Declaration of the Leaders of the Young European Socialists

We are a generation of many challenges. Leaders of socialist youth organisations from all over Europe, we are gathered for the first time officially for many years to say that our generation deserves a future and we are ready to stand up for it.

The European project which we are set to inherit is facing the biggest crisis of its history.

Skyrocketting unemployment rates and the absence of positive prospects, mainly resulting of austerity policies, generate widespread and deepening rejection among young people of our current political and economic system. Many are turning to apathy, others to right-wing radicalisation – whether Islamist or nationalist. Meanwhile our calls for policies that would value human lives more than deficit rates have remained unheard since the 2008 financial crisis.

But we do not resolve to letting the European project fade away and the world becoming an increasingly violent place every day that passes. We do not resolve to witnessing hundreds of deaths in the Mediterranean and the rise of the far right in our countries. We do not resolve to accepting that on the richest continent of the planet 25 million people are unemployed and 100 million live in poverty, many of whom are children. We do not resolve to seeing our planet destroyed by the obsession of productivism.

We decided to get involved in left wing politics, like hundred thousands of young people because we want to give democracy a meaning again for our generation. We want Europe to retrieve its positive sense for citizens on our continent. We want young people to feel like their vote can make a difference to their lives.

We know that Europe needs more socialism, not less. We are convinced that the solution to the dramatic state of European integration is more social and economic cooperation, more solidarity and equality, more regulation of the economy, not less.

But as much as we believe our solutions are the most appropriate ones, we can only admit our political family is not doing well. In most European countries we are losing election after election, increasingly accepting to govern with the right even though we reject their values and policies. We need to end this vicious circle which is contributing to the hegemony of right wing ideas in society. On the opposite, we want stronger and more distinct positions from social-democratic and socialist parties to stand up for values of solidarity, equality and democracy. We call on our leaders to seek progressive cooperation rather than grand coalition strategies. We ask them to follow the example of Portugal in building cooperation with other progressive organisations, to create a new dynamic for left wing policies in European countries and the European Union.

We have energy, determination and ideas. We want to save the European left and here are our 5 pleas to achieve it.

  1. Giving our future the financial means it deserves – end austerity policies!  

Investing in our citizens’ safety does not only require police and military action. It also requires investing in education and people’s access to culture, it requires allowing our generation to find proper jobs and to have perspectives : to do this, we need to end austerity policies and side with governments which are pursuing the same goal. Europe’s current economic policies need to change urgently. They seek to cut wages and services for ordinary citizens while pouring cheap money into banks and turning European citizens against each other. This approach is unequal, incoherent, unsustainable and ineffective. European and Eurozone level policies must be changed to allow the real possibility for reflationary action in the economy, and greater equality between European citizens.

There must be a dramatic reorientation of Europe’s economic approach, built primarily around proactive government and EU policies that invest in the real economy and public services, and that aim for full employment and pursue the principles of economic democracy.

Europe needs a budget to invest in our future. We are thus concerned by the continued failure of European leaders to reach an agreement on a Financial Transactions Tax and call for measures which will bring about its immediate implementation.

Our future is not for free! In 2016 YES and YES member-organisations will launch a European-wide campaign to demand the means necessary to give our generation a positive future. We will advocate for immediate implementation of the financial transaction tax which has been discussed for too long now, and for common taxation of corporate benefits in order to tackle tax avoidance and evasion. It is completely unfair some major companies avoid contributing their fair share to society. If finance is organised on a European level, activists, workers and all those with a stake in the current system should become truly organised at that level too and we want to do our share.

  1. Showing international solidarity in acts:
    The threat and reality of terrorism in Europe reinforces more than ever the interconnection between Europe and the rest of the world. Europe must acknowledge the huge mistakes that have been made on a geopolitical level over the past 15 years and they are doing today. Human rights, peace and freedoms are fundamental values of Social democracy and needs to be protected everywhere for everyone. Only recognition of this fact and an approach that emphasises real and substantive international solidarity and coordination can solve the crises the world is currently facing.

European policies have helped produce the current situation in many different ways. The trade, taxation and insufficient and misplaced development policies of northern countries continue to contribute to the international economic inequality that is the root cause of these crises.

Northern countries’ geopolitical relations exacerbate the threat of terrorism, whether through interventions especially in Iraq, links with dictatorships, oil dependency or the arms trade. We need to address these issues if we hope to put an end or even to put brakes on the rise of terrorism in the world and in Europe.

An approach which treats Europe as a distinct and separate entity, not really affecting or affected by those outside it, no longer makes sense in practice, if it ever did. As Kofi Annan said, “what starts by the failure to respect one life’s dignity very often ends in a disaster for entire nations.”

In the last few months people of every culture and religion have been targeted by ISIS. This should be a factor that unites us, not divides, and makes us aware of the implications of a world where even terror is globalised. Development and trade policies must aim first and foremost at improving people’s lives by promoting a fair wealth distribution, the development of education and health infrastructures. We urgently need to question the premises of free trade agreements based on liberalisation of markets and “structural reforms”, which have so far generated more inequalities and instability in southern countries. As socialists and internationalists, it is our responsibility to support and help democratic and progressive forces in the world.

  1. Acting for equality to be reality in Europe:
    We must make Europe a decent, equal and caring place for all those who live here and seek shelter here. We demand a common asylum and migration policy that puts an end to the deadly chaos of the current situation and introduces more safe and legal routes for refugees. We call upon all member states to take their responsibility by hosting more refugees in order to help the countries faced by massive arrivals, and to reject the path of closing borders, which seems to be taken by some governments.

The Paris attacks have revealed our own weaknesses : in our countries more and more young people turn against our society. There will be no safety as long as long as we allow the marginalisation of part of our population. Ghettoisation is alienating members of our communities and is the ground in which violence can be born and grow. We commit ourselves to relentlessly fighting for equality and against discriminations in our countries, refusing all forms of racism, guaranteeing the right to believe and not to believe in any kind of god. We call on European leaders to pursue policies which tackle the problem of socio-economic and ethnic ghettos.

We call for full enforcement of the Charter of fundamental rights of the EU, if necessary through specific and binding EU legislation.

  1. Harmonising socially to make Europe positive for citizens:
    The European Union has be a force that makes life better, not worse, for its citizens. A system which promotes the harmonisation of market and monetary standards cannot justify or sustain itself without similar harmonisation of social, political and fiscal standards. Events in Greece over the summer showed that it is simply not an option to allow the Eurozone to continue as it is. Without change, genuine social-democratic societies within the Eurozone will be impossible. There must be fiscal and social harmonisation as well as economic coordination – Eurobonds, fiscal transfers between member states, and a Eurozone Parliament to bring about a real budget for the EU.

We want to put an end to social dumping through progressive harmonisation of minimum wage standards according to countries’ purchasing power. While more and more people feel they have lost power over their destiny, corporate power over democracies should be reduced, not increased. For that reason we oppose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – which dramatically lacks transparency, introduces private justice and threatens to undermine European social, environmental and health standards and democratic sovereignty. Corporations should be accountable to democracy, not the other way round.

  1. Changing the system to save the climate :
    Climate change will make the disorders of the world even worse.  As young people, we feel its danger especially profoundly. It is a question of survival for us and the next generations. The creation of climate refugees, already evident in the origins of Syrian crisis, generates instability in many different regions of the world.

Tackling climate change requires rethinking of our entire economic system and development model. It demands ending our dependency to fossil fuels and our attachment to productivism and shift towards sustainable development of the economy. We need to favour quality of goods over quantity, to act in favour of local and quality farming, to invest massively in renewable energies and green public transports. Creating the jobs we need while preserving the planet should lead us to sharing working time at the European level. We also call for questioning the centrality of GDP growth as an end in itself. We want to focus on quality rather than quantity.

Challenges are high, but through advocacy, building capacity and coordinating membership we believe we can push our ideas and ambitious proposals further. We make it our task for the next months and years to push our ideas through within our political family and beyond. More than ever, we know it is in the interest of young people of Europe and the world.


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