Toward an European [Social and Citizens Movements] Common Space for Alternatives

Paris face-to-face meeting, 28 & 29th August 2023

While we have a large number of thematic networks in Europe, we no longer have a common space for all the social and citizens’ movements that would enable us to share our experiences and challenges and develop joint initiatives and mobilisations. 

Today, throughout Europe, we have a flowering of mobilisations and social experiments that are exciting and enriching. In Spain, women’s strikes and mobilisations have changed society and led to the adoption of particularly progressive laws. In France, millions of demonstrators defended their right to a pension and a high-level social model. In Zagreb, Croatia, a team of ecologists and alternative activists won a majority in the municipal elections and are transforming public space and defending the principles of the “Right to the City”. In Berlin…

At the same time, we are facing major and often dramatic challenges in Europe. The Mediterranean has become a graveyard for thousands of migrants seeking asylum and a better life. In Ukraine, the Russian invasion has triggered one of the bloodiest wars this continent has seen since the 2nd World War. Global warming is already having catastrophic effects, with increasing numbers of forest fires, floods and heat waves affecting human populations and all ecosystems. The cost of living is rising rapidly and threatening the living conditions of the majority of the population, to mention just a few of these challenges.

Over the last two years, numerous meetings and conferences have provided an opportunity to discuss this absence and to make a modest attempt to rebuild this common space. We intend to bring together more people from diverse origins and backgrounds to the understanding of a caring society.

Today, we want to propose a new step by meeting us in the run-up to the European Union elections in June 2024.This broad encounter, in the spring of next year, will have a main topic : “In front of the far right, we need a social, feminist, antiracist, ecological and democratic Europe”. It will be organised in a bottom-up approach, giving to all of us the possibility to express ourself and organise discussions and actions. We’ll share our dreams and transformative ideas with empathy.

On these bases, we propose to open debates within four “containers” in which to pour out our challenging and performative ideas in a double strategy: analysing the current situation and proposing alternatives.

Container 1: There is no Planet B

[originally meant to discuss war and climate change as main threats of our time]

– “Given the urgency and taking into account the current balance of power, what can be done in order to stop war and climate change?” or: “Given the urgency, what can be done in order to stop war and climate change?”

– “How do we get the majority of the population on our side, against those who advocate the inevitability of war or deny climate change, supporting the fossil system?”

– “How do we explore the worldmaking possibilities of various alternatives?”

or (separating War and Climate Justice):

– “How do we tilt the balance of forces in society on both national and European levels to be able to strengthen the communities that are building climate justice and address the conflicts of just energy transition?”

– “Given the current balances of power, what can be done in order to stop war and the possibility of war in the short and long term?”

– “What can we do in solidarity with peoples around the world resisting war and authoritarianism?”

Container 2: People First

[originally people first, not profit]

– “How can we reach the many who are not in our assemblies and demonstrations? How can we get on our side the large part of the population who put profits before people, against their own interest?” or “How do we reach the many who are not taking part in mobilisations?”

– “How can we challenge the ‘appeal’ of the current system, a system which puts profits and unlimited growth first?”

– “How do we imagine the welfare of the future? And how can we make ‘popular’ our solutions (degrowth, commoning, fair trade etc) often regarded as ‘niched’ solutions?” or “How do we imagine welfare in the future, being a structural pillar of society? And how the agenda of the common good (degrowth, commoning, fair trade etc) can be at the center of mobilisations?”

Container 3: System Error: Democracy in Dispute

[originally, far right and democracy under threat]

– “How can we defeat the far-right?” or “How can we defeat the far-right in Europe and the world?”

– “How can we involve the many people who are affected by the social and ecological crises of our time, by war, by the precariousness of work, by the high cost of living but still remain closed in resentment and angry solitude, which is a breeding ground of the right?”

– “What is needed to build a counter-hegemony both to neoliberalism and to the false anti-system alternatives embodied by the xenophobic and neonationalist right?”

or “How do we regain hegemony for ‘all rights for all’, when many people follow the far-right narratives claiming that excluding the more vulnerable will make rights better accessible to the so-called ‘like us’?”

Container 4*: An Injury to One is an Injury to All*

[originally, transversal actions and convergences]

*  In case of elimination of this 4th container, the question(s) about the actions can be spread in the other 3 containers….

– “What can be done together in order to have an impact? What common actions and what strategy do we need?”

or “What actions and what strategy do we need for the diversity of our mobilisations to contribute to a common perspective?”

– “Having the best analysis and the right solutions to the current multiple crises is not enough: how can we be effective? How can we have an impact and change the balance of power?”

– “Which are the lessons that can be learned from mobilizations and actions that have taken place in Europe in the last years?”

or “Relying on the mobilizations and actions that take place in Europe, how can we exchange on the opportunities and the difficulties met, and better build the agenda for possible convergencies?”

– “How can we build alliances involving social actors who are not yet with us? How to reach and involve the majority of the population?”


Spring 2024 conference, methodology

The methodology of this event must enable us to meet the political objectives we have chosen.

It will therefore combine :

In practical terms, we could

A possible outline of the event could thus be: