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Editorial: another Europe is necessary
vote SSEurope flags

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.

Resources special edition European Elections (in collaboration with socioeco.org)

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..

But also:

the Role of territories

Culture

Agroecology

For a global view of SSE Public Policies at the European level :

Or

propositions

Have a good reading !

Euro-Mediterranean meeting of the “Workers’ Economy” network
April 20, 2019
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Phptp Article Association Autogestion

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.

Urban Alternatives: a new map to share transformative municipalist initiatives
urban alternatives

Urban Alternatives is a collaboration that brings together municipalist activists, academics, local governments, think-tanks and NGOs. The founding collaborators include participants from: Madrid 129, European Alternatives, Transnational Institute, Habitat International Coalition, MISTRA Urban Futures, Sheffield University Urban Institute, University of Aalborg, RIPESS Europe, P2P Foundation, Commons Network and the Global Platform for the Right to the City.

This mapping project looks to understand and map those initiatives that are emerging from the many urban social movements that are claiming the right to the city, occupying urban space, demanding social justice, democratic participation, cultural spaces and economic transformations. Largely hidden from our collective consciousness, this distributed and emergent set of actions demonstrated that it is not only possible to think of alternatives to the neoliberal paradigm, but that these alternatives are already happening. Our collaboration has two sets of goals:

1. To create the greatest possible visibility of positive urban transformation, revealing common dimensions of an emerging urban movement. We want to document – and to prove – that change is possible;

2. To create an ongoing process for developing common perspectives and understandings, supporting knowledge transfer between a diverse pool of actors, and providing opportunities for shared projects and common campaigns.

Brought into focus by the squares movement and the occupation of public space (from Tahrir to Puerta del Sol and Plaça de Catalunya, Taksim or Mong Kok), we’re witnessing a wave of initiatives ‘from below’ and ‘from the side’ that are looking to transform our urban environment. These initiatives – from the democratic remunicipalisation of energy production or the development of citizen policy-making mechanisms, through to the establishment of worker cooperatives to help meaningfully welcome refugees – all share a common thread. Not only do they pose a challenge to the increasing financialization of economy and commodification of urban space, they do so through putting faith in our own capacity to generate innovative projects, policies and prototypes that move us towards living our lives in common.

Go to the website: www.urbanalternatives.org

More farmers, better food: Nyéléni ECA releases CAP publication
More farmers better food CAP

Sustainable small farmers should be put at the core of EU agricultural policy, according to a new paper by the Nyeleni Europe and Central Asia Platform for Food Sovereignty [1]. The strongly documented publication comes ahead of a key vote in the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee in early April, and represents the position of a pan-European coalition of farmers, peasants, pastoralists, fisherfolk, Indigenous Peoples and environmental organizations in regards to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The report highlights the alarming situation in rural areas and in the food system in the EU: Between 2005 and 2016, the number of farm holdings under 50 hectares fell by 29.4%. Over 4 million holdings disappeared in just 10 years. Increased numbers of seasonal, and often migrant workers suffer appalling working and living conditions. Pollution linked to agrochemicals continues to have a negative impact on public health – chemical residues are found in food, nitrate and phosphorus run-off pollutes water and soil. High levels of antibiotic use in animal farming leads to antimicrobial resistance. Around 88 million tons of food waste is generated per year, as a result of the industrial food chain. CAP has made the EU extremely dependent on cheap imports from regions with far lower environmental and social standards.

Stanka Becheva, food sovereignty campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “With the world facing multiple environmental and social crises, many of which are directly linked to how we feed ourselves, EU politicians need to listen to small-scale sustainable farmers who can help fix the climate crisis and the breakdown of the natural world. The food systems they create provide healthy, affordable, and local food for consumers, respects nature and climate, and create safe and dignified employment.”

Laying out the part of the report focused on what is needed from the CAP for this transition to be successful, Genevieve Savigny, farmer and representative of the European Coordination Via Campesina [2], says “the CAP must provide small-scale sustainable producers with the adequate political, economic and social support they need. This implies fair prices, setting a capping for direct payments and a redistribution of aid. Currently, less than 2% of CAP beneficiaries receive 30% of the total budget of direct payments. This must change. More money for rural development and a collective approach of projects where peasant agroecology is promoted must be put forth. And for our youth? Support to new farmers during the first years of their activity is essential.”

“This report also shows the environmental and social benefits of new, local partnerships between producers and consumers. It comes right in time to show that a new social contract between food producers and the societies they feed is highly awaited and urgently needed”, says Judith Hitchman from URGENCI, the international network of Community Supported Agriculture movements.

Download the report (in English) here.

Transforming Europe in the world we want
Drawing New World

Every year in January, the RIPESS Europe Coordination Committee meets, hosted by Eric Lavillunière in the pretty village of Elne to work on the movement’s strategy. This year two important topics were on the agenda: the European elections to be held in May and the meeting to prepare the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies (WSFET) in April in Barcelona. Everyone is convinced that a race is underway to reverse the course of an economy that is outrageously predatory of the planet’s natural capital, leading to increasingly serious imbalances in human relations with their biotope and among themselves. The role of the European Parliament is becoming fundamental in harmonising the responses that European countries must urgently put in place to combat climate change and the authoritarian abuses that threaten democracy, in Europe but not only.

For several years now, we have been working to bring local authorities closer together to build public policies based on the territories that support citizen initiatives in the solidarity economy. But it is also essential to address European political leaders so that they encourage all the measures that act positively to maintain the democratic and ecological health of European countries. We are in the process of drafting a text that anyone can send to their Candidate for the elections of the European Parliament. The more of us do so, the more difficult it will be for them to ignore our claims. Alain Caillé’s proposal for a “European Republic” has something to say on this subject.

RIPESS Europe is also participating in a campaign for these elections on production and sustainable consumption with other networks such as FTAO and IFOAM. And with Friends of the Earth and several other organisations, we have developed a guide on how to talk about “the Europe we want”.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of initiatives that are invigorating to boost energy and hope. Whether it is a question of local currencies, renewable energy or the organisation of commons, the mobilisations are there.

European projects that allow cooperation between members are focused on transmission through training. It is essential to train new generations to continue to invent the solutions of the future.

In addition, during the meeting in Elne, Jean Louis Laville, member of the RIPESS EU Advisory Council, joined us to consider how the Advisory Council could contribute to research within the network, in order to allow for “change of scale” of SSE.

This change of scale must be seen not as a race for growth but as an intense process of disseminating the fundamentals of SSE so that they virally replace the culture of competition, profit at all costs, concentrations of power and wealth at the expense of the quality of life for the majority of people.

By Josette Combes (MES)

How to talk about the societies we want in Europe – new guide
Europe we want

We believe there’s an appetite for change, and that finding new narratives is an important piece of the puzzle

We are happy to share with you a new guide to ways to talk about the sustainable, equitable, inclusive, democratic societies we want in Europe.

This guide has been put together by a collection of civil society and trade union groups committed to building better societies in Europe.

It summarises the findings of a 6–month collaboration including focus groups in five countries aiming to find new hopeful narratives, and makes these core recommendations:  

  • Create conversations.
  • Bring Europe closer to people and their communities.
  • Balance urgency with hope.
  • Lead with strong empathy and equality values.
  • Encourage participation and stress the power people have to change things but where possible emphasise the empathic motivation behind mobilisation.
  • Be cautious when talking about the need for ‘greater participation’, it can quickly lead to negative associations with democratic failures and the rise of the far right.
  • Use the imagery of construction to help talk about community, co-operation and support.
  • Beware the difficulty of reframing—for example when we talk about ‘open borders’ people still hear ‘borders’.
  • Use specific, hopeful examples that signify more caring and equal European societies.

Read the full findings and recommendations at: www.foeeurope.org/how-to-talk-about-the-societies-we-want-in-Europe

Our recommendations are intended for campaigners, communicators, activists and all those who want to create opportunities for citizens to have conversations about the kind of Europe they want to live in. We hope you will make use of them and pass them on.

We would be happy to get your feedback, and to hear about other efforts to inspire more hopeful conversations about the societies we want. You can contact us at new.narratives@protonmail.com

With hope

Francesca Gater, Friends of the Earth Europe

On behalf of CONCORD—European NGO confederation for Relief and Development, Fair Trade Advocacy Office, European Trade Union Confederation, European Women’s Lobby, European Youth Forum, RIPESS EU—Solidarity Economy Europe, WeMove.eu and Public Interest Research Centre.

Independent media talk about SSE
Cover of Stir Magazine Winter 2019

Independent media are close to the SSE, often by their status and especially by the values they defend. But how do they approach it? Here is a selection of independent media articles from the last three months. You can also find them on the map of socioeco.org: Journalism of Solutions (the articles are located in the city where the experience is taking place or, in the case of a general article, in the city where the media is based).

As you will see, the articles are in their original language, due to the diversity of European countries. For Greek, for which the Efsyn journal is particularly present with sometimes several articles per week on SSE, an English summary is included. This will allow you to perceive which themes are covered by these media: sustainable development, refugees, self-management, cooperatives, organic agriculture, etc. Feel free to send us an article or a media site to improve the map and our knowledge of SSE. Write to Françoise Wautiez: fwautiez[at]socioeco.org

Image Cover of Stir Magazine, Winter 19

French

  • Les luttes non-violentes de Rajagopal, activiste indien bientôt à Paris Michel Bernard, Anne-Sophie Clémençon, Article de Reporterre, 22 nov 2018 [lire]
  • Étude de chaîne de valeur soja biologique au Togo, Pierre W. Johnson, Article de Transition et Coopération Pierre Johnson, 2018 [lire]
  • « Nous sommes une start-up anarcho-communiste » : Coopcycle auto-organise les coursiers à vélo, Benoît Borritz, Article de Basta!, 16 janvier 2019 [lire]
  • Ethique Les baskets Veja tiennent-elles leurs promesses ?, Justin Délépine, Article de Alternatives économiques, 29/01/2019, [lire]

English

  • Creating a Solidarity Economy Giving Project, Cheyenna Layne Weber, Article in Philantrhopy Women, 28 January 2019 [lire]
  • Beyond the Market: Housing Alternatives from the Grassroots, H. Jacob Carlson, Marnie Brady, Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Article of Dissent Magazine, Fall 2018[lire]
  • Stir Magazine: winter edition 2019: Looking back, looking forwards [lire]

Spanish

  • Mercados sociales, la unión hace la fuerza, Brenda Chávez, Artículo de El Salto,23/12/2018 [lire]
  • Más allá del mercado: alternativas de vivienda desde las bases, H. Jacob Carlson, Marnie Brady, Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Artículo de El Salto,18/12/2018[lire]

Catalan

  • Mas Corcó: el pagès que fa de forner i el forner que fa de pagès, Articulo de Setembre, 05/01/2019 [Lire]

Italiano

  • “Se trovare soluzioni all’interno del sistema è impossibile, forse è meglio cambiare il sistema”, Pietro Raitano, Articolo de Altreconomia, 1 gennaio 2019 [lire]

Greek

  • ΚΑΛΟ: επένδυση για δίκαιη ανάπτυξη (ESS: investir pour une croissance juste)
    Aristotélis Andréou
    Article of EFSYN, 15/12/2018 [lire]
  • Το εναλλακτικό μοντέλο των πέντε ηπείρων (The alternative model of the five continents)
    Lena Kyriakidi
    Article of EFSYN, 10/12/2018 [lire]
  • Το εργοστάσιο που παράγει… αλληλεγγύη (The factory that produces … solidarity)
    Kostís Roússos, Vangélis Vragotéris, Cháris Malamídis
    Article of EFSYN, 10/12/2018 [lire]
  • Στήριξη με τρία κλικ (in three clicks)
    Article of EFSYN, 08/12/2018  [lire]
  • Προστατεύοντας τους σπόρους ως κοινό αγαθό (Protecting seeds as a common good)
    Lena Kyriakidi
    Article of EFSYN, 26/11/2018  [lire]
  • Ανοιχτή μέρα περμακουλτούρας στο χωράφι της Νέας Γουινέας (Open day in the field at the New Guinea farm)
    Article of EFSYN, 21/11/2018 [lire]
Poland’s democratic spring: the fightback starts here
February 15, 2019
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Article from The Guardian, by Christian Davies, January 30, 2019

Back when Anna Gryta and Elżbieta Wąs started a local campaign to preserve a town square in south-east Poland, they had no idea it would turn them into potent symbols of democratic revival. But almost 10 years since their success in Lubartów, the sisters have become figureheads for thousands of Poles determined to secure the clean, democratic governance promised to them in the wake of the collapse of communism 30 years ago.

It’s a surprising revelation. Poland has become a byword for nationalist populism in recent years as the ruling Law and Justice party defies European democratic norms with its assault on the media and the courts. But away from the limelight, there is a flourishing grassroots movement against the flaws in the country’s democratic culture on which the populists feed. Tight groups of civic activists are notching up success after success across the country on a vast range of different issues – from sex education to air quality and the rule of law, from cycle lanes and public spaces to transparency and participation in local decision-making processes.

Read the article here.

MECISE: European energy cooperatives join forces!
February 14, 2019
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Enercoop article of 29 January 2019

For nearly 4 years, Enercoop and its partners in the European REScoop MECISE project have been working together to develop and strengthen citizen renewable energy projects in France, Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom.

More specifically, the project aims to directly support the development of new citizen renewable energy production projects and to explore new innovative solutions for financing these projects at European level.

The REScoop MECISE (Renewable Energy Sources COOPeratives Mobilizing European Citizens to Invest in Sustainable Energy) project has been funded under the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises since early 2015. It will end on 28 February 2019 and the public conclusions of this project were presented on 22 January at a conference at the Musée des Sciences naturelles in Brussels (Belgium).

This conference was also an opportunity for Enercoop and its partners Courant d’Air (Belgium), Ecopower (Belgium), Energy4All (United Kingdom) and Som Energia (Spain) to officially announce the creation of the European cooperative REScoop MECISE, or Mutual for Energy Communities Investing in a Sustainable Europe. This European cooperative, a concrete and sustainable outcome of the European project, has as its social objective to promote the European energy transition to energy democracy.

To this end, the European cooperative will provide financial facilitation services, mainly in the form of equity financing for renewable energy production projects and should raise funds at European level to support renewable energy cooperatives in Europe

Going beyond simple financial cooperation, REScoop MECISE is clearly in line with the logic of the social and solidarity economy by putting financial tools directly at the service of citizen energy. For Enercoop, the event on 22 January marks both the culmination of several years of work on the design of this new tool and the beginning of a great adventure of solidarity between European partners.

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