Chair: Dr. Uttam Kumar Sinha
Speakers: Mr. Ernst Stetter, Ms. Zita Gurmai, Mr. Jeses Caldera Sanchez-Capitan.
Ms. Zita Gurmai of the European Parliament, Mr. Jeses Caldera of the Spanish Parliament and Mr. Ernst Stetter, Secretary General of Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) gave a talk on economy, gender issues, global governance and on the Next Left.
Mr. Ernst Stetter spoke in brief about FEPS which was established in 2007 and deals with 'new economic thinking', different parts of the world, Europe, North Africa and the Next Left, i.e., the idea behind progressive social democracy in the 21st century. According to him, the social democracy movement, with its basis of justice and equality, has become more relevant in the modern times. The financial crisis has had disastrous consequences all around the world. The Social Democrats have tried to find out the reasons behind their loss in the elections. He also emphasised on establishing democratic institutions in Northern Africa. Ms. Zita Gurmai pointed out that when the Lisbon Strategy was formulated there were thirteen out of sixteen socialist leaders. According to her, Europeans are not proud enough of the EU order that they created. There is a huge difference between the left and the right in the European Parliament. According to her, the issues of women and poverty are directly related.
Mr. Jeses Caldera said that the movement in North Africa is based on purely democratic values, triggered by lower and middle income urban classes. During the last 20 years a progressive democratic movement has simmered with strong support to democratic values. He thus said that this movement needed support and that the Spanish Government was supporting it. According to him, the world is facing triple crises all over the world: financial, climate and poverty. But first and foremost it is a crisis of values. In Spain wind power, solar power and bio mass produce more energy than nuclear and meets 33% of Spain’s energy requirements. Thus, it is possible to bring a change in the energy model and forestall the dire crisis awaiting the planet. An effort has also to be made to eradicate the difference between the rich and the poor. Mr. Caldera concluded by saying that it is better to invest in equality than tackle the problems of inequality.
Several interesting questions were raised by the informed audience. It was pointed out that India admires European Union for the success it has achieved. However, EU seems to be unaware of its potential. Socialism cannot be discarded but how to achieve socialism without giving rise to rent seeking and strengthening bureaucratic domination in developing countries is a question that needs to be addressed. There were questions regarding EU's response to the movements across the Arab world, to migration and terrorism, and also whether developed countries were really serious about climate change since many citizens felt that global warming would actually benefit them with more benign temperatures in northern latitudes and opening up of Arctic sea routes.
In reply the panel pointed out the positive aspects of EU which are free movement across borders and the common currency which conforms to the solidarity that EU aims at, amongst its countries. Today, France and Germany are no longer enemies. They said that Russia with its current leadership is very difficult to negotiate with. Concerning climate change the view was that, the worst effect of climatic catastrophe would fall on the poor and the developing countries. Finally the necessity of education for all was pointed out and emphasized.
Report prepared by Pallavi Pal, IDSA