Category Archives: PES and sister parties

Join us on Thursday for the sister parties reception!

Here’s a look at some of our upcoming events:

New Year reception of Democrats and Socialist sister parties in Brussels

Thursday 10 Feburary 2011 | Residence Palace restaurant, Rue de la Loi, 1000 Brussels (just behind the Justus Lipsius building) | 18:30 – 21:00

Please click here for more details

Brussels Labour AGM + Commissioner Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

Wednesday 23 March 2011 | Further details to follow

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‘Treat the cause, not the symptoms’ – Damanaki’s antidote to ‘austerity mania’

Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Social justice, solidarity and the danger of deep public cuts were the issues tackled by Maria Damanaki, the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, when she spoke to Brussels Labour in September 2010. The timing of her speech on the European Debt Crisis and the European Left was particularly apt: the Commissioner had just emerged from talks on the financial package of responses to the banking and financial crisis, while the debt crisis in her native Greece remained a core concern for the European Union.

The Commissioner’s frank and critical approach to the subject reflected one of her main messages: the need for socialists to speak out and tackle the debt crisis head-on so as to reclaim ground lost to the centre-right in diagnosing and treating the problem. For Mrs Damanaki, socialists have understood better that the problem lay in poorly-regulated financial markets, but somehow our voices have been drowned out in the argument over solutions. It is painful to see how centre-right governments are putting forward our diagnosis and claiming it as their own whilst at the same time gambling with jobs and livelihoods of working people through proposing deep public sector cuts which may put future growth at risk. Continue reading

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Labour Party conference: FEPS meetings

Next Left: Insecurity, fairness and the new social democracy

Monday 27 September, 0800 to 0930 // Lord Mayors Parlour, Manchester Town Hall, 2 Albert Square, Manchester M60 2JT

John Denham MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government,

Dr Alfred Gusenbauer, Former Chancellor of Austria,

Catherine Fieschi, Director of Counterpoint

Sunder Katwala, General Secretary of the Fabian Society

With the support of the Fabian society

European Social Democracy: The Path Back To Power

Monday 27 September, 1230-1430 // Midland Hotel, Alexandra B

Roger Liddle, Policy Network

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Party of European Socialists

Claude Moraes MEP, EPLP Deputy Leader

Roland Rudd, Business for New Europe

Rushanara Ali MP

In cooperation with the European Parliamentary Labour Party

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Commissioner Damanaki’s speech to Brussels Labour in full

On Wednesday 15 September, Maria Damanaki, the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, spoke to Brussels Labour. Here is the full transcript of her speech:

The European debt crisis – lessons for the left


Dear colleagues/comrades, I would like to thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to address you today. I think it is very important that we increase our cooperation inside the European socialist family. I know that the Brussels branch has been very active all this years, and has played a historic role in our political family. I thank you for it. Such collaboration is particularly important in this period when the majority of European governments are led by more conservative voices.

I agreed to speak today about the European debt crisis, a fundamental problem that we need to tackle urgently. Many in the socialist family insist that the European debt crisis is one element of a much wider issue, namely the European economic crisis. And rightly so. Look at the forest, not just the tree.

We should be careful however not to let this very valid point dilute the importance we ascribe to the debt crisis, and to the concrete responses we must take. Look also at the tree, not just the forest. Continue reading

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Sp.a conference

by Belinda Pyke, Chair, Brussels Labour

Sp.a, the Flemish socialist party, held its annual conference in mid-October in Brussels. Frazer Clarke and I took part in the programme for international visitors on behalf of the Labour Party. The Party’s international secretary, Said El-Khadraoui MEP, greeted visitors and chaired the opening session, a panel on social democracy in Europe. The other panellists were René Cuperus from the Dutch socialists (and an unsuccessful candidate in the EP elections) and Javier Moreno, MEP between 2004 and 2009 and now Secretary General of the Global Progressive Forum.

The central question for the discussion was why, despite some political successes in recent national elections (notably around the edges of Europe – Greece, Norway, Portugal…), the overall results for socialists were still poor – cf the EP election results – so how can socialists become once again the biggest political force in Europe. Not surprisingly there were no clear answers, and the discussion swung between the pessimism of Cuperus (whose thesis is that socialism is threatened by a pan-European populist revolt to which Christian Democrat parties are seen as offering a more stable solution: see his recent article) and the optimism of Moreno who pointed to the basis for the PSOE success ( a leader, a programme, a plan to mobilise the voters – and a record of delivery once in government). Their views differed too as to whether the EU was an obstacle (Cuperus seeing it as inherently technocratic and illiberal) and Moreno arguing more for the opportunities it presents if underpinned by a clear social democratic vision. He gave the example of the financial crisis and the Forum’s recently launched campaign on financial reform.

The afternoon was devoted to workshops. One of these, on family policy, included a speaker from the UK, Kate Green from the Child Poverty Action Group, who reported on the development of family-related policy under Labour. She described the impact of the minimum wage and of the childcare strategy pointing out that, however, the focus on work as a way out of poverty had meant that greater attention was being given to the quantity of jobs and not enough to their quality. She noted too that there can be contradictions between policies for children and those which support greater labour market participation, citing the example of pressure on lone mothers to return to work yet incentives for mothers in couples to stay longer out of the labour market. In her view, there is an opportunity for a new debate on the left on all these issues especially at a time of recession.

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Standing in the Brussels regional elections

by Yonnec Poulet

Running in the 2009 regional elections in Brussels was a fascinating experience. It was my second campaign, having run for the regional elections in 1999. The elections took place in the context of the financial crisis and its hard impact on the daily life of citizens. My campaign therefore focused on social issues and on how to improve the lives of residents of Brussels. Despite being a rich area and the capital of Europe, Brussels faces serious social problems with high levels of inequality.

The PS promoted projects such as employment (especially for young people, as it abnormally high in Brussels), housing renovations, greater mobility, and better infrastructures for youth. With such initiatives, significant improvements can be made in Brussels. We want Brussels to remain affordable for everyone and to ensure a high quality of life. Thanks to the actions of the Socialists, in governments for many years, we succeeded in renovating many of the poorer neighbourhoods and create new housing. A lot remains to be done, however, so were we campaigning energetically to promote our values and our project. Continue reading

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German SPD after the federal elections

by Dr. Frank Michlik, LL.M (Cantab.), Member of the Executive Committee of the SPD Brussels

On 27 September 2009 federal elections were held in Germany. The results for the four parties which will be represented in the Bundestag (Federal Parliament) were as follows:

CDU/CSU: 33.8%
SPD: 23.0%
FDP: 14.6%
Die Linke: 11.9%
Grüne: 10.7%

The CDU/CSU will form a coalition with the Liberals (FDP) for the next German government. The SPD lost 11.2% of votes compared with the last federal elections in 2005 and more than 50% of the absolute votes compared with the 1998 elections (20.2 Mio in 1998, 10.0 Mio in 2009). The worst result for the Social Democrats in a federal election in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany has brought an end to the grand coalition between CDU/CSU and SPD.

These are the mere facts, but what are the reasons and what does the future look like for the SPD in Germany? Continue reading

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Party of European Socialists – PES

The PES is probably of particular interest to members of Brussels Labour.

Individual members of Europe’s Socialist, Social Democratic and Labour Parties – and thus of Brussels Labour – are all members of the PES through their national party membership. They can now become directly involved in the PES by becoming PES activist. This important decision was taken at the PES Council in Vienna in June 2005 with full support of the member parties.

Being PES activist offers a new level of involvement for members, complementary to that on local, regional or national level.

Activists can ask questions directly to politicians, take part in discussions with other European socialists and social democrats on a variety of topics, give input on PES policy discussions,  establish political links with local individuals and branches in other PES member parties, receive information on what other European socialists and social democrats are up.

In addition, there are opportunities to attend events such as the PES Congress and Summer University.

Go to www.pes.org for more details on how to become a PES activist – and also for information on PES events and activities.

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