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High Level Progressive Summit in Paris: The hottest day for a political debate

Paris meeting

The air temperature in Paris was 37 degrees centigrade that day and the leaders from the PES family all were wearing their suits. People were boiling under the sun, but there was no time to wait for a more comfortable weather forecast. Europe needed action.
On 25 August, the leaders of the PES met in Paris to discuss the future of Europe, on the initiative of the French President, François Hollande. That is, the future after the Brexit, the future of our welfare states, the future of our open internal borders and how to better manage our external borders. Taking heat is part of the job of a leader.

Also, one of the summit conclusions was: austerity has deeply harmed the European project and it certainly has played into the ‘Brexit’ camp in the UK.

“It definitely has”, says Sergei Stanishev, our president, sliding towards the shadow: “We are here to offer an alternative to the Europe of austerity and cuts. We must take on the responsibility to improve things for ordinary Europeans, especially for those particularly hit by the crisis. Some may think there are no alternatives, but we know there are”.

So what are they? Just some examples: 1) doubling the budget of the Juncker Plan – currently € 315 BN -, to amplify its already positive effects - as Sigmar Gabriel put it on the way out, “The Juncker Plan is just a first step”-, 2) modifying the Stability and Growth Pact to take certain investments out of the deficit calculation, 3) exploring an increase on direct fiscal transfers among the member states, 4) setting up a European or Euro Area unemployment benefit system, to compensate for the effects of structural reforms on the weakest economies.

Overwhelmed? It may be the heat, or maybe you are one of those who secretly bought the idea that there are no alternatives.

The same goes for the management of our external borders. Refugee inflows need to be managed commonly, as do external borders. That’s a precondition to preserve the freedom of movement within the EU. Are we realists or are we utopians? “We are realists defending a dream come true: the freedom of movement of every European within the EU. The leaders have acknowledged that” - says Sergei Stanishev -“We have to create opportunities for the people in Europe and the PES must lobby hard to bring the EU back to its social democratic tradition.”.

A good policy debate for a very warm day. And a useful one.

 

Check the list of participants and the official press release here: http://www.pes.eu/high_level_progressive_summit_in_paris_pes_family_united_in_reviving_europe

 

 

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