Meeting of European Left Parties<br />PCP Press Release

On September 5th, a meeting of European Communist and other Left parties took place in Almada (Capuchos Convent), hosted by the Portuguese Communist Party, under the motto “The Social issue, the Left and the present European moment”. Present at the meeting were Germany's Party of Democratic Socialism, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, AKEL – Progressive Party of the Working People, the Communist Party of Slovakia, Spain's United Left, the French Communist Party, the Communist Party of Greece, Italy's Communist Refoundation Party, the Party of Italian Communists, the Swiss Party of Labour and the Portuguese Communist Party. 2. The exchange of information and experiences highlighted that, in the broader context of the neoliberal capitalist globalisation process, the European Union and other European countries are undergoing a vast anti-social offensive with the systematic dismantling of gains and rights obtained through decades of hard struggle.It also highlighted the large-scale resistance against that offensive as well as the trade union and popular struggles that have taken place in virtually every country of the continent, particularly general strikes, demonstrations, rallies and politically relevant large scale national mobilisations. New actions of struggle have already been announced. The trend is one of increasingly acute social conflicts. The Parties attending this meeting, deeply engaged in the protection of the interest and yearnings of those who work and fight for a Social Europe worthy of that name, warmly greeted and praised the on-going struggles and will contribute to further develop them, considering it important to co-operate in promoting common or converging actions, emphasize internationalist solidarity and the European dimension of struggles. 3. The debate confirmed that the workers are the first victims of the unbridled economic war among the large multinational economic groups and big imperialist powers.In the name of “modernisation” and “competitiveness”, right-wing or social-democratic governments are trying to impose at all cost counter-reforms inherent to the Stability Pact and guided by criteria of capitalist profitability, which always entail devaluing the labour force, weakening trade union rights, impoverishing democracy and benefiting capital's exploitation. The cost of economic stagnation and recession, militarism and war is systematically paid for by the workers, the farmers and small and medium size entrepreneurs, and by the weaker strata of society like immigrants, the elderly and the youth. Women's rights are suffering a serious regression. Injustice, inequality and social discrimination are increasing. Environmental problems take on a worldwide dimension. The anti-social offensive, systematically aimed at cutting down direct and indirect labour costs, is widespread, despite national variations: precarious employment; deregulation of the labour market; longer working hours and longer periods of pension deductions; a freeze and reduction of real wages; attack on social welfare and on pensions systems; counter-reform in the Public Administration; dismantling of the public health systems; attack on public education; tax policies that hit harder against labour and small and medium employers.Privatisation, company delocations and the dismantling of the State's social functions, are strongly responsible for today's high unemployment figures. Full employment and the right to work are openly denied. Historic achievements in labour legislation are being systematically destroyed, collective bargaining is undermined and trade union rights are attacked with the aim of reinstating capital's arbitrary power in the organisation of industrial relations. The State is dispossessed of its services of general interest and anything that may look profitable is handed over to the private sector. There is a real threat that mercantilism may take possession of all spheres of social life. All of this depicts an enormous social regression of civilization proportions. The need to find left-wing alternatives was underlined, alternatives linked to the workers' interests with a clear demarcation from a social-democracy that has surrendered to neoliberal dogmas; to fight for policies that courageously confront the prevailing capitalist logic of growing centralisation and concentration of capital and wealth, the unchallenged power of big economic groups as well as the IMF, WB, OECD and WTO policies and their disastrous social consequences for the whole world. The question of the European Union, particularly the issues connected with the enlargement, the process of Treaty reviews and the forthcoming Inter-Governmental Conference, were the subject of an extensive exchange of views. Particular reference was made to the importance of fighting for the review of the Stability Pact, and to counter the “Lisbon strategy”. Also mentioned was the relevance of the forthcoming European Social Forum in Paris and Seine Saint-Denis and the desire to contribute to its success. It was underlined the importance of strengthening their co-operation, also with other left forces, in the struggle for a different Europe, a social Europe, of peace, progress and co-operation; their readiness to consider organising common or converging actions, namely on the more relevant labour and social issues - notably against unemployment, against the dismantling of the social protection systems -, on the Inter-Governmental Conference and on the forthcoming European Parliament elections. Positive references were made to the co-operation in the 1999 elections and to the activity developed by the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left in the EP and to the importance of continuing and strengthening that experience. Participants underlined that the anti-social offensive is accompanied by attacks against trade union rights and freedoms as well as against other democratic rights, representing a serious impoverishment of democracy. This is equally inseparable from the strategies of imperialist aggression and war that are absorbing colossal resources to the benefit of the big trusts linked to the arms industry. Therefore, the struggle for equitable and fair social policies is closely connected to the struggle against militarism and war, for disarmament and for peace. Confirming the strong condemnation of the war of occupation in Iraq that is part of the US world-wide hegemonic project, the participants also declared their opposition to the European Union process of militarisation, and highlighted the need to continue building up a powerful peace movement.

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