European Network for Public Services * Réseau Européen pour les Services Publics * Red europea por los Servicios Publicos * Rete Europea per i Servizi Pubblici * Europäisches Netzwerk für Öffentliche Dienste

ESF Malmö 2008, September 21st: Hands off our common welfare!

Following the Athens statement at the ESF 2006 that has seen the creation of the European Network for Public Services, We, citizens, members of trade unions, non governmental organisations and local authorities gathered in the fifth European Social Forum in Malmö, declare:

- We observe that European policies carry on attacking common welfare and public services through liberalisation and privatisation, creating more precariousness and unfairness within EU and in candidate countries. These policies undermine democracy, denying the rights of the citizens to participate and control public services. We denounce the corporate driven agenda of EU which benefits to trans-national companies instead of general interest. The crisis currently sweeping over the world is showing, more than ever, the dire consequences of neoliberal policies. 

-    This offensive on public services shows its ineffectiveness for the users, including migrants: Prices are going up, quality and access are going down. Territorial and social inequalities are deepened. Furthermore, workers’labour rights are threatened as they are considered as barriers to competition.

-    We denounce the position of the European Commission and national governments which stalled on adopting a framework directive in spite of a large mobilisation gathering trade unions, political parties and citizens.

-    In spite of the failure of the Doha round and GATS negotiations in the WTO, the European Union goes on exporting its neoliberal views under the “Global Europe” strategy which is a threat for non EU countries,  as it creates unfair trade “partnerships” via bilateral trade agreements. This strategy also affects European citizens by furthering deregulation and undermining social rights within the EU.

-    Facing the climate crisis emergency, the extension of public services should be a tool to link the struggles for a public control on services with the struggles of environmental movements. Public services are an efficient means to control the use of natural ressources, energy at the first place. For these reasons the mobilisations on climate change in December 2009 in Copenhagen give us the opportunity to build bridges and new alliances between trade unions, NGOs, associations and people promoting new strategies.

We are convinced that a large coalition is possible between trade unions, NGO’s, political parties and citizens’ organisations in every country and on a European level. Democratizing public services is a corner stone of an inclusive European Social Model.

For these reasons:

  • We call for a mobilisation on the common welfare issue, to coordinate our struggles at the European level, specifically addressing the European institutions.
  • We propose to organize an event before the European elections, bringing up the common welfare at the core of the debate on social Europe. We take the commitment to challenge MEPs programs on common welfare by all means, including a questionnaire.
  • We support and promote information campaigns to defend, improve and democratize public services, bringing an assessment about the inefficiency of privatisation policies regarding prices and quality of services as well as employment.
  • We support the local and global struggles against privatisation and its effects. Today we support the struggles for their dignity of the workers of Alitalia and express our solidarity to the workers of Olympic Airlines. We also salute the campaign of Leipzig’s citizens to defend their public services by asking for a referendum.


The ESF Repression Network co-organized and/or supported the following 5 seminars:

  1. War on Terrorism and Human Rights
  2. Freedom struggle is not terrorism
  3. Preventive Repression in Europe – The EU’s security policy
  4. Political prisoners and rigged trials – strategies for justice and freedom
  5. The criminalization and repression of social movements
  6. Freedom of movement against EU border regime (seminar organized by the ESF Migration Network with the support of the ESF Repression Network)

More than 500 people attended these seminars. We had very interesting discussions about the present and the planned repression and surveillance measures and how to oppose them.

We have seen that there’s a huge variety in such measures. Small groups actively supporting liberation movements, which are banned by the Black Lists, are as well persecuted as large social movements like the one against the G8 in Genoa and Rostock. The ruling classes use their “anti-terrorist” legislation to spy and put under surveillance the radical left in whole cities.
In several countries the cameras at and the hidden microphones in the houses as well as phone and e-mail tapping of large numbers of alleged opponents to the policies of the ones in power have become daily phenomenons. Show trials and faked proofs serve to mislead the public. Political prisoners are held in isolation and kept imprisoned for many decades and even when they are heavily ill (e.g. in Turkey and the Basque Country).

We will strengthen our efforts to oppose these repression measures. We believe that an increased cooperation in the European frame to coordinate such opposition is necessary and possible. In respect of this we issued the following


In the last decade social movements resist more and more against the neo-liberal globalization. Therefore also European governments increasingly use internal security and (anti-)terrorist frameworks to crack down on such movements.

At the same time imperialism uses terror lists and the (anti-) terrorist legislation to weaken and liquidate liberation movements, left wing organizations and solidarity groups.

In the seminars organized and supported by the ESF Repression Network we discussed how to oppose this repression and how to improve our cooperation within Europe. And we also see that more and more people in other ESF seminars discuss the repression measures their social movements are confronted with (e.g. climate, migration etc.).

ESF Repression Network
Network for Political and Social Rights, Greece

Joint statement from the three Trade Union seminars on the ECJ judgments on Laval, Viking, Rüffert and Luxemburg cases at the ESF in Malmö 21 September 2008.

Urgent Call for Mobilizations to Strengthen Workers Rights in Europe

With the judgments in the Laval, Viking, Rüffert and Luxemburg cases the European Court of Justice has struck an unprecedented blow to workers rights in Europe. The message from the judges of the Court is, that rights that have been obtained through long and often costly struggles in the EU member states, should be curtailed to comply with the so called “economic freedoms”. This is unacceptable.

Though the judgments deal with circumstances in four particular member states, they represent an attack not only on workers rights in the countries concerned, but on the whole trade union movement in Europe. We therefore urge trade unions and social movements in all of Europe to immediately launch a struggle to annul all effects of the judgments detrimental to trade unions.

Though some steps can be taken nationally and locally to avoid some potential damages from the judgments, a real long term solution can only be achieved at the European level by changing European law, and by securing workers rights from being subordinated to the economic freedoms so central in the EU treaty.

To this end, a decisive and urgent step is to call for specific changes in the Posting of Workers Directive to restore the directive to its status of a minimum harmonization directive allowing for a higher protection of workers, and a directive that in all respects would ensure equal pay for equal work.

In addition to this, we strongly support the proposal from the ETUC for a legally binding “social progress clause” to be added to the EU treaty. A clause which would subordinate the economic freedoms to social rights and workers’ rights.

As for these demands, the current crisis of the Lisbon Treaty after the Irish No, represents an opportunity. Since the future fundamental rules guiding the European Union are still to be decided on, trade unions and social movements must put workers rights in the centre of debate. This will only happen if major mobilization takes place. Four proposals stand out at the moment:

  • We support the Swedish trade unions’ demand of a stop of the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in the Swedish Parliament until this matter is fully resolved, and we urge them to mobilize for a demonstration before the debate in Parliament. We urge trade unions in other European countries to support such an effort.
  • We call on trade unions and social movements to join the demonstrations for decent work, organized by the international trade union movement on the 7th of October, and to ensure that the judgments of the court and the attack on workers rights they represent, is manifestly present in the demonstrations.
  • We call on all trade unions affiliated to the ETUC, to urge the ETUC to call for a demonstration in Brussels on the occasion of the meeting of the European Council in December.
  • We urge the European industrial trade union confederations to take a lead in the co-ordination of this struggle in Europe, including the use of the ratification process of the Lisbon Treaty as leverage for a social progressive clause.

Agreed upon by representatives of European, National and Local Trade Unions and Social Movements.

2009: To Change Europe

On the European level, we are witnessing a liberal and anti-social front on all domains: economic financial crisis, price increases, food borne illness crisis, privatization and disassembly of public services, movements against work reform, decisions of the European Court of Justice, dismantling of the Common Agricultural Policy, reinforcement of Fortress Europe against migrants, weakening of democratic and civil rights and growing repression, economic cooperation agreements, military intervention in external conflicts, military bases… all this in a world where inequalities, poverty and  global and permanent war are increasing day by day.
In this context of global crisis, we want to reaffirm that alternatives do exist for global justice, peace, democracy and environment.

We, the European social movements gathering in Malmö, have committed on a common agenda in the way to lead the fight for "another Europe" and Europe based on the people’s rights.

1) on the social issue:
We launch immediately a COMMON EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN against UE social and labour policies, first to oppose specifically the EU directive on working time and UE decision on migrant labour.
This campaign will have different steps (ex: December the 6th in Paris) and includes the objective of a massive joint mobilization at European level as soon as possible.
As a second step, we build up a large, inclusive and strategic conference/counter-summit of all the European social movement, in Brussels in March.

2) against NATO and war:
we call  a large demonstration in April the 4th in Strasbourg/Khiel, centre of celebration of the 60th anniversary of NATO, to say “stop NATO” and dissolving this terrifying tool of war. In the same day we call demonstrations in all countries in Europe. We propose the WSF in Belem to declare the 4th of April a day of international mobilisation against Nato.

3) against the climate crisis:
We call for a global day of action on climate on December 6th during the Poznan summit in Poznan itself and al other the world. We are calling for a massive international mobilisation next year to make the critical Kopenhagen talks in December 2009.

4) against G8:
In July 2009, the Sardinian and Italian social movement will invite all movements to come to Sardegna where the G8 summit will be held in la Maddalena island to protest against G8 and its policies and to present our alternatives for global justice, peace, democracy and environment.

There are also many initiatives coming from the different networks, assemblies, and collectives.


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