Fringe-Meeting ENGS at the Congress of the European Green Party (EGP) in Brussels

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ENGS at the Congress of the European Green Party (EGP) in Brussels

from March 25 to 28, 2009

At the GA of the ENGS on March 25, 2009 representatives from 10 European countries and 11 Green parties were present.

The board was re-elected for three years:

Chairman: Tony Cooreman, Belgium

Vice-chairwoman: Anna Kelles, Finland

Secretary General: Ute Schmitz, Germany

Treasurer: Tom van der Wal, Netherlands

Further members: Lucille Ryan O’Shea, Ireland

Birgit Meinhard Schiebel, Austria

Hans Beat Schaffner, Switzerland

ENGS on March 26, 2009 organized a fringe meeting at the EGP Congress under the title: “Against the growing liberalization of social services”. 27 participants discussed the contributions of Philine Scholze and Staniforth Grudzielski..

ENGS in its maifesto declines social services as a “commodity” in a liberalized market economy and demands legal protection for such services instead.

There was full agreement in the fringe meeting that affordable, discussable, continuous and sustainable services should be offered which are on a legal basis. These services are destined for for the protection of especially elderly and/or poor people.

Philine Scholze, responsible for social affairs of the Greens in the EU parliament, stressed that the social services should be defined and that care must be taken that they actually reach the people concerned.

It must be ensured that the Europe-wide competition in this area  does not harm  the local services (i.e. reduce the existing high standards) or even eliminate them.

Stany Grudzielski, adviser for consumer rights, stressed that the EU directives for these services are formulated too vague and broad. This topic is very complex and every service sector has its own special character which is important.

The public administration has an important regulatory function for these services. The general interest of the social services must be more important than a market-based competition. Countries with a high standard in their social services should be able to maintain them  and countries with low standards should be granted the possibilty to improve them.

Anita Kelles, vice-chairwoman of the ENGS, described the situation of the social and public services, that would be affected by the envisaged liberalization, from the perspective of the civil society and of the elderly. Here we deal with basic needs that urgently have to be satisfied. Market laws with competition character that apply e.g. for the Coca Cola company should not be allowed to take over in these areas.

An adequate financing of social services must be guaranteed. We need a wide range of social services that correspond to the actual demands of life and their respective necessary financing.

At the congress of the EGP on March 27, 2009 the new manifesto “New Green Deal” was presented and adopted by all the European Green delegates.

Under the point titled “ Nobody should suffer under the humiliation of poverty” we find the following sentence in which for the first time attention is drawn to the senior citizens and to all generations:

Europe must offer greater stability to people of all ages. Senior citizens must be guaranteed a voice in society, enabling them to actively participate in economic, social and civic life. This implies guaranteeing sound pensions. Communizy-based services must exist to address the individual needs of the frail and vulnerable. Young people must have access to more secure jobs and better access to education, training and housing.

The following further points are defined in the manifesto for a New Green Deal:

–       Solutions for a sustainable ecology, economy and social policy

–       A Europe that that takes over responsibility for our earth

–       A revolution of our resources

–       A nuclear- and GMO-free Europe

–       Sustainable transport systems

–       Biodiversity and animal protection

–       Long-term prosperity rather than short-term profitabilty

–       Take the leash of finacial markets

–       Massive investements in education and research

–       Enforcements of labour laws

–       Prevention of poverty

–       Fair trade in first place

–       Transparency of digital rights

–       No giving up or weakening of human rights

–       Immigration must remain an option and should not endager those concerned

The EGP engage themselves in the European elections with the slogan:

Think Big – Vote Green

(author: Birgit Meinrad-Schiebel)

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