• 06-MAR-2014

  • SOURCE: S&D Group at European Parliament

Europe Must Change Direction to Fight Inequality

Europe must end austerity and turn towards a growth-friendly policy to reduce inequalities. This is the main message from the speakers at the end of the second and last day of the Progressive Economy Annual Forum in Brussels.

The Progressive Economy Annual Forum 2014, entitled 'Inequality: consequences for society, politics and people' today welcomed Joseph Stiglitz, economist and Nobel prizewinner, and Martin Schulz, the progressive candidate-designate for president of the European Commission. The conference also gathered S&D Euro MPs, academics, policymakers, experts and other stakeholders from around the world.Opening the conference today S&D Group president Hannes Swoboda said:

"Progressive Economy is about an alternative to what is done today by the European Commission and the conservatives in the majority of member states. Our message is clear: we want a fundamental change in economic and social policy in Europe."

Martin Schulz stressed:

"Inequality has many faces. Inequality produces countless individual tragedies. But inequality also threatens the political, social and economic fabric of our societies as a whole."

He identified "three key battles" in the fight against inequality where the EU could make a difference: financial-market regulation, tax fraud and social dumping.

"Together we can stop the race to the bottom, where countries compete against each other on who has the lowest workers' rights, the lowest environmental standards, the lowest corporate tax rates. To make people's lives better we must restore the primacy of politics over economy. And change our policies.

"A social market economy and welfare state. With guarantees of access for everyone to education, to health care, progressive taxation, social dialogue and partnerships, pensions and unemployment insurance. A society that puts people at its heart."

In a detailed and well-received presentation, Joseph Stiglitz underlined that in equality has works en in Times of recession. For 99% of Americans, there was no recovery" he said.

We "need a comprehensive progressive agenda" to reduce the gap between rich and poor. "There is no magic bullet", he said and the problems have long been festering.

He stressed the need to focus on enhancing equality of opportunity through education; promoting full employment by ending austerity; and promoting industrial polices oriented towards innovation.

Available content includes an edited package.

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