Conference of the Presidents Press release

European progressive Parliamentarians together in Paris

Social democratic and socialist Presidents of parliamentary groups met for the second time

Social democratic and socialist Presidents in Paris © Frédéric Pitchal

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.

“Progressive Europe” is the motto adopted for these parliamentary meetings. Gathered in the Assemblée nationale, the parliamentary groups’ Presidents exchanged views on the deepening of the Eurozone as well as on the EU after the Brexit. They also made proposals “for bringing Europe back on track” as Bruno Le Roux, President of the French socialist parliamentary group, stated in his introductory speech. While Europe has to tackle the rise of populism, progressives have the “historic responsibility to speak out and initiate the revival of the European project”, claimed Bruno Le Roux.

The progressive alternative for Europe

Following the words of Thomas Oppermann, Chairman of the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag, several Presidents criticised the “politics of very small steps” which characterizes, according to Oppermann, the conservative approach and does not achieve the defined objectives.

Thomas Oppermann also criticized that a Europe-wide financial transaction tax, has not been implemented yet, despite widespread support by the European citizens. “The Eurozone and EU will have a future only if socialists and social democrats are the motor of integration again”, Oppermann added.

“Each step towards deepening the Eurozone must go hand in hand with progress in terms of common taxation and the development of a social union based on common minimum standards.”

Initiatives for youth

Representing the French government, Harlem Désir, the State Secretary for European Affairs, highlighted the top priorities for the EU: the capacity to defend and ensure its stability, supporting of growth in order to protect the European economy in the globalisation, and the fight against the youth’s unemployment.

Parliamentarians discussed the latter with European youth organisations such as the Franco-German Youth Office. They deplored the unemployment rate among young Europeans which lies at an average of 20% and the despair of a generation tempted by nationalist movements. The Conference has been closed with a declaration in favor of a European passport for the youth which will be submitted to the Heads of States and to the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker during the Summit in Bratislava. Targeting young people from Member States, this passport should give young Europeans more opportunities and a better access to mobility experiences.

Some others measures have been raised like the proposal to create a European funds to improve youth’s opportunities. Laurette Onkelinx, the President of the PS group at the Belgian Chambre des Représentants, argued for the continuation of the Youth Employment Guarantee which led to a decrease of unemployment in Belgium.

A web platform for processing the work

To go further and reinforce the cooperation beyond the conferences which will take place twice a year, Thomas Oppermann and Bruno Le Roux presented the web platform #ProgressiveEurope, where representatives of progressive parliamentary groups will be able to keep working, exchanging, formulating proposals and assessing their action.

Convinced that “such a close cooperation and exchange is more important than ever in these hard times”, Thomas Oppermann invited his colleagues to Berlin for the next #ProgressiveEurope Conference.


Watch the crossed interview of Thomas Oppermann and Bruno Le Roux presenting the #ProgressiveEurope platform:

You can download the programme of the conference here.

You can download the introductory statement of Thomas Oppermann here.