On invitation of the Parliamentary Group of the Portuguese Socialist Party, the #ProgressiveEurope Interparliamentary Conference gathering MPs specialised in fiscal and budgetary affairs took place in the Assembleia da República on 15-16 September 2016. The European parliamentarians were welcomed by César Carlos, Chairman of the Socialist Group at Assembleia da República and by Paulo Trigo Pereira, Vice-Chairman of the financial and budgetary affairs committee.
Only four months after the Paris Conference and a few days after the Paris Conference of the Presidents of parliamentary groups, the European socialist and social-democratic Members of Parliament had more than ever enough topics to discuss. The Brexit, which was in the centre of the debates, has brought the European Union to go in an uncharted territory. Taking place in a country with a strong experience with migration flows, the Conference then spotted the ongoing refugee crisis, putting under the spotlight the need for more cooperation and mutual understanding between Member States. The two-day-long meeting was structured around of six roundtables dealing with a wide range of current European challenges.
The Five Presidents’ report was the topic of another roundtable, asking the question of the ways to completing Europe’s economic and monetary Union. Last but not least, the European Parliamentarians discussed about financial affairs and the implementation of the BEPS.
Unity of the Party family on fiscal matters is crucial
One of the first roundtables dealt with the issue of “Growth vs budgetary adjustment in Europe”. All participants agreed that growth should not be perceived as a virtue itself but rather as a means: A progressive social agenda for Europe can only be implemented by generating a certain level of growth and by guaranteeing a sufficient number of jobs. Moreover, a better coordination and cooperation within the party family is crucial. Several fields of action have been spotted, such as the introduction of the financial transaction tax or the harmonisation of a minimum corporate tax.
Put the values of integration and openness back on the political agenda
The parliamentarians also exchanged about the situation of Europe a few months after the Brexit, emphasizing that it is the duty of Social Democrats and Socialists to put the values of integration and openness back on our political agenda. The political crisis emerging through the rise of populist movements throughout Europe should be seen as an opportunity to put the Social Europe back on the agenda. Answering to one of the fear regularly linked to the globalisation, the parliamentarians agreed on ensuring the functioning of a fair market economy with a fair playing level for SMEs, enabling them to resist against big international players. Along with other measures such as the FTT, it seemed crucial for the Parliamentarians to place the struggle against tax evasion in the centre of the political debate, highlighting that there is no economic reasoning justifying tax heavens.
Two Conferences for 2017 already in the planning
Last but not least, the present MPs and MEPs decided to meet twice in 2017. The Finish MP Timo Harakka invited all the network to meet during the second half of 2017 at the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of Finland’s Independence and the opening of the new Parliament’s House in Helsinki.
Find below some pictures from the Conference: