This is the third and final instalment of the Party of European Socialists manifesto for the European Elections to be held on 22 May.  I believe it is a strong document providing clear policies on jobs and growth and Europe’s economic problems. This last section talks about gender equality, and I’m certainly very pleased that the PES is showing such a commitment to this extremely important matter.

The PES Manifesto

II. A Union that protects

5. A Union of equality and women’s rights
The principle of equality must be at the heart of what it means to be a European citizen. We all benefit from living in a more equal society. Ensuring, promoting and enhancing women’s rights and gender equality remains one of our highest priorities. We need a binding commitment to end the gender pay and pension gap. Violence against women must be ended. Reconciling professional and family life must mean promoting balance not sacrifice, and promoting women’s free choice and access to sexual and reproductive rights, must be urgently and vigorously protected in the face of a conservative backlash. We will be relentless in our fight against all forms of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and intolerance. We stand for the values of equality and of non-discrimination and promote that women and men must equally share work, share power, share time and share roles, both in the public and in the private realms. We will safeguard the rights and well-being of children, and ensure that no person is denied a job, a position, a future or any other fundamental right because of the colour of their skin, sexual orientation, identity, religion, age, gender, disability, political opinion or any form of discrimination.

6. A Union of diversity
Against rising extremism, we will fight for a Europe that respects everybody’s rights and obligations, not one that is based on prejudice, hate and division. Everybody must have a real opportunity to participate and contribute to the societies they are living in. Freedom of movement is a right and a founding principle of the EU. The rights of citizens and their legally recognised families must be respected, while we must fight against fraud and abuse. True solidarity among all EU member states has to be shown in migration and asylum policy to avoid more human tragedies, and sufficient resources allocated. In order to save lives, Europe and its Member States must act in solidarity and have the right mechanisms to share the responsibilities. We want effective integration and participation policies, assistance to the countries migrants have left. The fight against human trafficking must be reinforced.

7. A Safe and Healthy life for all
European citizens deserve to live a safe and healthy life. We want stronger rules that give consumers power. We will protect Europeans’ right to enjoy safe food, safe products and a safe living environment. We recognize the strategic role of agriculture and fisheries for our societies, and want to promote a sustainable and thriving rural development. The EU must adapt to new challenges, especially the digital agenda and guarantee broad access to the internet. We need solid EU legislation on the protection of citizens’ personal data and access to information. Striking the right balance between privacy, freedom, and security is vital. The EU should guarantee citizens’ right to security by promoting cooperation in the fight against organised and crossborder crime.

III. A Union that performs

8. More democracy and participation
For the first time in EU history, you will have a direct say to designate the President of the European Commission. We are proud to lead this real step towards a more democratic Europe, and to have paved the way that other political parties now also follow. The European Union is a political union which ensures the equality of its citizens, and the equality of its states. European citizens, civil society, and social actors must have full democratic participation and control in European Union decisions. We will promote a
prominent role for the European Parliament that has legislative, budgetary and control powers, as the EU institution representing its citizens. Decisions must be taken at the most appropriate level, be it local, regional, national or European, in the interest of European citizens. All policies must be efficient, respect democratic values, fight corruption and serve citizens in an open and transparent way. We will put in place effective European responses to breaches of fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law.

9. A Green Europe
The EU must regain global leadership on the protection of nature and natural resources and the fight against pollution and climate change. This requires both close cooperation with our global partners and leading by example. We will support clean technology and environmentally friendly production. As we approach the 2020 deadline, we will therefore support further binding targets on the reduction of carbon emissions, the increased use of renewable energy and improved energy efficiency. We will promote the implementation of Project Bonds to finance good investments in the green economy, renewable energy and technology. Production, consumption and mobility patterns must change and the use of recycling must improve. This way we will reduce pressure on scarce natural resources and help citizens to reduce their energy bills and their ecological footprint. We will fight energy poverty and will guarantee minimum access to energy for everyone.

10. Promoting Europe’s influence in the world
The European Union must carry the universal principles of democracy, peace and respect for human rights, including women’s and children’s rights. In a globalised and changing world, with conflicts and growing inequalities, Europe must be a global player. We must build strong alliances to respond to common challenges. We want Europe to have a strong voice and the proper tools to lead in promoting peace, democracy, and shared prosperity throughout the world. Europe combines defence, development, trade and diplomacy efforts to maximize the positive effects in its foreign policy. The EU must be an effective agent of peace abroad and an efficient promoter of defence cooperation. We must support the people struggling for democracy, social justice, non-discrimination and freedom against any form of occupation everywhere in the world. We will support the Eastern Partnership as an important instrument to bring countries closer to EU and will promote strong relations with the Mediterranean region. We must maintain support for European enlargement. Fundamental rights and European values must continue to be respected unequivocally in any future accession. We must fight global imbalances and poverty by promoting policy coherence for development and making the Millennium Development Goals and the UN post 2015 agenda a success.

With these 10 projects we, Socialists, Social Democrats, Labour, Democrats and Progressives, will change Europe over the next 5 years. We count on your vote and we will act tirelessly on your behalf. Together, we will change Europe.

Labour Party

Party of European Socialists’ manifesto for the European elections, second instalment

Labour Party

As mentioned yesterday, this is the next instalment of the Party of European Socialists’ Manifesto for the European Elections.

PES Manifesto

2. It is time to relaunch the economy

Austerity-only policy has harmed our economies and punished those least responsible for causing the crisis. To create jobs and relaunch the economy, we will prioritize innovation, research, training and a smart reindustrialization policy, so that amazing breakthroughs discovered in European laboratories and universities can be translated into more jobs for workers in Europe. Our solution is more room for manoeuvre for investments through national budgets that expand rather than shrink our economy. While the crisis has demonstrated that the Euro can act as an effective buffer, the last five years have shown that the European Economic and Monetary Union’s construction is still incomplete. It has shown the importance of mutualising responsibility and rights within the Eurozone. We will bring down deficits in a sustainable and fair way and manage public debt in Europe with new instruments. We want to put in place a real coordination of the economic and fiscal policies in the Eurozone that understands the social effects of those decisions on your community. The European Parliament and national Parliaments must keep their sovereignty and be fully involved in the exercise of the democratic control over these policies. The legacy of the Troikas in this regard is a clear failure. After the end of the Troika missions, another model within the framework of the EU Treaties should be established, which has to be democratic, socially responsible and credible. We will be tough guardians of public money, enhancing the quality of public spending, cutting out waste and directing expenditure to get the best value for Europe’s people. The fight against tax fraud, tax evasion (which represents about €1 trillion every year) and tax competition are key priorities for a just tax system. Halving tax evasion by 2020, and cracking down on tax havens are our key priorities. We will also promote tax rules that ensure transparency and prevent tax dodging.

3. Putting the financial sector at the service of the citizens and the real economy

Europeans had to pay for the mistakes and irresponsibility of an unregulated financial sector. The rescue of banks has cost €1.6 trillion of taxpayers’ money. Over 5 years, the finance sector has said that it has learned from its mistakes. We will make sure that never again will banks gamble with citizens lives. Instead we must actively put in place the framework that will make the financial sector work for the real economy and contribute its fair share to society. Regulation will force banks to serve your communities instead of stripping them. Investors should take responsibility for the losses of banks, not only for their gains. We will further regulate the banking sector, curb financial speculation and implement adequate firewalls between Commercial and Investment Banking. We will cap bankers’ bonuses and will speed up the introduction of the Financial Transaction Tax that we have been supporting for years as a fair contribution of the financial sector to society. We will insist on the creation of an independent and public European credit rating agency. We will continue our efforts to build a robust Banking Union that is designed to protect European citizens and to give equal and fair access to credit in Europe.

4. Towards a Social Europe

The right wing has used neoliberal policies to cut provisions that have helped people bounce back after tough times. We will fight for a Europe that leaves no one behind. A decent income, the quality and affordability of education, of housing, including social housing, of healthcare, childcare and elderly care, as well as the adequacy of pensions are crucial components of our societies. To achieve these aims, the EU must support Member States in the effective and fair redistribution of wealth and opportunities. Binding targets on employment, education and social cohesion are essential. Social policy objectives must be respected in all European policies. We need to ensure that the EU is a real Social Union as much as it is an Economic Union: economic freedoms cannot outweigh social rights. We will give opportunities for Europeans to develop their potential by investing in education, skills, childcare provision, life-long learning, culture, student mobility, research, and knowledge.

Party of European Socialists Manifesto for the European Elections

Labour Party

The Party of European Socialists recently adopted its manifesto for the European elections to be held in just over two months’ time on 22 May.

Unlike the other pan-European parties fighting the European elections, the Party of European Socialists has a common manifesto with all the national Labour and social democrat parties across Europe, though there will be some room for member state discretion.

The PES will also return MEPs from every EU member state unlike the ECR (European Conservatives and Reformist) Group whose mainstay is the British Tories.

I am posting the PES Manifesto on this blog in three parts.

PES Manifesto
Adopted by the PES Election Congress in Rome on 1 March 2014
Towards a New Europe

We strongly believe that the European Union must change. This May, in the European Parliament elections, your vote will give us the opportunity to deliver the EU that you deserve. A Europe that progresses, a Europe that protects, a Europe that performs. Our political family of parties across 28 countries will dedicate themselves to fighting for a secure future for you. The right wing has created a Europe of fear and austerity. During 5 years of an EU conservative majority, we have fought for a strong, socially just and democratic Europe. But now it is time to lead from the front. To do that we need your support, your help, your vote.

Our programme for the next five years of the European Union will bring back job creation, a productive economy, a sense of community and respect for people. We want to put you as a citizen and as a voter back in charge and bring back hope to Europe’s youth.

This May for the first time you will have a say in who runs Europe. Your vote will decide who the next President of the European Commission is. To change the right-wing majority in the European Union, the only vote that counts is a vote for European Socialists, Social-Democrats, Labour, Democrats and progressives.

I. A Union that progresses

1. It is time to put jobs first

This is our first and main priority: Europeans, women and men, must have a decent job that allows a good quality of life. Yet here is the legacy of the economic policies of the last five years, in stark figures: nearly 27 million Europeans who want to work cannot find a job, including nearly a quarter of our young people. 120 million in Europe are at or under the poverty threshold. Creating jobs for young people is a challenge which will define us, for this generation and the next, and will remain a key priority for us as part of our long-term commitment to full employment. Central to our job strategy is the full implementation of our Youth Guarantee plan. To make it successful, we will substantially increase its budget and extend it to everyone under the age of 30. To create jobs, we will introduce an ambitious European industrial policy and will support our Social Economy and our Small and Medium Enterprises. We will promote innovative green technologies and improve the performance of our economies. We want to put an end to social dumping, by ending the practice of exploiting workers and precarious contracts that harm many Europeans. We want to promote social justice. We will insist on strong rules to guarantee equal pay for equal work, the protection of workers’ rights and quality jobs; on reinforcing trade unions’ rights, social dialogue and anti-discrimination legislation; improving the protection of workers posted in a different country by revising the Posting of Workers Directive; and promoting better cooperation at European level on labour inspections. We will introduce decent minimum wages across Europe, established either by law or through collective bargaining. The jobs we create must allow all our citizens to participate in the economy as proud equals. All trade agreements, including the one currently under negotiation with the United States, must be bound to the protection of people´s human and social rights, decent work, environmental standards, culture as well as corporate social responsibility and fair trade.

Irish Labour women organise an excellent conference on the objectification of women

Labour Party
Mary with Emer Costello MEP, Nessa Childers MEP, Joan Burton TD (Irish Minister) on her right, Zita Gurmai MEP and Phil Prendergast MEPon her left

Mary with Emer Costello MEP, Nessa Childers MEP, Joan Burton TD (Irish Minister) on her right, Zita Gurmai MEP and Phil Prendergast MEP on her left

A conference organised jointly by the Party of European Socialists Women and Labour Women Ireland  to mark the Irish presidency of the EU agreed that legislation to target the buyers of sex was the best way to deal with prostitution. The conference entitled “Objectification of Women” held in Dublin on Saturday also celebrated the Irish Labour Party’s centenary.

I want to thank Labour Women Ireland for hosting a great event. The panel discussions were lively and inspiring.  I was particularly pleased to see my three Irish Labour Party MEP colleagues, Nessa Childers,  Phil Prendergast and Emer Costello, taking part in each of the three panel  sessions.

The first of these on women and the media was introduced by financial journalist Margaret E Ward from the Irish organisation “Women on Air”, which aims to get more women on television and radio.  The next session tackled the thorny issue of  women in decision-making, politics and the labour market starting with a very full presentation from Nat O’Connor from the Irish think tank TASC.  Patricia King, General Officer of the SIPTU trade union, gave an inspiring and moving talk on her road to the top.  The last session, “Women as objects: European response to human trafficking and the sex trade”, looked at ways to end the exploitation, abuse and trafficking of women and girls by introducing the kind of laws  Sweden has had for over a decade whereby the buyers not the sellers of sex are the wrong-doers. Sweden has, in fact, seen a reduction in prostitution and organised crime since this legislation was put on the statute book.

My particular thanks to Sinead Ahern who organised the conference and to all the other women involved.  I came away feeling energised as well as having enjoyed spending time with such a lively and committed group of women.






European Socialist Leaders call for Financial Transaction Tax

Labour Party

European Socialist Prime Ministers and Deputy Prime Ministers call today for a tax on financial transactions across Europe. The tax, often named the “Robin Hood” tax on account of its aim to take money from the wealthy financial sector to redirect it to the public sphere, has for many years been supported by members of the S & D Group in the European Parliament as well as a number of celebrities including Bill Nighy.

You may be interested to read the following statement from the Socialist Prime Ministers and Deputy Prime Ministers and the Party of European Socialists ahead of the European Council on 24th and 25th March:

At the European Council meeting on 24th and 25th March 2011, decisions will be taken which will have far reaching consequences on the European economy and our societies.

The Party of European Socialists (PES) and its Prime Ministers and Deputy Prime Ministers, firmly reiterate our call for a balanced approach in tackling the economic, financial and social crisis in Europe. We commit to promoting efficient and fair solutions to reunite the necessary fiscal consolidation with strong sustainable growth, high employment and social progress.

At the meeting in Athens on 4th and 5th March 2011, the PES Leaders identified concrete policies to restore a balanced common approach to the challenges Europe is facing and adopted a declaration to this purpose.

We are focusing on four decisive points:

Financial Transaction Tax

The PES has for a long time been at the forefront in calling for a European Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). We reiterate our call for the immediate implementation of such a tax in the European Union, to raise fair and sustainable revenue to support economic recovery and public finances in all member states and to mitigate speculation on the financial markets.

The Rescue Mechanism

We welcome the setting up of a permanent rescue mechanism for the eurozone, which rewards the tenacity of European socialists and social democrats over the past 13 months. However, more needs to be done. The future European Stability Mechanism, as well as the current European Financial Stability Facility, must furthermore apply balanced conditionality, allowing for sustainable public finances as well as growth and employment. Interest rates charged on rescue loans must for this reason be aligned to market financing rates.

Europe 2020

Within the framework of the reform of EU and eurozone economic governance and economic policy coordination, we reiterate our commitment to reaching the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. To ensure, that our 2020-objectives can be reached, we need to develop further the economic pillar of the eurozone in a balanced way. For this purpose, National Reform Programmes and Stability and Convergence Programmes must be prepared according to the integrated guidelines.

Furthermore, the issue of macroeconomic imbalances in the Eurozone must be tackled, notably by promoting economic efficiency in deficit countries and internal demand in surplus countries.

Balanced reform

We urge for a balanced reform which includes an “Employment and Social Progress Pact”, establishing common and ambitious measures to preserve and strengthen our social models, inter alia relating to labour standards, minimum income and workers’ rights. Moreover, we reiterate our demand that the autonomy of social partners, notably in wage setting processes for which the EU has no competence, must be respected.