In our interview with Thomas Oppermann, the Chairman of the SPD Parliamentary Group talks about the cause of and ways to deal with populism. He calls for the development of a debate culture in Germany and for a state which looks after the interests of its citizens. This involves looking at social inequalities and insecurity, the crisis of democracy, boundaries and exclusion, and at positive developments.
Valérie Rabault was re-elected MP of the French Socialist Party in 2017. She answers to the questions of #ProgressiveEurope about the prospects of the Socialist Party. She also comments on the first actions of the new presidential majority, led by Emmanuel Macron and his party “La République en Marche”.
Anna Ascani, Member of the Italian Parliament, highlights the rise of populism in Europe, which is embodied in Italy by the Five Star Movement (M5S). To fight against “retromania” and reconcile citizens with politics, she suggests a strengthening of political proposals by European progressives.
In the context of increasing populism, important developments are required in order to guarantee the future of Europe. To win back the trust of its citizens, the EU needs an agenda which addresses their concerns, in particular regarding employment, security and integration.
Nationalism and a technocratic understanding of integration have been hindering the European integration. Even though the way towards a better Europe today might be harder than ever, progressives need to continue striving for the political union. The President of the Partito Democratico group in the Italian Parliament, Ettore Rosato, explains, why active listening and humility will be key to win public support for the progressive agenda.
“Towards a Progressive Europe” – this remains the objective of the conference, especially in currently tumultuous times in Europe and the world. After successfully strengthening ties at the conferences in Rome and Paris, the chairmen and chairwomen of the social democratic and socialist parliamentary groups of the national parliaments come together in Berlin for this year’s first gathering.
On Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 September 2016, the parliamentary group of the French Socialists in the Assemblée nationale organised in Paris the second Conference of the Presidents of socialist and social-democratic parliamentary groups from the European national parliaments. During this two-day conference, parliamentarians debated and submitted proposals on the future of the Eurozone and of the European Union.
The Presidents of European socialist and social-democratic parliamentary groups gathered during a second meeting on invitation of Bruno Le Roux, President of the French Socialist, ecological and republican group. At this occasion, the new platform #ProgressiveEurope has been officially launched. This platform will let more interaction between European Progressives and with the greater public.
We want a Europe of democracy. We believe that Europe needs more cooperation, coordination, and more communication among national parliamentarians, thus allowing them to give more policy impulses on the European level. It is fundamental to strengthen the role of national parliaments in the EU and the role of the European Parliament, with the principle of subsidiarity remaining the guideline for parliamentary cooperation.
Therefore, social democratic and socialist parliamentary groups of the EU member states launched the online communication platform “Progressive Europe” under the auspices of the groups’ presidents. The Platform is meant to push forward debates and connect national and European members of parliament amongst each other. Also, it will document the regular conferences taking place among the presidents, as well as the regular conferences of the parliamentarians responsible for budgetary affairs and finances. All activities are closely linked to the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.
As progressives, we strive for creating more life opportunities for the European citizens. It is our objective to empower all Europeans to have a good life quality and fully participate in their societies. While we fight for progressive policies on national level, we know that in order to reach our political goals we also need a social Europe, an EU close to its citizens, and a solid European economy. It is our common responsibility to promote the European Union as an advocate of social fairness, growth, integration, and democracy.
Today, there is a need for decisive actions to bring back economic growth, quality jobs, inclusive societies and security. The crisis and its devastating consequences are still a bitter reality for many Europeans. The ongoing economic difficulties, high (youth-) unemployment, the rise of the far right, the growth of populism and nationalism, the weakening of solidarity, and the horrible terrorist attacks are all extremely worrying developments that must be taken very seriously. They occur at a point of time when Europe faces an influx of refugees from war-torn and deprived regions of the world on an unprecedented scale.
All these challenges cannot be met by a single country alone, but only in collaboration of the EU member states. In this process, the close coordination of national parliaments is ever more important. This platform is supposed to contribute to this endeavour.
At the same time, it is a strong signal for European unity and a European spirit.
Paris, September 2016
Shortly before the referendum on Great Britain’s European Union membership, the chairmen of the SPD’s parliamentary group in the Bundestag and the “groupe socialiste, écologiste et républicain” in the French National Assembly joined together to present their propositions in light of the current EU crisis. With regard to the possibility of a “Brexit”, Thomas Oppermann and Bruno Le Roux support the Member States’ rapprochement and a closer cooperation with the objective of implementing new reforms, in particular between France and Germany.