Regeneration of a dream: Manifesto for European Common Goods

It was 2011 and I spent a lot of time at home beating a breast cancer that was starting to change the direction of my life.

We had recently founded a “Strategy Group” and constantly did scenarios on how the world would change. Gavin Tulloch, Alessandro Politi and I spent hours trying to figure out which road the crisis would take and what could be our role in building a better world.

One day, while washing the dishes, I heard some news about Greece on television, and suddenly everything became clear. With Gavin and Alessandro I began to write a manifesto for European Common Good. We were not sure where we would end up but we went forward with our dream in the pocket.

Immediately Francesco Alemanni and Angelo Bonelli joined us. Dario Tamburrano translated our writings into many other languages and Angelo Consoli led him to the European Parliament.

TV and Corriere della Sera came and the article with my interview on Greece reached 40,000 readers on the web. We soon conquered the front pages of many newspapers and they came to interview us from all over the world: from Europe to Latin America. The Manifesto for European Common Goods was signed by thousands of people: from the rectors of universities to DJs, from housewives to professionals. It was a global success.

We arrived to Brussels where the Manifesto was signed by Jo Leinen and Gianni Pittella, current vice president of the European parliament, who organized a presentation of the Manifesto to Parliament.

Then everything stopped (perhaps we had provoked an outcry at a time when you should not be talking about the rights of ordinary people, but of banks and megaliths) and we had to make a life decision.

We decided that we would address small businesses and the people who create them and help those people to tell their stories and to show their creations through Energitismo. To give voice to those Specialpeople who were being choked by the crisis. And to tell the stories of the Specialplaces, stories that encourage more and more people to come back to love their land where they live, to consider the place where they live as their common good and to take care of their country.

Meanwhile, on this nostalgic day I took out the Manifesto, where we started, and republish it.

The crisis affecting the global economy and consequently the Euro during these past few months requires a radically different response from those actually envisaged and carried out. The way Europe and European governments and electors handle the Greek and other sovereign crises will set an important precedent for the next crises and their entailed risks of sovereign defaults.

But what is Europe? In last years we have created a common lifestyle and a common way to look at the relationship between common good and common goods. We are European people and we want back our dream of peace and social structure. If political institutions have failed, Europe need that people take a proactive role to preserve our identity and our wellness.

The probable decisions by the Greek government, practically left alone as have other governments in similar deficit crises, are based on the massive sale of public goods to unspecified buyers in order to raise the money necessary to guarantee the rollover loans.

This is not only a wrong decision in political terms, but also in practical terms. Politically we have had ample experience in the past quarter of century that deregulations and privatisations were not synonymous with efficiency, new investments, modernisation and competition.

On the contrary, there is a long list in Europe and around the world, of resounding failures and actual destruction of value by the same market forces that were extolled as the long lasting solution to any national and international economic problem.

The last financial, market and economic global crisis has shown beyond any doubt that markets alone are not capable to rule themselves, that there is no invisible hand balancing the different interests and that public money has rescued the same oligopolies that were supposed not to exist in a healthy competitive environment, fostered by a deregulated market. There is no free lunch and there is no unregulated market oriented to a common good.

We believe strongly on ethical and political grounds, as well as based on practical experience, that public policies are not just to regulate a neo-laissez-faire, nor just to support private interests in the name of a supposed national competitiveness, nor just to redistribute a dwindling income.
Public policies have to work for public interests – all the public, under democratic oversight, which means that they have the task to foster public goods and long-term investments, supported by an efficient management and by a meaningful taxation for the good of society.

Instead of letting Greek or other sovereign European goods be sold at a great discount price either to major powers that have a strong interest in controlling markets in order to strengthen their competitiveness (at the fatal expense of our interests) or to private investors that are totally irresponsible to societies, electors and national interests, we propose to use in a more effective way the public money we already spend in EU/ IMF loans and in ECB support measures.

Greek public goods, as those of other possible critical countries, should be entrusted to a public European economic conglomerate, supported by a popular shareholding scheme, in order to raise directly from governments and regional institutions the necessary money.

This allows us to preserve vital interests both at European and national level with two advantages:

• the goods are redeemable by the interested country in due time and at reasonable conditions while in the meantime they can produce proportional profits to the governments, and they are managed taking into account both economic and social needs. Where sovereign funds are available, we do not see why public-owned enterprises should not be feasible under appropriate management and oversight.
• the goods are preserved as European economic, social and industrial assets, instead of being dispersed and exposed to a very uncertain future. Europe has created a formidable integrated entity, especially at the economic level, so it would be economic destruction suicidal if, in times of a top emergency, Europe would refrain from carrying out such a no-nonsense industrial policy to protect its economic, industrial and social assets.