Our Commons by Sophie Bloemen and Thomas de Groot features reflections on the enclosure of knowledge and the monopolisation of the digital sphere, stories about renewable energy cooperatives and community foodwaste initiatives and urgent pleas to see the city as a commons and to treat health as a common good. Published by the Institute of Network Cultures, the book is first published online as an e-book, free for all to download and share and as a printable PDF. The book will also be available on a wide variety of print-on-demand platforms.
Translation of the article in Italian “Il cibo buono fa bene all’Europa” by Manlio Masucci, in Comune.info, 6 May 2019
A common agricultural policy that focuses on food quality, agroecology and the social rights of those who work can relaunch the EU in crisis. Olivier De Shutter, president of Ipes-Food, speaks to us.
A common agricultural policy could make a decisive contribution to the development of sustainable food systems and the relaunch of the EU’s integration project. An ambitious proposal, destined to face the numerous challenges that characterize the sector: from the low-cost junk food that floods our markets to the new generation of commercial treaties, from the widespread illegality to the exploitation of workers to the system of public subsidies that facilitate the large standardized mass production. We asked Olivier De Shutter, co-chairman of Ipes-Food, former UN Special Commissioner for the Right to Food and current member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, how to address these problems at a time when public confidence in the EU seems to be at an all-time low.
De Shutter, citizens are harassed by the economic crisis and often choose to save money by buying bad quality food at low cost. How to convince them that this is not the best solution? The solution is not just to tell people to eat healthier food. We need to make the health option easier for everyone, especially for low-income groups. This means using a range of tools – urban planning, tax incentives (e.g. taxes on sodas or zero VAT on fruits and vegetables) and public procurement – to build healthy food environments. We need an adequate social safety net. Cheap calories can no longer replace social policies, which need to be rebuilt and redesigned to address the root causes of poverty and promote access to healthy food for all. Europe is approving new trade treaties that open the door to waves of junk food and feed unsustainable production systems. What is your position? The EU’s business model promotes trade in goods at ever-increasing volumes, despite contradictions with health and sustainability objectives. For example, the FTA with Japan is based on increased export opportunities in the high-emission meat and dairy sectors. Simply put, the EU and its Member States must completely rethink this model.
The report supports the need to rebuild confidence in the EU. Could a new food policy be the vehicle for relaunching the proEuropean project? Food is a source of great concern for citizens. By acting in this area and responding to what citizens want – healthy, sustainable and locally produced food – the EU can assert its relevance and importance. The idea of a food policy is inherently more democratic than current sectoral policies. By shifting the focus from agriculture to food, a wider range of stakeholders can be significantly involved in policy design and evaluation. How can a new food policy benefit workers in the sector? In Italy there is the phenomenon of immigrants forced to work in the fields in conditions of similar slavery. How to deal with widespread illegality? The most powerful actors in the food sector are able to put pressure on wages and working conditions. The cost of this is borne by farm labourers, fast food personnel and delivery personnel. This is happening in the EU and around the world. A common food policy would address this problem on three fronts. First, as well as applying due diligence to food importers, it would accelerate the reforms already underway at European level to crack down on unfair trade practices and abuses of buyer power in supply chains. Secondly, it would oblige operators to disclose the true costs of food production, allowing negative impacts on workers’ welfare to be made visible.Third, a common food policy would refocus EU policies in support of the alternative food system and short supply chain initiatives to ensure fair revenues for farmers and food workers.
In Italy 15% of the cultivated area is organic but about 97% of public incentives go to conventional agriculture. We are also well above the European average for pesticide consumption. Could a common policy help to improve this situation? A common food policy would reduce dangerous pesticides and chemical exposures by using various policy instruments, with increasing ambition over time. Steps to enhance the environmental vocation of the CAP would be combined with measures needed to develop diversified, low-input agroecological systems through research, better soil monitoring and a crackdown on endocrine disrupters (EDCs) in food packaging. With more stringent regulations, and demonstrating the benefits of agroecological alternatives, the EU would no longer be held hostage by short-term solutions. Therefore, in the long term, the EU could gradually phase out the systematic use of harmful pesticides such as glyphosate.
Young Italians are looking with increasing interest at the land for job opportunities while farmers’ markets are growing even in large cities. How can a common food policy support this process? Building shorter and fairer supply chains is one of the five key objectives of a common food policy. Tools already exist to support direct sales and short supply chains (e.g. in rural development), but they are rarely adopted by Member States and poorly implemented. Under a common food policy, more funding would be allocated to these initiatives and to local structures to support them through, for example, local food policy councils and urban food policies. Member States would be obliged to develop coherent strategies to support short supply chains and territorial initiatives. EU support instruments would also be redefined to be more accessible to small farmers and local food initiatives.
This year’s conference focuses on how REScoops and local authorities can transform communities through collaboration and features European REScoops, local authorities (including cities and municipalities) and a bunch of local stakeholders from the RIPESS network, the Compile project and the wider Balkan region.
This 3-day conference will take place in Zagreb, Croatia on Thursday 30th of May, Friday 31st of May and Saturday 1st of June 2019. The international conference on day 1 and 2 will coincide with the 6th General Assembly of REScoop.eu on day 3.
We start the conference on day 1 with a plenary session about Energy Remunicipalisation and a guided tour through Zagreb for REScoop.eu members.
On day 2, REScoops and municipalities will present information on how to accelerate the energy transition at the local level. European stakeholders will explain how citizen energy communities are organised in their respective countries and best practices of innovative collaboration between REScoops and local authorities in the Balkan region and beyond will be showcased. Finally, during several interactive sessions participants will be able to share thoughts and ideas
On day 3, more interactive workshop sessions will be organised, followed by REScoop.eu’s General Assembly
Article of URGENCI
URGENCI, the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)1 network and its national members from 12 European countries held an advocacy capacity building session in Brussels. This training session took place on the 14th, 15th, 16th of May. CSA advocates had an unprecedented opportunity to share experience and to refine their key messages.
URGENCI and its members believe it is high time to raise the voices of CSA. In the run up to the European elections, candidates should listen carefully to the voices of this grassroots movements. “The specificity of CSA is that it is a concrete step towards a new social contract between producers and the societies they feed” explains Mathias von Mirbach, a CSA farmer from Germany. CSA is one of the most effective tools to help sustainable family farmers and conscious consumers regain control of local and territorial food systems.The CSA model is highly efficient when it comes to fighting food waste, preserving cultivated agro-biodiversity and consolidating local economies and employment. The nutrition provided by fresh, local agroecologically grown fruit and vegetables is now recognised as essential in fighting Non Communicable Disesases (NCDs) such as diabetes, obesity and heart problems and cancer. CSA initiatives therefore make a direct contribution to improving the health of European citizens. Its social and environmental contributions should be more clearly recognised. Direct payments and other measures of direct support should be directed towards producers who sell locally through CSA and other direct schemes.
These voices join the vibrant call for a Common Food Policy: there is a urgent need to repair the lack of coherence between policies implemented by the different DGs of the European Commission. We need to connect agriculture with health and nutrition, social inclusion and the environment. It is vital for thousands of CSA farms across Europe to ensure that agroecology and sustainability are promoted as overarching principles, and are prioritised over industrial agriculture, competition and corporate profits. “As part of the Nyeleni Europe Movement for Food Sovereignty, we in URGENCI are convinced that it is equally essential to ensure small-scale agroecological producers are at the core of this radical change towards a Common Food Policy, and ensure European citizens have access to healthy, nutritious food”, stresses Isabel Alvarez, Vice-President of URGENCI.
Now is the time for radical change. A change that is already well under way in the CSA. movement.
1Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a direct partnership between people and one or severalproducer(s), whereby the risks, responsibilities and rewards of farming are shared, through a long-term, binding agreement.
Open letter to candidates standing in the European Parliamentary election
The Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS) brings together national and territorial networks in Europe with a 360° transformative vision that is economic and ecological, democratic, social and societal. We are committed to change in the economic practices and imagination:
- Rehabilitate cooperation, solidarity and equity in a break with existing unbridled competition
- Focus on the emancipation of individuals, economic citizenship and human rights as higher principles
- End the waste of resources, the indiscriminate use of pollutants, the excessive pursuit of profit
The European Parliament elections will be held between 24th and 26th May 2019. Let us consider Article 3 of the EU Treaty, in particular paragraphs 1, 2 and 3: “1. The Union’s aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples. It promotes economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity between States”.
This new Parliament will undoubtedly have to face a very challenging situation within the European Union, and in the world: accelerating climate threats, extinction of animal species, deteriorating living conditions, the phenomenon of migration. Moreover, the increase in authoritarian political regimes has become blatant, as an appempt to stifle the growing aspiration of peoples to access their fundamental rights. As a result of all the above, the European ideal is under severe threat and the European ideal of peaceful cohesion of peoples has lost its credibility with those living in the ever-growing precariousness that is the outcome of a blind, globalized economic system.
In the face of these challenges, European citizens are organizing, proposing appropriate solutions and re-creating a relocalised social and solidarity economy, that is respectful of biotopes, and anchored in social justice and the common good. They encourage consultation with local institutions, enterprises and elected officials. This solidarity model is expanding rapidly in Europe and throughout the world, makes it possible to create an economy that supports the well-being of our societies, allying producers and consumers in responsible production and consumption models. It makes a significant contribution to the territorial cohesion and the preservation of resources through their intelligent use. It ensures that planetary boundaries are not exceeded.
This new parliament has the duty to take on board that European electors wish to be consulted beforehand and become active stakeholders in the policies, laws and rules that affect them and influence the future of the planet ,and build peace in the world.
We request you take position on the following ten points:
1. It is fundamental to take the path of a more ethical, responsible and solidarity-based redistributive economy in which the Social solidarity economy is fully recognised as an exemplary economic model that increases wellbeing and peace within Europe. Similarly, in a transversal way across sectoral policies, we call on you to build and pass the necessary laws to do so.
2. Food and agriculture that respects the soil, air and water, eliminates the use of toxic inputs that have a dangerous impact on human health and living species and promotes decent incomes for small and medium-sized farms by limiting industrial agriculture, processing and distribution models and developing short food chains with traceability and approved by consumers and producers.
3. Low-carbon transport infrastructure that services terriorities and meets local peoples’ needs and specifically rehabilitates rail and inland waterway transport, public transport, special bicycle lanes and shared forms of transportation.
4. A renewable energy development policy based on the production of eco-designed, solidarity-based and sustainable goods and services and breaks with the current obsolete fossil fuel-based model that is both harmful to the climate and dangerous.
5. An ambitious European Social Rights Pillar and a unified European labour code based on the Gothenburg Social Summit (16-18 November 2017), that supports access to protective social rights (pension,health cover, unemployment rights, training, etc.), and eliminates harmful social dumping on countries where companies relocate in the community and establish intolerable working conditions that fly in the face of decent work (see RIPESS Europe contribution). This includes the recognition and construction of cultural rights in Europe (in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fribourg Declaration on Cultural Diversity , the UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity, Earth Chart and the Declaration of Peasants Rights and Rights of Other People living in Rural Areas), and the respect of Indigenous Peoples and local cultures.
6. Ongoing commitment to fight against all forms of discrimination based on gender, origin, sexual orientation and religion by developing an educational system oriented towards an understanding of our common belonging to humanity, whose future depends on our solidarity and cooperation.
7. An ambitious common policy for human rights, open borders and economic citizenship for migrants that ensure the immediate integration of people in compliance with international conventions for the protection of human rights (UN conventions and the main conventions previously adopted by the Council of Europe, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families/ICRMW).
8. A coherent plan to build and consolidate economic conditions in countries that are sources of migration for the benefit of local communities through the implementation of Social Solidarity Economy framework legislation and programmes. The European Union also needs to exert pressure on large companies when the level of predation on resources dispossesses local populations through notoriously unethical procedures, rather than support them.
9. Support for education that emphasizes civic engagement, cooperation rather than competition, a fair and redistributive economy and ecological awareness that are conducive to transitional innovations.
10. A regulated financial system, that promotes ethical non-speculative public finance that serves a transformative solidarity economy and communities and a plurality of alternative and complementary social and local currency systems, which do not create debt but promote fair trade, and sustainable relocalised local development.
All these policies are necessary. The social solidarity economy movement as a whole can collectively and democratically implement them. Your active participation in this process is indispensible. Your position – and our votes – are key in providing the opportunity to open the future towards greater social justice, economic democracy and economic vigilance.
RIPESS Europe and its members will support your efforts and relay the declarations of intent that support these positions. We invite you to join us and participate in the construction of the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies that will be held in Barcelona in 2020.
ROMANIA : CRIES will promote Sustainable Consumption and Production in the campaign for European Parliament!
As part of the European campaign #Trade Fair Live Fair, CRIES and its partners will launch a debate about the importance to stand up for a different consumption and production model. More than 5.000 citizens, activists and politicians will be involved in different events as thematic workshops, conferences, films projection and street events.
On May 11, several activities related to the World Fair Trade Day will take place in Timisoara and Iasi. In November 2019, we will organize in Bucharest the first edition of Fair Trade Breakfast, an event that would bring together Romanian and European decision makers, NGOs and activists.
Romania is one of the three EU Member States where more than a third of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2017, with a share of 35.7% (Eurostat). Even in this context, it is difficult to question the dominant model of development; the general preoccupation is to assure more economic growth than a sustainable one.
The thematic of Fair Trade is not present on the political agenda of Romanian parties. The participation in this project will help us to develop educational activities, to initiate dialogue with citizens and candidates. We hope to generate new information and motivation among Romanian citizens in order to claim more actions for a sustainable development”, says Mihaela Vețan, president of CRIES –Ressources Center for Ethical and Solidarity based Initiatives.
FRANCE : RTES calls on French candidates for the European Parliament
The Network of Territories for the Solidarity Economy (RTES) launches a call for all candidates, on the basis of the 10 proposals of the RTES for a more united Europe,
In partnership with ESS France and the Le Labo ESS, lunches or breakfasts are organised with European candidates, based on SSE for Europe advocacy proposals from members of ESS France, Social Economy Europe, the ESS Labo and RTES.
RTES will participate in the debate on the questioning of candidates in the European elections organised by Commerce Equitable France, on the 13th of May 2019, on the theme of Inequality and climate change: Which Europe to face these global challenges?
FRANCE : The MES appeals to future MEPs on ten key points
The Mouvement for Solidarity Economy (MES) in France has made an appeal through an Open Letter to European Elections Candidates
SPAIN : REAS proposes a framework of proposals
In view of the series of electoral calls that will take place in the spring of 2019 in the Spanish State, from REAS network of networks, independent organization and composed of 18 sectoral and territorial networks throughout the State, we want to reach political parties, social agents and the general public our framework of proposals for the construction of a more just, democratic and sustainable economy..
CATALUNYA : XES launches an SSE campaign in municipalities
GREECE : DOCK launches a Fair Times campaign in Greece
In Greece, through this campaign, we want to inform candidates about the impact of unfair production and consumption policies, not only on a global scale, but also on the interactions with reality in Greece. As the United Nations SDGs demonstrate, social, economic and environmental problems are universal. This universalism requires a concerted commitment to the implementation of coherent policies that can benefit Greek citizens, Europeans and our fellow citizens around the world.
Fair Trade Hellas and Dock are implementing the campaign in Greece. Between now and the European elections, there will be open events, information and education opportunities on the problems of a fair and inclusive economy and on how to defend these problems. In addition, we call on all Members of Parliament to be informed of the issues of the campaign, to join us in discussing how they can also be part of a pan-European campaign that concerns all of us in our country.
On Friday 10 May at 6.30 pm at Impact Hub (Athens), we invite you to a day dedicated to fair trade!
The Fair Times campaign is a pan-European campaign coordinated by
five civil society network organisations calling for a fair and sustainable European consumption and production agenda.
Together with the FTAO, which leads the global Fair Trade movement’s advocacy at EU level, IFOAM EU (European umbrella organisation for organic food and farming), CIDSE (International family of Catholic social justice organisations), RIPESS-Europe (RIPESS Europe is the European network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy) and ECOLISE (European network for community-led initiatives on sustainability and climate change) are representing their respective movements through
a campaign that is a little different from the usual.
The campaign is centred on a special edition of ‘The Fair Times’ newspaper from 2024, the end of the next European Parliament term. The newspaper aims to provide examples of policies that the EU could implement regarding a sustainable consumption and production agenda and hopes to inspire candidates to commit to taking action if elected.
This newsletter is a special edition dedicated to upcoming European parliamentary elections.
In the critical times we are living, all efforts to counter the anti-democratic specter which is sweeping across Europe are crucial, as well as the citizen-led initiatives to build a better Europe, starting from our everyday practices in our communities to the global policies that affect all of us, from climate, to migration, to agriculture, human and social rights, etc.
We need and want a Social Solidarity Europe.
As a network of people committed to profoundly transform the financial and economic systems, we have values and proposals in common. In the Open letter to the candidates, we’ve spelt out the main ones that look well beyond our community, collective and cooperative practices.
We’ve joined forces with other movements and networks for a campaign on sustainable production and consumption: the Fair Times is the result of a common venture – read the Newspaper dated 2024, where we imagine what could happen if the European parliament actually developed some of our proposals, 5 years from now.
But there’s more: some of our member networks have engaged organising events in their territories towards the European elections as well as towards the many local elections taking place in the same period. You may read about some initiatives below.
The preparatory meeting (april 5-7) for the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies (which will take place in Barcelona in May 2020) brought together representatives of different movements from all over Europe and the world. Joining forces in these times is no longer an option – it’s more necessary than ever. What we are trying to build together is an ambitious and precious space for concrete engagement and co-construction of a different financial and economic system. As RIPESS – with all our members, partners and allies – we are fully engaged to make it possible.
These are dangerous times, but also times for opportunity to really change the wind if we (re-)act positively together.
What does the documentation on public policies in favour of the social and solidarity economy at European level say?
Among the issues that are included in the documentation under the keyword: The social economy in the European Union (EU), we can mention: sustainable development, social justice, immigration, European funds for SSE, integration enterprises and public procurement, social entreprises, cooperatives, new wealth indicators..
the Role of territories
- RTES, 2018, Europe & ESS Enjeux et leviers d’actions pour les collectivités locales
- Laurent Fraisse, Debis Stokkink, Elise Dubetz, L’Atelier IDF, 2014, Etude comparative de politiques locales européennes au croisement de l’ESS et du développement durable. Rapport intermédiaire.
- UFISC, 2016, Contribution de l’UFISC à la consultation publique sur le Socle européen des droits sociaux
- Laura Aufrère, 2016, Contribution of RIPESS Europe – Solidarity Economy Europe To the European Commission public consultation on a European Pillar of Social Rights,
- Chris Chancellor, More farmers better food. Why and how to put small-scale sustainable producers at the core of the new CAP, March 2019
For a global view of SSE Public Policies at the European level :
- Chorum et Pour la Solidarité, 2018, Les actions de la Commission européenne pour l’économie sociale en 2017-2018
- CIRIEC, 2017, Évolutions récentes de l’économie sociale dans l’Union européenne,
- CIRIEC, 2017, Recent Evolutions of Social Economy in the European Union – Study
- CIRIEC, 2017 Evolución reciente de la economía social en la Unión Europea
- Susy, Riccardo Troisi, Monica di Sisto, Alberto Castagnola, 2017,final analysis of the SSEDAS research Transformative economy: challenges and limits of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) in 55 territories in Europe and in the World
- SUSY, Riccardo Troisi, Monica di Sisto, Alberto Castagnola, 2017 Análisis final de la investigación SSEDAS Economía transformadora: desafíos y límites de la economía social y solidaria (ESS) en 55 territorios de Europa y del mundo (versión abreviada)
- Giulia Galera, Gianluca Salvatori, BIT/ILO, 2015, Políticas públicas para la economía social y solidaria: hacia un entorno favorable. El caso de Europa
- Intergroupe social economy, le Conseil de l’UE et le CESE, 2018, L’avenir des politiques européennes pour l’économie sociale passe par un Plan d’Action,
- Intergroup social economy, EU Council and CESE, 2018, The Future of EU policies for the Social Economy: Towards a European Action Plan,
Have a good reading !
Authors : Benoît Borrits, Bruno Della Sudda, Christian Mahieux et Richard Neuville | 25 Apr 2019 | Événements, Vie de l’association
Article of Association Auogestion
The articulation between self-management, ecology and feminism at the heart of the 3rd meeting of the “Workers’Economy”.
From 12 to 14 April, the third Euro-Mediterranean meeting “The Workers’ Economy” was held in Milan. About 200 people participated, with parity between men and women and a fair number of young people. This process was initiated about ten years ago by the Faculta Abierta program of the University of Buenos Aires, which studies and supports companies that are recovered by their workers. By denying the owners the right to close a company or to dispose of the production tool and by resuming production without a boss in a self-managed form, these workers prefigure another economy, democratic and without shareholders. The objective of these meetings is to bring together workers from these companies, researchers and activists from different countries over a few days.
Having started from Latin America, this process is now being translated into continental and global meetings. This Euro-Mediterranean edition is the third after Marseille (Fralib/scop-Ti) in 2014 and Thessaloniki (Vio.me) in 2016. It was held in Rimaflow, a former automotive supplier factory converted into various ecological and social activities. It brought together participants from about ten countries: Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Kurdistan, Germany, Russia (and also Brazil and Argentina). These meetings made it possible to discuss various themes such as the notion of conflict mutualism, promoted by the Rimaflows and the Fuori Mercato network (Outside the market), a trade unionism without borders and embracing the whole social field; agroecology and the relations between rural and urban movements; social reproduction in self-managed experiences and union work; the recovery of the “public”, the “commons” from a self-management perspective; self-managed production and self-management of distribution; the articulation between self-management, ecology and feminism; welfare from below; economic autonomy to overcome gender violence.
Prefiguring an economy free of bosses and shareholders, we can consider that the presence of trade union organisations would be obvious: should the outcome of social demands not lead to this perspective? From this point of view, the presence of organisations such as the Union Syndicale Solidaires or the Spanish CGT is an essential support in the development of this process. It is regrettable that too few self-managed companies are currently included in these meetings. It will undoubtedly be essential to redefine the objectives so that they are more present; this is an issue, particularly in France.
Euro-Mediterranean meetings, a prefiguration of a Europe of workers, a Europe turned towards the southern shore of the Mediterranean? The next edition should take place in 2021 in Andalusia, organised in particular by the comrades of SOC/SAT and CGT; in September 2019, the 7th international meeting will be held in Sao Paulo.
L’Association pour l’autogestion, le Réseau pour l’autogestion, les alternatives, l’altermondialisme, l’écologieet leféminisme (AAAEF) et l’Union syndicale Solidaires were present in Milan, as part of the joint work within the Network Getting Together for Empowerment1.
1 This Network brings together l’Association Autogestion (AA), l’Association des communistes unitaires (ACU), les Amis de Tribune socialiste (ATS), Cerises la coopérative, l’Observatoire des mouvements de la société (OMOS), le Réseau pour l’autogestion, les alternatives, l’altermondialisme, l’écologie et le féminisme (AAAEF), le Temps des lilas et l’Union syndicale Solidaires.