Similar to the Italian government, European governments must also involve the representatives of the trade unions in order to reach collective and consensual agreements on which industries should be stopped and which should continue to operate.
This is to ensure that the basic needs of the population are met.
Until such an agreement is reached, workers should have the right not to work if they feel that not all measures have been taken to protect them from contagion. Any reprimand must be prohibited. In addition, emergency measures must not be allowed to regress in terms of social and economic rights, such as an extension of legal working hours.
4 Absolute respect for fundamental rights
The health crisis must in no way justify measures that violate fundamental rights and freedoms.
Respect for privacy must be guaranteed, and governments must make all decision-making processes transparent.
Any measures taken in an emergency situation must be proportionate, aimed at the satisfaction of basic needs for all, and be strictly limited in time.
The temptation of electronic surveillance must be resisted. An effective implementation of the curfew must never include the use of force against the most vulnerable people (homeless or migrants).
5. protection and extension of democratic rights after the crisis.
The current emergency restriction measures must not be allowed to lead to a curtailment of democratic rights.
After the crisis, democratic rights must be extended to the economic sphere: to democratically decide on clear rights, e.g., how we live
and what we want to produce.
It is outrageous that Amazon has been allowed to continue its operations as usual, when small businesses were forcibly shut down. We must end the impunity of multinational corporations, abolish private courts for settling disputes between investors and states, and repeal so-called free trade agreements.
Equality and protection of the most vulnerable
6. guaranteed incomes for all workers, the unemployed, small businesses and artists.
The COVID-19 crisis will hit our economies hard. All necessary measures to prevent a social crisis must be taken immediately.
Layoffs must be banned until further notice and a minimum income must be guaranteed for all.
Governments should help companies with cash flow problems (i.e., self-employed, small and medium-sized enterprises) to cope with reductions in working hours or the complete cessation of their operations. However, assistance to private enterprises should be strictly conditional. It should be loans or government participation in companies.
7. immediate confiscation of all vacant housing.
No one should be forced to live the forced in unsanitary housing or, worse, on the streets.
- The confiscation of vacant housing has always been a demand of our network; it is more urgent than ever.
- At the same time, a moratorium on the payment of rents must be introduced for tenants who cannot pay their rents.
8. protection of persons exposed to domestic violence.
Being banned from going out, especially when experienced in small shelters, means that incarcerated people live in an unrelenting state of stress. This can cause depression and exacerbate domestic violence, often against children and women. This needs to be remedied as soon as possible. Protecting them is a matter of great urgency. Children and women are already dying. The capacity of shelters and care centers must be increased.
9. help for young people
Learning deficits identified by teachers must be immediately addressed through personalized support. Those currently without jobs, such as artists, could be hired and paid correctly. During curfew periods, computer equipment and other necessary tools must be provided.
10. residence rights for migrants
Migrants who are denied basic rights on the grounds that they are illegally in our country are unable to follow sanitary measures. This is unacceptable.
The recent decision by the Portuguese government shows that it is possible to grant large-scale residence. All governments should follow their example and ensure that everyone, regardless of nationality, can take all the necessary measures to protect themselves from the virus. All camps in Greece must be closed immediately. Just as has been done for tourists, migrants must be brought to cities in Europe that have committed to receive them in solidarity.
11. establish tax justice
Covid-19 has made it clear that our societies have a great need for high quality public services. These come at a price.
Therefore, tax systems must be redesigned so that the richest contribute in proportion to their wealth.
The tax cuts introduced in recent decades must be repealed, and taxation must once again be made truly progressive and include both wealth and income.
Governments need to work together effectively to eliminate tax havens and stop the race to the bottom of tax rates for the richest and transnational corporations.
12. taxation of profits and wealth
Take the necessary measures to support companies that are facing a drastic decline or even cessation of their activities, as well as with the recession related to the COVID-19 crisis that puts a strain on tax revenues. Meanwhile, some companies are making extraordinary profits (Amazon, Netflix...). Taxes on their profits must be introduced, so that the governments' expenditures are not covered by further borrowing on the financial markets. Solidarity is required from everyone and should also include these companies.
13. ban on the distribution of dividends
The costs of the crisis must be paid out of large private fortunes and through the taxation of speculative capital on the financial markets. The billions of euros in dividends that companies will have to pay to their shareholders on the basis of profits generated in 2019 must not be distributed. Instead, these funds must be used to tackle the crisis.
Banks and financial markets in the EU and Europe
14. loans from central banks to governments at a zero-interest rate.
Central banks and public banks must lend money directly to national and local government so that they can finance emergency programs. These loans must be made at zero or near-zero interest rates. Government debt must not be an opportunity for speculation by financial markets, as was the case after the 2008 crisis.
Measures must be taken against speculation on public debt.
In addition, the EU Stability, Coordination and Governance Pact must be repealed once and for all.
15 Control of capital flows
The COVID-19 crisis must not be used by financial markets to speculate. Entire economies that have already been made more vulnerable by the crisis must not be destabilized. Speculative transactions and shadow banks must be banned. Now more than ever, it is time to implement the tax on financial transactions agreed by ten European governments, as well as the tax on currency transactions, which was the starting point of our association.
16. Break up and socialize the largest banks.
Some banks pose a systemic risk to the economy: Their failure would destabilize the banking system internationally. These banks, which are "too big to fail," need to be unbundled and socialized. Despite the resistance of the European banking lobby, proprietary trading and commercial activities must be separated.
17 A coordinated response at the European level
Solidarity among European countries can only be ensured if the response of governments is not determined by the interests of the companies in the economically stronger countries.
- The EU budget must be increased and used to support the most affected countries.
- Money, as well as medical equipment, must be shared between neighboring countries.
Solidarity between hospitals must not be restricted by national interests.
- Basically, the foundation of integration within the EU must be revised.
It must be based on social premises and not on the ideology of the free market, free trade and free competition.
18 International solidarity
The humanitarian, social and economic consequences of the pandemic will be particularly severe for poorer countries.
To support and protect the world's most vulnerable people, substantial support should be mobilized worldwide.
The support for the global South should be in the form of direct aid and not in the form of loans with neoliberal conditionalities.
Public debt should be eliminated so that countries can focus their resources on addressing the health crisis.
ISDS and other unfair trade measures must be stopped, and patents for vaccines and life-saving medicines must be banned.
Environmental and social transformation
19. shift public subsidies away from polluting industries to support a social and environmental transformation.
Financial support for airline, fossil fuel and chemical companies must be suspended or conditioned on their shifting to social and environmental production.
The socialization of these companies should be considered, and in all cases, workers' rights must be guaranteed.
Massive programs of vocational training or retraining must begin.
Governments are coming to the rescue now. Government intervention cannot allow everything to return to the conditions that allowed the worst of this crisis to happen in the first place, especially after all the deprivations of the population.
20. a monetary policy that serves the real economy and change
The European Central Bank (ECB) must finance governments directly and not through private banks. It has announced that it will buy 750 billion euros in assets to support the economy. Banks and financial markets must not be allowed to use this money to continue financing polluting and harmful industries or to create speculative bubbles.
Just as governments tie "aid" to environmental and social transformation goals, central banks must also impose conditions in return for their support.
21. shifting production on a basis of solidarity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed an unacceptable lack of autonomy in strategic productions such as medicine or food revealed. The extreme internationalization of supply chains has made our societies more vulnerable in situations like the current crisis.
- The backward relocation of important productions requires that we abolish the current
EU free trade rules.
- We must support local and smallholder agriculture with limited use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, in contrast to current agro-industrial practices, which not only destroy soils and biodiversity, but also increase pollution and thus the spread of disease.
- People must decide how they want to live and what they want to produce in a fair ecological exchange that respects the interests of all people.
This would also reverse the logic of competition between countries which is based on lowering labor costs, and promote ecological goals such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions promoted.
Overall, we need a social-ecological transformation strategy for Europe.
European Attac Network, 4/14/2020
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