Time to unite the left in Europe

18 December 2016

Time to unite the left in Europe

Last week it was officially announced that I had been elected vice president of the SP’s political group in the European Parliament, the United Left, known by its French acronym as the GUE. Together with the president and three other vice presidents, we will be working to increase the visibility of our social alternatives for Europe. We are a collective leadership, in which I will be representing in particular the SP and our sister parties. These are in the main members of the sub-group within the United Left, the Nordic Green Left. It means a lot of work, but if we are to defeat the extreme right in Europe, we will have to combine our forces and I’m happy to make a contribution to this.

The SP feels comfortable with the GUE’s confederal character, which means that we don’t have to deal with all sorts of diktats from the group. This is important and must remain as it is: there are enough diktats from Brussels as it is. But the voice of the left both inside and outside the European Parliament needs to get rather louder, even if it’s made up of many voices. Now that, throughout the EU, troubled citizens are seeking their salvation on the right or even the extreme right , we need to make it clear that it is precisely the right’s neoliberal market-think that has misused the European Union and is now destroying it. First and foremost, then, our answer must be more solidarity and an end to trusting in unbridled marketisation. No neoliberal trade treaties, no further privatisation, and respect for decent social provision in every member state.

Because we divide the various tasks among ourselves, I will be able to get to know the EP praesidium in which the presidents of all of the political groups participate. In the past I’ve referred to this often as the ‘black box’, because as a non-member you have hardly any access to it. During the first meeting of presidents and vice–presidents we agreed that we were determined to put an end to this secrecy. In addition, the position includes substituting for the group president during important plenary debates, as well as at our group meetings. We also share the job of maintaining contacts with sister parties from beyond the EU and visits to conferences of parties affiliated to the GUE. It’s just a good job that there are five of us!

Gabi Zimmer from the German Die Linke (The Left) remains GUE president, while colleagues from Cyprus and France remain vice-presidents. The most pleasing for me, however, was perhaps the appointment of a MEP from Podemos as a vice-president. This Spanish movement is quite effervescent, which can be seen even within Brussels’ own ‘bubble’. This sort of contact gives you a great deal of energy. For the SP, it’s not only good to show international solidarity, but that we continue to acquire creative ideas from our sister parties. On the other hand, the vice-presidency makes it possible to have the SP’s voice heard more strongly not only in the parliamentary committees and cross-party Intergroups in which I participate but also in our own political group. I’m really looking forward to it.

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