Can Europe Make It?

A call for a new European social contract

Call for a new progressive and democratic front in Europe. A statement of intellectuals and academics on the state of the EU and the need for a new social contract.

Costas Douzinas
29 June 2020
Greta Thunberg urges MEPs to show climate leadership.
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Wikicommons/European Parliament. Some rights reserved.

The last ten years have been traumatic for the European peoples and the Union. Three major crises, the financial and economic, the refugee and now the pandemic, have challenged the well-being, the institutions and the values of the European Union, peace and solidarity. All three have developed in the background of the developing ecological and climate emergency.

The response of the elites to these crises has been inadequate, piecemeal and contingent. The lack of clear and visionary leadership has eroded the trust of Europeans and has led to the rise of the ethnopopulist, xenophobic and eurosceptic right wing threatening the future of the Union.

In the financial crisis, the South was obliged to introduce austerity policies that devastated the social state and economic rights, undermining the dignity of people and the integrity of public services. In the refugee crisis, the value of solidarity was abandoned by leaders who strive for the return of aggressive national sovereignty. In the pandemic, the borders of Fortress Europe are becoming internal borders dividing the North from the South, separating people in this hour of existential risk and undermining the values and ideas upon which Europe is founded.

As the European states prepare their exit from the lockdown, it is time to restate our fundamental values and act on them. Our societies weathered the pandemic by mobilizing public services and the state, foremost the national health systems, and by calling on our rich traditions of solidarity, equality, social justice and humanitarianism. Solidarity, protecting the dignity of all, equal sharing of the benefits and burdens of the Union and democratic renewal should guide the post-pandemic world.

To this end, we call for the creation of a European democratic and progressive front that will revitalize the foundational values of the Union and the trust of its citizens. This front will start a major public debate with the civil societies, political forces, social movements and trade unions of member states and will propose a new pan-European social contract to guide us in the new period. The latter will ensure that the costs of the post-pandemic reconstruction, for saving employment and enterprise will be equitably shared between North and South, the rich and the poor.

The democratic and progressive front will fight to end neoliberal austerity and lessen inequalities, to make permanent the current increases in funding and respect for the health services and public goods, to protect and guarantee employment and labour rights for all citizens, to press for the green reorganization of our economies and societies, finally, to strengthen and deepen the democratic and institutional framework of the Union. We need to increase the powers of the European Parliament, to foster a closer and more active link between it and the national parliaments, as well as strengthen the move towards convergence, against the non-transparent ‘executive federalism’ and national withdrawal that developed as a response to the crises.

We are at a crucial turning point. If Europe returns to its previous economic, social and political dispensation it will fatally undermine its future. Europe will be democratic, progressive, social and green or it will not survive.

Professor Costas Douzinas, Birkbeck, London

Professor Etienne Balibar, Paris

Professor Joanna Bourke, Birkbeck, London

Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Porto

Professor Kalypso Nikolaidis, Oxford University

Professor Steve Smith, Oxford Univerity

Professor Wendy Brown, UC, Berkeley

Professor Zeynep Gambetti, Istanbul

Professor Albena Azmatova, Kent University

Professor Fiona Macmillan, University of London

Professor George Katrougalos, Athens

Professor Lauren Coyle Rosen, Princeton University

Professor Lynne Segal, London University

Professor Teresa Pullano, University of Basel

Professor Michèle Riot-Sarcey, Paris

Professor Anastasia Anagnostopoulou, Athens

Professor Ulrike Guérot, European Democracy Lab

Professor Nikolas Kompridis, University of Toronto

Professor Giacomo Marramao, University of Rome III
Professor Elsa Stamatopooulou, United Nations

Professor Diogo Sardinha, Collège International de Philosophie, Paris

Professor Frieder Snafu, Berlin

Professor Philip Aigrain, Paris

Professor Linda Alcoff, CUNY, New York

Professor Rajeev Bhargava, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies

Professor Joseph Carens, University of Toronto

Professor Axel Mueller, Northwestern University

Professor Yves Sintomer, Paris

Professor Gérard Bras, Paris

Professor Michael Lowy, Paris

Professor Eleni Varica, Paris

Gabi Zimmer, Berlin

Professor Allison Weir, University of Toronto

Professor Nick Kompridis, Toronto

Professor Michał Kozłowski, University of Warsaw

Professor Frieder Otto Wolf, Kiel

Professor Magdalena Zolkos, Goethe University Frankfurt

Professor Patrice Maniglier, Paris Nanterre

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Join us for a free live discussion on Thursday 26 November, 5pm UK time/12pm EST.

Hear from:

Daniel Hiebert Professor of geography at the University of British Columbia

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Usha George Professor and director, Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement, Ryerson University, Canada

Keith Banting Professor emeritus and Stauffer Dunning Fellow, Queen’s University, Canada

Chair: Anna Triandafyllidou Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration, Ryerson University

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