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PES Fair Growth conference calls for progressive response to Europe's challenges


12 Oct 2017


Social Europe & Jobs

The economic and societal challenges faced by Europe must be turned in the right direction – a progressive direction – in order to reduce inequality as well as promoting growth. This is the main conclusion of a major PES conference entitled ‘Reinventing the European economy’, at which UN special advisor Jeffrey Sachs was the keynote speaker.

In his address to delegates gathered in Brussels, Mr Sachs said:

"Social democracy is the beating heart of decency on our planet. It is the only philosophy to realise that we need economic development, we need it to be fair and we need it to be green. The secret to success for social democracy is investment, not cuts — and in that context, public investment has a huge role to play."

Delegates at the conference also discussed ways to achieve greater social convergence through focused investment, closing the gaps between different regions of the EU as well as between women and men across Europe. Globalisation, climate change and technological change were also high on the agenda, all of which offer not only challenges but also opportunities for new, high-quality jobs, sustainable growth and reduced social inequality if progressive responses are adopted.

And reform of the eurozone was raised as a priority, with proposals to democratise economic governance, fight tax avoidance, and integrate social priorities into economic policy-making — not only by proclaiming a European social pillar later this year, but also following up with a much-needed social action plan.

"This will not happen by itself," said PES president Sergei Stanishev.

"We socialists and social democrats are the ones who must take action to bridge inequalities, eliminate injustice, and stand up for ordinary people in an increasingly challenging economic world. Our top priority is for decent jobs with decent remuneration for everyone.

"That’s why we must use all our political power to fight for the European pillar of social rights to be proclaimed by the end of the year – and backed up by a clear action plan to make a tangible difference to people’s lives."

Other speakers at the conference included:

  • Nicolas Schmit, Luxembourg minister, chair of PES social & employment ministers network
  • Ylva Johansson, Sweden minister for employment
  • Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation
  • Susan George, board president, Transnational Institute
  • John Crombez, leader of sp.a Belgium
  • Matthias Fekl, former interior minister, France
  • Kathleen Van Brempt, Vice-President of the S&D Group in the European Parliament
  • Claire Courteille-Mulder, Director ILO Brussels Office
  • Mojca Kleva, President of the Progressiva Foundation
  • Ahmed Laaouej, Member of Parliament, Fraction Leader, PS Belgium
  • Aleš Chmelař, State Secretary for European Affairs, Czech Republic
  • Ivan Lesay, CEO of SZRB Asset Management, Member of the EIB Board of Directors, Slovakia
  • Tuulia Pitkänen, Secretary General, Young European Socialists
  • Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation
  • Anja Kopac Mrak, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Slovenia
  • Robin Huguenot-Noël, Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre (EPC)
  • Maria João Rodrigues, President of FEPS, Vice-President of the S&D Group in the European Parliament
  • Udo Bullmann, Vice-President of the S&D Group in the European Parliament
  • László Andor, former Commissioner for Employment and Social Inclusion
  • Conny Reuter, Secretary General of SOLIDAR

For more information, please contact Toby Wardman, +32 491 86 97 48


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