Another World is Possible

Barcelona European Council

This is a public and globalized challenge. In addition, it is the subtitle of the 1999 edition of my book THE THIRD WAY, of which, since its publication, I have sent more than 500 copies to the European Commission and Parliament. Few and concise acknowledgements of receipt. The rest ignore the obliged courtesy. A special letter from Mr. Romano Prodi, in which he tells me: Thank you very much for having remembered me by sending me your book “The Third Way. Challenge for the European Union.” Contributions to our discussions on how to attain full employment and to stimulate the economy are always appreciated.”

Mr. Pedro Solbes, Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, in answer to the letter accompanying the book, responded with an acknowledgement of receipt by a certain Mr. Luis Planas, who I presume must be someone on his staff.

I keep this limited collection of autographs of presidents and high officials of different departments, governments, syndicates, political parties, banking and parliamentarians, as evidence of the books distributed.

Later I will come back to the meaning of my challenge.

There is no doubt that another world is possible. I subscribe to the objective; I disagree with the means used to achieve it. The objective is to combat poverty and defend dignified life. The means utilized begin with protests, some spontaneous, others organized, but both insufficient if you want changes in the economy. Protesting without accompanying alternative solutions is inoperative. What doubt is there that a better world can exist where the human being, without wishing to be rich, intends to cover all his necessities, form a family and not be overloaded just to survive! Within the world conscience, all of us are equal, with the same rights and obligations, without any class of discrimination. Dividing humanity in the immensely rich and the absolutely poor, whether at the level of individuals or nations is an injustice. It is also unacceptable that the temporary leaders, who today believe themselves to be indispensable and who tomorrow lose favor in the ballot boxes or their own party and will be candidates for oblivion, put so much effort in protecting their personal positions in order to elevate their egos, without it bothering them that they are ignoring initiatives that can make the fight against poverty easier. They will have to answer to eternity.

This editorial is the next to the last, divided in two parts. The last one will be to express my thanks for adopting my suggestions to initiate a new economic order based on work. I hope and want to be able to write it.

I accompany this editorial with two allegorical pictures, one in this first part, symbolizing the present forces that govern the world. In the center of this theater of comedy is the impoverished John Hasnothing, symbol of poverty, who does not have a penny to his name. On his left, the universal religious conscience accompanies him, who with benevolence advises him to behave correctly. On his right, the guardian of the traditional values, in attitude of command and control, reminding him that you cannot play around with his power. To the left of poor John, in the background, the wild beast of economic power, lean, egoistical, watching all changes, scanning the horizon for the place where he should give a new claw blow in order to increase his treasury, mocking the temple at the back, the sign of an inexorable end for all, being sure of the permanence of his power.

Naturally there could also be the beaten figure of a poor civil servant who is catching his breath, an innocent shipwrecked person among the multitude of concepts or words that he cannot digest at the same time, such as guidelines, reports, packages of measures, recommendations, proposals, processes, recitals, rulings, growth, opportunities, directions, objectives, strategies, policies of this and that, enterprising spirit, coordination, acts, steps and, of course, all the synonyms, antonyms and opposites that correspond to them, without forgetting the horizontal objectives, one of the star interventions of the lexicon of the European Union.

The meaning of the picture that initiates the second part of the editorial, I will leave to free interpretation.

Commentaries on the Conclusions of the Presidency of the recent Barcelona European Council of March 15-16, 2002.

It is evident that for the front-row actors, presenters of the results, it was a total success in setting timeframes and establishing ambitious policies for the relaxation of the energy markets, of capital and labor, which will permit, they say, the elimination of rigidity and the advancement towards full employment. Objective: to create 20 million jobs by the year 2010, with the condition that the Fifteen are capable of putting into practice the policies agreed upon. They promise concrete results in labor mobility; they affirm “that liberalizing is not going against social justice”. However, the statements by Tony Blair were surprising when he expressed: “There exists the impression that the people want us to put concrete proposals on the table, not just declarations of intentions”. I ask: Aren’t results preferable to promises?

Seeing these disconcerting opinions, it is prudent to turn to the documents of the European Union regarding the Conclusions of the Presidency of the Barcelona European Council to see if the excellent results achieved are only declarations of intentions.

Document No. SN 100/02 ADD 1 EN of the European Union with the

Conclusions of the Barcelona European Council
March 15 and 16, 2002

Without doubt, the conclusions are, taken together, a description of future objectives, in the medium and long term.
With reference to the euro, it was affirmed with pride that “what the European Union can achieve when the political will is there” and then it was added, “the same political will must be harnessed toward meeting the economic, social and environmental objectives.”

I add that the lack of political will is a constraint for development because the primacy of national interests is evident and the strategies of the political parties are imposed. It should be added, also, as a negative factor, the arrogance of those exalted individuals in the front line who never listen: they only delight in the modulations of their own voices when they speak, even when they say nothing.

It was recommended to maintain the momentum of the EU behind the long-term strategy. Coordination of fiscal policies, with sound public finances and budgets close to balance or in surplus by 2004. Continue to examine the long-term sustainability of public finances, particularly in the light of the budgetary challenges of the ageing of the population. (No proposals, only recommendations.)

In this context, “it endorses the “Key Issues Paper”, basis of the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines which identify key economic challenges and propose concrete measures to tackle them.”

Regarding the sustainable development we read the following statement of principles: “Growth today must in no event jeopardize the growth possibilities of future generations”; adding: “The Sustainable Development Strategy means that the various policies should be consistent with the Union’s long-term objectives.”

An indiscrete question: Where is the concrete planning to create the 20 million jobs by the year 2010?

In the Presidency Conclusions, it is stated that entrepreneurship and a well functioning internal market are key to growth and job creation. The Commission will present (future tense) a green paper on entrepreneurship before 2003 without discriminating against small and medium-sized enterprises, with the particular need to reduce the administrative burden on the SMEs (but it does not propose any initiative to promote or stimulate the creation, financing and development of new SMEs.)

The Council of the European Commission proposes: “Horizontal objectives to create ideal conditions for full employment in a society based on knowledge”, thus:

II. Develop an Entrepreneurial spirit and the creation of jobs.

Make the creation and management of enterprises easier, how.

“The creation of new enterprises in general, and the contribution to the growth of small and large enterprises (SMEs) in particular, are essential factors in the creation of employment and of training opportunities for young people. This process should be encouraged through the fostering of a greater entrepreneurial conscience in society and in training programs through clear, stable and reliable regulations and the conditions for the development of high-risk capital markets should be improved, as well as the access to them. The Member States should also shorten and simplify the administrative and fiscal burdens on the SMEs. These policies should reinforce the prevention of non-declared jobs.”

In summary: With the Project of this Web site, I offer action, access to structural financing and results for today. The European Commission gives advice, prepares guidelines and invents policies. Responding to Mr. Tony Blair, I will say that, precisely, “the people want the European Commission to put concrete proposals on the table, and not just declarations of intentions.” Proposals create jobs; declarations of intentions do not appease hunger.

Upon mentioning the SMEs, I will review a bit of history by detailing a sequence of measures that ended in the constitution of the SMEs in Spain.

The XIX Investment Plan and the General Standards for their application were put into effect by Labor Ministerial Order of January 25, 1980. Objective: promotion, protection and support of employment. The workers’ limited companies were being regulated.

In 1984, I published the book The Third Way with reasoned criticism of the abovementioned ministerial order, pointing out a set of incoherencies and with the affirmation that such measures “can promote employment but they are not capable of creating any new economic labor order”. Unfortunately, to the detriment of the working masses, time has shown me right.

Countering the mentioned ministerial order, I suggested the “Access of the workers to ownership of the Enterprises” through the Partnership Contract that I have summarized in the last three editorials of this Web site.

By the law of the Workers’ Limited Companies of April 25, 1986, the Workers’ Companies are legally regulated, a law which I classified as a bungled legislative job, as it tries to fulfill, according to what is expressed in the declaration of purposes, the mandate included in Article 129.2 of the Spanish Constitution. That law promoted the SMEs in Spain.

In 1999 I published “The Third Way, Challenge for the European Union”, insisting on the Partnership Contract in order to reach full employment, with assured financing.

I insist on differentiating my Project that is totally directed towards creating immediate jobs and aspiring to full employment, with what in the high realms of the European Union call with emphasis:

“Proposal for COUNCIL DECISION relating to the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States for the year 2002”

From the Presidency Conclusions – Barcelona, I copy textually:

A reinforced Employment Strategy

30. The Luxembourg Employment Strategy has proved its worth. The 2002 mid-term review of the Strategy must build on its achievements, and incorporate the targets and goals agreed at Lisbon. In this regard, the Strategy must:

- be simplified, in particular by a reduced number of guidelines, without undermining their effectiveness;
- align the time frame with the Lisbon deadline of 2010, including an intermediate evaluation in 2006 to monitor achievement of the Stockholm intermediate objectives, as defined by subsequent European Councils.
- reinforce the role and responsibility of social partners in implementation and monitoring of the guidelines.

It would be very useful if the European Commission would explain what are the “horizontal objectives” and The reinforced employment strategy (and if they serve to feed) the millions of unemployed in the Member States and the millions in the 12 countries who aspire to enter the Union, so they remain calm, silent and encouraged.

Meanwhile, perplexed, I continue asking how are they going to create 20 million jobs by the year 2010, with just generalized recommendations.

I reaffirm in the “Challenge for the European Commission” contained in the 1999 edition of my book, which includes a Project for concrete, immediate economic development, of which they have knowledge from the books and personal letters I have sent them. I repeat the challenge here, publicly and globalized, in case they do not understand it, or have forgotten or fear being shown in a bad light. If they have lost the books, they can turn to this Web site, which, as I have pointed out, appears in Spanish, French, English and German and explains the Project. I play fair with a public challenge in order to clarify for them how the financial system works, which is autonomous in the generation of resources to promote the new economy based on work, WITHOUT COSTS OR DEBTS, that I describe in detail and THAT THIS PROJECT DOES HAVE THE POTENTIAL FOR ACHIEVING FULL EMPLOYMENT IN THE SHORT TERM and the immediate massive creation of jobs.

If this challenge turns into smoke for lack of interlocutors, it will present an image that I do not know how to define. At the least it will mean the lack of arguments to counteract the project of The Third Way, this one, not the others.

Next May 1, as homage to workers, I will publish the second part of this editorial Challenge for the European Union (2) with the following script:

Monterrey Conference to finance the development of impoverished countries.

Proposal for creation of a European Development Fund, with a regional scope, promoted and formed by the 12 aspiring countries, with the objective of accelerating and guaranteeing their incorporation in the European Union.

Francisco Montaner

Globalizing housing with zero cost