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The Great Shift - game-changing policy proposals to build sustainable well-being societies


27 Oct 2021


Sustainable Dev.

S&D Group leader Iratxe García and vice-president Eric Andrieu, together with former Danish prime minister and co-chair of the Independent Commission for Sustainable Equality (ICSE) Poul Nyrup Rasmussen today presented the second Progressive Society report The Great Shift at a press conference in the European Parliament.*

The Great Shift sets out 10 game-changing policy proposals, among 242 policy recommendations and concrete actions to transform today’s crisis-ridden societies into sustainable and more equal and fair communities. These policy proposals will feed into the election manifesto of the European Socialists and Democrats for the 2024 elections, as well as into the ongoing legislative work of the S&D Group in the European Parliament. Social democracy is the political force to bring together social and climate justice. Low-income households must not shoulder the costs of the green and digital transitions through job losses, higher prices or taxes. Our ambition is a just transition to a sustainable society, lifting everyone up.

The forward-thinking policy proposals put forward in The Great Shift include reforming the Stability and Growth Pact into a European Pact for Sustainable Well-Being, a biodiversity law to protect plants and animals, a binding European anti-poverty law to eradicate poverty by 2050, an EU net-wealth tax to combat growing inequalities and finance public investment, guaranteeing energy as a basic social right to counteract exploding energy prices, factoring in the carbon footprint of imported goods, a Responsible Capitalism Act to regulate the social and ecological responsibility of companies doing business in the Single Market, as well as Climate Risk Insurance for low-income households in cases of damage caused by climate change.

Iratxe García MEP, leader of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, said:

“As Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, we are daily working on legislation that serves our citizens, but as a political family we also constantly need to look ahead to respond to future challenges. That is why we are devising a thorough strategy to make progress in a co-ordinated way in all policy areas. We need a global vision translated into very concrete proposals in order to move towards a fairer and more sustainable society, based on solidarity. We want to overcome the logic of economic growth to put people at the centre of our political action.

“We now start a reflection process with our parties, our partners, the activists, so that we can co-ordinate our efforts to shape the future of the EU. We continue to live up to the same values of solidarity, equality and social justice, but are ready to face new challenges such as the climate emergency and digitisation. This reflection will inspire and feed our political work during the second half of the parliamentary term and it will contribute to our electoral programme ahead of the 2024 European elections.” 

Eric Andrieu MEP, S&D vice-president in charge of the Progressive Society*, said:

“50 years of capitalism and encroaching neoliberalism have led to wealth accumulation, an increase in global poverty and growing inequalities. This is not acceptable. The multiple crises we are currently living through – the climate, economic, democratic, political, social and environmental crises – cannot be addressed separately. This is why the climate emergency and the analysis of the limits of the capitalist system oblige us to propose an alternative model of society, which puts the value of well-being at its core. We progressives want to change the game by no longer taking GDP as the main measurement of success. For us, it is crucial to change the European and global governance models and develop the concept of sustainable well-being.”

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, co-chair of the ICSE and former Danish Prime Minister, said:

The Great Shift is a lighthouse for European Social Democracy. In the face of history’s big challenges, our political movement has always been at the forefront of the battle. To win a battle, you need a strong army and you need a good strategy. Now that we hold governments in Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Nordic countries and hopefully soon in Germany, we have a window of opportunity to bring about real change and this report provides a roadmap on how to do it. With its 10 policy game-changers and 242 policy recommendations, the Great Shift sets out a roadmap for progressives on how to build a better future.

“Our planet and our people are exposed to multiple, overlapping crises – a global meta-crisis within which economic, social and ecological challenges constantly interact and feed into each other. We know that climate change will hit vulnerable populations much harder than affluent people. Socially blind climate policies would make that worse. As the crises are interlinked, our solutions must be too. We need to define a new model of progress, which focuses on sustainable well-being. The Great Shift sets out 10 policy game-changers and 242 policy recommendations as a roadmap for progressives on how to build a better future.”

Note to the editor:

The political launch of the report will take place on Friday, 12 November in Paris, together with the mayor of Paris and candidate for the presidential elections Anne Hidalgo.

*The Great Shift has been developed as part of the S&D Group’s Progressive Society initiative, which provides the space for our Group to engage with scientific experts and stakeholders on issues relating to the sustainable and just transformation of Europe. The report draws on the insights and knowledge of a group of 22 renowned experts and experienced policymakers, united in the Independent Commission for Sustainable Equality. Led by Spanish deputy prime minister Teresa Ribera and former Danish prime minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, the team has worked together over the course of a year to find solutions to tackle today’s multiple and intertwined global and European crises. The Great Shift is the second report produced by the ICSE. The 2018 report significantly contributed to the 2019 PES election manifesto and the Commission Work Programme.

Read the short version of the The Great Shift report.

Read the full version of the The Great Shift report.

Watch the press conference here