The Political Program of the Ecology and Community Initiative – ECO
Three times ECO – 3ƐCO
Ecology and Community Initiative – ECO is a progressive political party that promotes and favours social, political and economic reform, the result of the founder’s common beliefs and inspired by the principles and objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.
ECO aims to consolidate the work of numerous groups of ecologists and progressive Romanians worried about the lack of attitude of current governments in the face of climate change. ECO will work in policy areas both legislative and non-legislative, at local, national and European level, thus contributing to the efforts of all countries’ forces to prepare the population for the drastic changes that will follow due to dramatic changes in climate.
From a defective welfare system to sustainable development for all
The success of Western democracy after the Second World War was based on national social contracts: citizens paid taxes and the state provided the conditions for steady economic progress alongside secure jobs, a social safety net and redistributive policies that have reduced income and the difference between owners and workers. Although the degree of redistribution and availability of secure jobs varied among countries, most citizens accepted this agreement.
In the last decade, however, globalization eroded the post-war social contract by weakening the nation-state. Increased global trade and financial flows have contributed to prosperity but have also created losers. Income inequality has widened in many countries, and the concentration of wealth at the peak no longer seems to be tolerable. In addition, the 2008 global financial crisis has distorted public confidence in steady economic progress.
Democratic governments are now facing two main challenges in trying to revive their countries’ social contracts. They must provide a strong and effective safety net by adapting policies social and labour markets to the new world of work. And it needs to take concrete measures to deliver global public goods – such as fighting climate change – by providing domestic support for international cooperation.
That will not be an easy task. The economic imbalance, along with concerns about migration and refugees, helped attract neo-nationalist groups to power in several countries. The prejudice brought by President Donald Trump to global rules and multilateral institutions, for example, compresses the difficulties of other national governments in terms of progress in economic and security matters.
Although unemployment has generally declined, new technologies and increased competition from China has created a strong sense of insecurity in advanced economies. True, the digital economy brings a great promise. But it is also disruptive and changing the nature of work – providing less secure jobs and increasing the need for lifelong learning. This also applies to emerge countries.
Therefore, the government’s’ priority must be to update their social and market policies to reflect these digital exchanges. Social benefits must become fully portable and “owned” by workers, rather than linked to a job.
Some support the renewal of the social contract through a “universal base income” (UBI) paid by the state for each adult citizen. But they do not clearly specify the size of the UBI they are considering and what they should replace exactly, and its supply schemes to citizens are simply impossible. In the United States, for example, a $ 1,000 UBI per month would cost as much as the entire federal budget.
A better option would be the Negative Income Tax (NIT) or a “Basic Guaranteed Income” (GBI). Unlike the UBI, a GBI may be more accessible and would give people under a certain level of income an incentive to work overtime with a redistributive effect.
In addition, employees may have individual digital accounts in which they earn points to pay for a retraining and further education. Such a scheme already exists in France and could be extended to include unemployment insurance, personal leave and even pensions. Experts from the Terra Nova progressive think tank, for example, provide a comprehensive system of points that would allow citizens to choose a package of social benefits tailored to their individual circumstances.
Such a system would require protection measures on individual confidentiality and to prevent the use of personal information for political purposes. And although the individual choice is a key attraction of such a system, some protection against imprudence is desirable. But with these warnings, a system of points with fully portable benefits would be suited to the new world of work – and could become a cornerstone of a renewed social contract.
The second priority for societies is to include elements in renewed social contracts that facilitate the provision of global public goods and prevent ‘neighbour-beggar’ policies that produce domestic short-term benefits, harming others and inviting reprisals. Although most policies have mainly internal effects, globalization has reached a stage where certain results can only be achieved through international cooperation.
These global public goods may be of the “weakest” type: non-compliant one or more countries could undermine global efforts to address a problem that affects everyone. Examples include preparing for epidemics, preventing nuclear proliferation and avoiding a race at the base of national tax systems. Other public goods could be considered as “additives”. For example, effective climate protection depends on all countries’ efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
The provision of global public goods is a huge challenge, because, of course, there is no social contract between the citizens and a non-existent global authority. But the proper provision of global public goods requires national governments to be held accountable for the degree and success of their international cooperation in the delivery of these goods.
We see the beginning of such a link between local and global protection when imposing climate protection solutions. In the recent elections in the European Parliament, millions of citizens voted for green parties that have made the fight against global warming their top priority. Leaders, such as French President Emmanuel Macron, have pledged at the national level to cooperate internationally to combat climate change. This suggests that cooperation on securing a global public good can become part of a national social contract.
The difficulty of building a new social contract based on these two pillars should not be underestimated. Taxpayers could give up the cost of providing comprehensive and flexible social policies for the digital age. And waiting for citizens to ask their governments to cooperate more internationally, they may sound naive, given the strange appearance of neo-liberal narcissism (neo-narcissism).
But a renewed social contract that responds to the new nature of work and globalization is essential to reduce widespread insecurity and wrath and ensure the future of democracy. In this respect, the support of young voters around the world for political programs incorporating both pillars offer a strong reason for hope.
ECO aims to implement a coherent sustainable and social development strategy and builds its work on EU internal policies. To support this systemic transformation approach in the context of the climate crisis and to better coordinate political action with the actions of other actors, notably with trade unions and non-governmental organizations, ECO will continue to deepen and expand the way we understand the sustainability challenges and how policies need to be changed to shift the transformations to our ultimate goal – a society that provides sustainable welfare for all and in harmony with nature.
We start from a visible premise: our society is in crisis. This crisis has four components: social, ecological, economic and political, which feed each other.
We can overcome this state by reversing the growing tendencies of inequality and inequality. While we alter how our system operates, our planet suffers from its own crisis.
Climate change and ecological collapse are a direct existential threat to all of us. We, our families and all that we cherish, are in danger. Without immediate and decisive action, we are facing disappearance.
A proactive attitude to the extinction and a drastic reduction of biodiversity are a necessity. Political institutions have failed to propose laws to protect citizens from pollution, prevent the mass extinction of species, and prevent the possibility of humanity disappearing soon. We, therefore unite our forces to determine governments to take urgent action to protect ourselves and our natural world faced with the extinction of species.
We are on the verge of the sixth extinction of life on Earth, the Anthropocene, with 200 species lost every day. With extreme meteorological phenomena on a monthly basis – earthquakes, floods, fires, drought and crop destruction that could soon lead to famine. Hundreds of thousands of lives are lost each year as a result of climate change.
The Ecocide industries continue to be interested only in profit, ignoring the effects of destruction and having no intention of protecting human or non-human life. The media is disinterested in expressing the truth about the hardness and brutality of the ecological crisis, and governments are finding it hard to act accordingly, preferring to prioritize infinite economic growth.
It’s all leading us to disappearance- this toxic system is killing us. Although dominant ideologies show a lack of alternatives, another world is possible and solutions are at hand if we recognize the common roots of the ecology and economy, if a system of production, distribution and consumption that refuses to outsource social and environmental costs to citizens and nature.
What is lacking is political will and a democracy in which our voices can be heard. In order to save us, we will put all the forces at our disposal into play.
It is increasingly accepted that our economies – what and how we produce, consume and how we eliminate waste – ignoring the limits of the planet, which leads us to a deep ecological crisis. Mankind cannot go on like this: We are the exhaustion of our natural resources and fish stocks; we are constantly destroying collective biodiversity, common goods, causing undefined pollution of soils, water and air, destroying our health and emitting more and more greenhouse – gas effect in the atmosphere of the planet. We are at the point where we increasingly exceed human and social limits, because most people struggle to survive, while a very small part absorbs most of the wealth to which we all contribute. These violations have the same origin – the dominant presence of an economic paradigm characterized by neoliberal policies oriented towards the corporate market and sustained by strong economic and financial interests.
The neoliberal paradigm has avoided the desideratum of well-being for all, benefiting only a few, ignoring the problems of the planet.
Governments and institutions act, in the best-case scenario, to limit the excess caused by these interests, to tolerate or even actively support them. The impression that governments are helpless, or that they try to remedy the growing imbalance of power between organized economic interests and the general population has discredited the traditional political system. Ergo creating an even larger space for an interiorise nationalist policy whose unique convictions are xenophobia and instinctive hostility towards the European project, as the EU is lagging to make greater efforts to build a social and ecological Europe. Our social status has been and is having to adapt to the ever-changing market conditions and increasingly cost-intensive competition.
Our society is confronted with the interdependence between the climate crisis and the social crisis.
The social crisis receives little attention from both experts and politicians, despite the fact that there is increasing evidence that unfair societies are dysfunctional: societies with large income disparities among the population are characterized, among others, by a level precarious health, deteriorated social relations and greater violence, low levels of trust, lower welfare and child education, a higher number of teenage mothers, and lower social mobility . As a conclusion, fighting inequality is a win-win for all, and this is basically the original statement of democracy, of equal participation of all citizens in public life. Also, the attention that is paid to the interconnections between the social crisis and the climate crisis inconsistent.
These crises – economic, social, environmental and political – are the result of the dominant economic system. In the absence of profound changes, these crises will lead to the collapse of the democratic system, either because populist-authoritarian and extremist forces will acquire decisive power in Europe, or because these economic, social and environmental crises will be at a destabilizing stage society. A new financial crisis, which some experts have already said, could have devastating effects on our economies, aggravating the still persistent effects of the 2008 crisis.
The continued deterioration in social conditions, fuelled by rising inequalities and growing insecurity, especially in the regions left behind, the rural areas, in urban centres and around them, could pose serious systemic risks, channelling electoral options to populist-authoritarian parties and extremist parties, sometimes to a neoliberal of the elites.
In order to prevent these crises, we insist first and foremost on the re-capacity of people in their quality as creators of the democratic state, drawn from the role of simple consumers, from the local to the national level, and members of trade unions and organizations civil society. In the absence of public participation and the reduction of political life in the electoral spectacle, democracies have become fragile over time as economic power and wealth have been increasingly concentrated, and economic democracy, especially trade union representation, has been weakened.
We will mend this situation. Citizens must be able to defend their rights and demand a fair society, especially at the workplace. Citizens must be able to hold accountable representatives accountable, notably by ensuring high standards of transparency in political decision-making.
A recapacitate of the citizens will enable them to contribute to the remodelling of capitalism, as decades of democratic culture have done in the Scandinavian space. The private sector, especially large enterprises, could play a major role in putting economic, social and environmental sustainability at the heart of their business strategies. Today, on the contrary, we are witnessing a contrary trend as corporate wealth continues to focus, short-term profit takes precedence over any other consideration, and the burden of social and environmental costs are still too easily transferred to society.
Tax evasion and avoidance of tax obligations are amplifying, allowing some of the world’s largest businesses to pay insignificant taxes, while inappropriate and destabilizing business practices continue to affect the financial and banking sector.
Our economies are facing revolutionary changes induced by accelerating progress in digitization, artificial intelligence and robotics, which we should direct to support human welfare by not letting them distort labour markets that lead to an even greater concentration of wealth and income.
In order to ensure that private economic activity takes greater account of social and environmental considerations beyond profit and contributes to a fair distribution of wealth and income, alternative forms of businesses that give the economy more diversified, collaborative, less focused on short-term concerns and profit maximization, encouraging ownership of the external costs generated by business for the entire society.
The expansion of the social and solidarity economy is an obvious and essential way of succeeding in this desideratum as well as providing legal instruments that integrate social and environmental concerns. However, all forms of business should assume responsibility for the social and environmental dimensions. The minimum business obligations to society should be enshrined in legislation, and sustainable public procurement should become the norm. The collection of corporation tax must be much more efficient and progressive, and current initiatives at European level in this regard must be developed and completed.
It is imperative to strengthen the regulation also supervising the financial sector to ensure that they fully fulfil their role of funding the transition to sustainability, provide adequate financing to small businesses and consumers, and recognize and manage new risks, including the parallel banking system.
Social and environmental challenges are an integral part of the fight for justice
The limits of the planet and human boundaries are related. They draw the same line between the old world of capitalism, unbounded and over-dominant greed, and a new world, well-being distributed equitably to all, the capacity of many, humanity that lives in harmony with the planet. Actions that are part of the same story: the extent to which we are harming the natural environment and the climate will be a determining factor for the degree of inequality in our societies, and our level of inequality will be a key factor in determining the magnitude of environmental degradation. The struggle to save our planet or fight injustice is one and the same.
But these are just some of the limits that our economies have the duty to respect and protect. They will also respect and protect certain human and social limits that we should never violate. Our economies will cease generating poverty for millions of people, depriving them of the possibility of a job, covering basic needs or access to decent education and accessible health services.
Our economies and democratic societies will only be viable if they respect fundamental human and social rights and only reduce profound inequities.
Inequality has multiple effects on the natural environment.
Companies with a higher degree of equality enjoy a healthier natural environment and have a greater capacity to become more and more sustainable. Equal societies are even more resilient in the face of political and economic corruption. We are unequal to the ecological crisis. The wealthy and the poor, elders and young people, residents of one area or another will be affected by it in different ways. Those who bear most of the responsibility for this crisis or those who are now trying to prevent its solving are likely to be the least exposed. That is why the ecological crisis risks generating a new source of inequity.
The initial democratic dream of active citizenship has been perverted, as many people have failed to try to shape society through their vote in a way that provides them with sustained and sustainable welfare. The influence of trade unions eroded with the globalization of capitalism. And civil society, despite its dynamism, has never received from the public authorities the full recognition of its legitimate and relevant voice in society, along with trade unions, with various forms of social dialogue and collective bargaining.
Political parties must take some part of the blame. They have not always struggled sufficiently to deepen democracy in all its forms, in the places and times in which they were or are in power. The promise of more participative and deliberative forms of democracy, facilitated by electronic communications, has only materialized in a few restricted areas. Digital democracy is in jeopardy and must be protected against the spread of misinformation and “fake news” online.
ECO will investigate the possibilities of mitigating the crisis caused by global warming and ecological catastrophes as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. This mitigation can be achieved through the development of a decentralized economic sector, autonomous self-controlling and self-consuming technologies. Self-adjusting, non-profit applications built on Blockchain and IOT (Internet of Things) registers will allow for more efficient use of energy.
If capitalism remains unregulated and unverified, motivated by profit, and emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide continue under the current algorithm, then global warming and climate change will be unstoppable.
But what institution will establish a counterbalance “sentiment of limits” on capitalist greed and egocentrism? We consider the State as the executive branch to be inappropriate. The state is a certain type of normative order inherited from the historical point of view, which is constantly subject to political varieties and trends. State power-holders are people who want to consolidate their power at all costs, sacrificing the good of the community for their own use. We need systems of governance and distribution of more decentralized resources than the State can be.
The problem is human-induced climate change. Human society needs a new type of moral authority / anti-authority to operate, to some degree, independently of people. So far, the only remedies mandated by the State have been some attempt to reduce emissions and some possible future climate engineering.
But the only political instance according to the current situation is that which will be equipped with the decentralized / deconcentrated executive power. ECO proposes the creation of Autonomous Institutions operating on constructive principles: root-stems. These institutions will have an elective affinity with AI programs of “deep learning”, in which the software develops itself and learns from its own experience. The major advancement of “deep learning” and “machine learning” in recent years as well as the growing importance of “Big Data” technology have led to the reality that AI is now a major force that influences our lives, society and the economy.
In an ideal economic system, some technologies will not be owned by people. These technologies will be autonomous agents of radical distribution systems.
ECO proposes a three-dimensional economic system:
1. a “market” dimension for growth, free enterprise, competition and rewards for achievement;
2. a “socialist” dimension in which education, health, guaranteed homes, basic income and other universal human rights are publicly managed; and
3. a “technologically self-conscious” dimension specific to the new wave of digitization or industry 4.0, with major implications for decentralization and disintermediation (blocking the “intermediary” as the bank or broker) in peer-to-peer transactions, enhanced code, design, intellectual property, Smart-Contracts, and cost-cutting for business entry.
This process is still underway. Bringing people into a state of impotence, the domination of global capitalism and the apparent inability of politics will continue to grow unless a genuine rebellion occurs. Global corporate giants, which currently have a turnover of between 500 billion and one trillion euros, will grow more and more due to increased penetration of the global market and new technologies. Others, smaller now, will trample them.
This means that the future of our societies, the way we live, the rights we have and the freedom we enjoy will be less and less the result of our political choices expressed through democratic elections and increasingly the result of corporate strategies set up in the council administration where workers or consumers are underrepresented.
By comparison, today’s countries have little power to redefine the terms and conditions in which their societies should evolve in the future in the global economy.
We need to understand the stake and recover a profoundly democratic economic system in which the power of private capital and corporations is kept in balance and balanced with that of workers, employees, trade unions and citizens in general.
We can achieve sustainable welfare for all unless citizens and their various associations regain their civic and political influence by actively participating in the elections, as well as in their decision-making and implementation in the whole society, as well as through interaction continue with the political representatives between the elections.
To empower people, it takes a firm action on three levels of equal importance:
Ecosystems are at the core of life and all human activities.
The goods and services they offer are vital for maintaining well-being and for future social and economic development. Among the benefits of ecosystems are food, water, wood, air purification, soil formation and pollination.
However, human activities destroy biodiversity and affect the ability of healthy ecosystems to produce this wide variety of goods and services.
Scientists predict that an increase in the world population of 8 billion by 2030 would drastically reduce food, water and energy resources.
The disappearance of natural ecosystem services will require the adoption of costly alternatives. Investing in natural capital will bring long-term savings and are important to our future well-being and survival.
It is necessary to ensure greater awareness among decision-makers and the general public about the economic value of ecosystem goods and services. If we refuse to act now to stop the decline, mankind will pay a huge price in the future.
Mankind needs “ecosystem goods and services”
An “ecosystem” is a complex and dynamic combination of flora, fauna, microorganisms and the natural environment that coexist in a unitary and interdependent way. “Biodiversity” encompasses the whole multitude of living elements that are part of these partnerships.
Some ecosystems are familiar to us, while others are more exotic: a meadow is an ecosystem where insects pollinate flowers and herbs. Cattle feed on these plants, and manure, decomposed by soil organisms, contributes to the feeding of the land where the plants grow. Each element of the cycle depends on other elements to survive. Coral reefs form ecosystems that interact with fish, coral formations, rocks, and seawater. Approximately 500 million people worldwide, use coral reefs for tourism, fishing, pearl cultivation and other purposes.
Terrestrial ecosystems offer mankind a wide variety of benefits, known as “goods and services of ecosystems.” The goods produced by ecosystems include food (meat, fish, vegetables), water, fuels and wood, while services are water supply and air purification, natural waste recycling, soil formation, pollination and regulation mechanisms that nature, if left to carry out their task, use them to control the climatic conditions and populations of animals, insects and other organisms.
Since many of these goods and services have always been available to all, outside of markets and prices, their real long-term value has been excluded from the company’s economic estimates.
We identify four different types of services, all of which are vital to human health and well-being:
1. Supply services provide the goods themselves, such as food, water, wood and fibres.
2. Regulatory services control rainfall and rainfall, water (egg floods), waste and the spread of disease.
3. Cultural services refer to beauty, inspiration and recreation that contribute to our spiritual well-being
4. Support services include soil formation, photosynthesis and the nutrient cycle underlying growth and production.
While some important services are still unidentified, it is necessary to have a prudent approach to preserving our natural capital. If we leave things to chance, we will pay dearly.
Evaluating the financial assets and services of ecosystems is a huge challenge.
Loss of biodiversity destroys ecosystem functions. Biodiversity, essential to the survival of the ecosystem, is threatened, and much of it has already disappeared. Changing land use, including the intensification of agriculture and urbanization, overexploitation, pollution, climate change and new species competing with indigenous flora and fauna, all contribute to the destruction of natural ecosystems. After their disappearance, their restoration is costly or, most of the time, impossible.
• 11% of the world’s natural areas in 2000 could disappear by 2050;
• Almost 40% of the current agricultural land risks being allocated to intensive agriculture;
• 60% of coral reefs could disappear by 2030;
• In Europe, up to 80% of the protected habitat types are threatened;
• Human activities have contributed to 50-1000 times the disappearance of species over the past 100 years.
Underprivileged population, especially in developing areas, is the most exposed to the risks of biodiversity loss, as it often depends directly on ecosystem goods and services.
It is obvious that we are scattering Earth’s natural capital at a rate too fast. Conservation of ecosystems is an ethical duty and a practical necessity for our generation as well as for future generations. Humankind must understand that it is more than an episode in the life movie and that it cannot continue to exploit the planet without paying the right price.
Recent developments at the EU level demonstrates that political decision-makers change their perspective and integrate ecosystem health into some of the regional politics.
• The EU Pesticides Directive is being revised to provide a higher degree of protection for certain species, such as bees.
• The EU’s rural development policy for 2007-2013 provided for assistance to farmers who undertake environmental commitments.
• The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy seeks to strengthen the protection of the landscape and reward farmers who go beyond traditional methods and plant bushes, build ponds or leave uncultivated fields.
We need more accurate information to better understand the links between biodiversity, ecosystems and human well-being. We propose the creation of a national scientific and political mechanism to follow up and strengthen the independent scientific assessment and advice of global decision-makers on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Interdependent social and environmental risks and opportunities are identified/capitalized as the economy moves towards the layout of sustainable development.
Recent research has increasingly highlighted this aspect and there are many examples in this area. For example, exceptionally hot and dry weather has had a devastating impact on European agricultural land in recent years, reducing crops and increasing the prices for end consumers.
This particularly affects low-income families, as food is a significant part of their monthly family budget. Equally, it has been shown that underprivileged families are less willing to change their lifestyle in terms of waste reduction and recycling.
In a society where the high materialist lifestyle of the wealthy is overwhelming at the cultural level, middle-class consumption becomes visible to resemble this lifestyle – creating a great burden for the Planet. Environmental challenges are partly social issues that arise from inequalities and inequities in income and power, being the result of the dominant neoliberal economic system.
Thus, inequality and inequity are environmental problems to the extent that environmental degradation is a social issue. ECO will address them together through principles and institutions based on social justice.
The ECO Program recommends two fundamental policy paths to exit the downward spiral caused by social inequality and environmental damage and to enter a virtuous circle of common social and ecological progress. Firstly, we present some concrete recommendations within the strong concept of a “just transition”, which should become a central concept for European and national decision-makers.
Secondly, we highlight the widespread transition from existing social states – defined in the pre-ecological era of the post-war era – to social-ecological states of the 21st century, built to be the powerful public driver of sustainable tomorrow’s societies.
In doing so, we are addressing policies that are directly related to the greening of our economies, such as policies on resource and waste management in the circular economy, machine emission limits, or renewable energy infrastructure. Not because they are nonessential: they are critical. But for ECO such economic measures to combat greenhouse gas emissions will be vital both to avoid climate change and to prevent climate change from becoming a new source and potentially massive inequality.
Therefore, the concept of “fair transition” emphasizes concerns about social justice as a key element of the necessary transformation of our production and consumption patterns.
The idea of ”equitable transition” is the following: presupposes its starting with people as actors and beneficiaries of transformation, rather than considering them as victims or passive targets of transformation that we already experience in the way we move, warm, feed, we use goods, work, organize our free time, and so on. In other words, the concept of “fair transition” fully embraces the three concepts of environmental, climate and energy justice, to transform it into a wider framework for analysis and, ultimately, the promotion of justice and equity through the process of ecological transition.
A decisive feature of the concept of “equitable transition” is the focus on the need to ensure the participation of the whole society and of the workers in the design and implementation of transformation to ensure that everyone can benefit from it and that no one is left after. Equitable transition implies, by definition, a strong and renewed social dialogue between workers, employers and public authorities at each level, as well as strong involvement of local communities in the design and implementation of public policies to drive this transformation process.
By the end of 2019, the first integrated national energy and climate plans are expected to implement the climate change targets for 2030 beyond this year (implementation of the Paris climate change objectives). Although the scale of the social impact of these plans is imprecise, some important measures are foreseen and have been included as references to the “equitable transition”.
Policies aligned with a fair transition should consider two dimensions:
• a forward-looking dimension to engage and support the equitable transformation of our economies and societies; this process can not only address the development of disruptive technologies and the level of investment needed. This process is about empowering people for the necessary technological choices (“an interested party logic, rather than a shareholder logic”), focusing on “demand-side” investments rather than “supply-side” investments. It also refers to the resumption of public authorities (government, regional and local authorities) with the capacity to reform the “markets” from a statistical and long-term point of view in dialogue with citizens instead of “repairing the market and addressing market failures “.
• a more reactive dimension in terms of supporting communities/territories and workers already affected by transformation, including by adopting specific and tailored legislative and financial measures.
The social impact of the decarbonisation of the various industrial sectors and the shift towards a circular economy is a reality and their significance will grow even more. This will be anticipated and managed by national and regional authorities, in close dialogue with the social partners and the affected communities and territories. The key industrial sectors concerned include mining, steel, construction and the motor industry, although each sector is likely to be affected.
The agricultural sector, a large greenhouse gas emitter in the absence of short supply chains, is a key sector in the fight against climate change but also in the wider fight against air, water, soil pollution and adverse effects on human health, and animals.
Agricultural practices play a critical role in biodiversity. At the same time, agricultural activity is fundamental to rural areas from an economic and social point of view. Farmers will have access to decent working conditions and decent living at fair prices for their products. Food provided by agriculture plays an essential role in terms of well-being, and access to healthy food is both a determinant and a major consequence of inequality.
These concerns should be at the heart of the new agricultural policy and should be used as an opportunity to build a sustainable future for farmers, rural territories and consumers.
The key objectives of the reform will include:
• Farmers will earn their living from their work
• Agricultural market regulation measures will be applied and will be effective in case of market failures
• The position of farmers in the food supply chain will be consolidated
• The agricultural policy will support agriculture at the human level, as large-scale business-generating businesses do not meet the desire of a balanced and fair rural economy
• An adequate food and nutrition policy will be developed to protect human health, by re-establishing the link between production, food and health, by ensuring the precautionary principle and by increasing the visibility and accessibility of food for all organic products and quality products
• The transition of agriculture to sustainability and economically viable procedures will be accelerated to meet environmental and climate challenges, transforming agriculture into an important player in the fight against climate change and opting for more sustainable agriculture that respects biodiversity and welfare animals
• Plottable land will be sheltered to ensure that farmers can continue to access land at reasonable prices, that young farmers are encouraged to install and promote short supply chains and local purchases.
Indirectly, but to a limited extent and „unconscious”, social protection systems have progressively begun to face certain manifestations of socio-ecological protection, for example in cases where medical care for pollution-related illnesses is insufficiently covered by the public social insurance system.
By providing social safety nets, social protection systems will also indirectly contribute to limiting the degradation of the environment caused by poverty, although this is a small part of their explicit mission.
As socio-ecological dynamics are rising – because pollution is causing diseases more and more, because extreme weather phenomena are increasingly affecting people’s living standards, or because increasing inequalities bring new environmental damage – social states must rise to obstacles with which they will have to deal with.
The road to human security involves changes in the ecosystem
The Man is very active in his interactions with the flow of water: on the one hand by using and adding contaminants, and on the other hand by direct interaction and ecosystem modification, particularly vegetation, soils and water streams. The vegetation can be cut (deforestation) or altered (agricultural development, reforestation) to cover the needs of the society for food, fabrics/clothes, wood/timber fuel and others. The soils are handled by remodelling the surface of the land by ploughing / cultivating, draining, waterproofing urban areas and so on. And water flows are handled by drilling and pumping groundwater for rural and urban water resources through pipelines and canals to transport surface water to cities and industries as well as irrigation schemes through reservoirs and dams / dams to secure the reserve water from the season with surplus water resources and its use in the season with water deficiency. Tanks can be used to control flow, reduce downstream flood risk and provide water resources during droughts of the year.
Human activities are driven by social requirements to support life – water, food, wood, energy and shelter. Society leaders expect or at least facilitate access to these goods and services essential to eradicating poverty and population welfare (vital for humankind).
ECO strongly calls for the institutionalization of the ecosystem
We request the establishment of institutions that adopt and support the abandoned pillars of the Romanian Ecosystem.
Institutions are created according to the needs and perceptions of the population. The Romanian institutions (divisions of the Ministry of Environment) as they are designed and how they work are largely based on presumptions: that water is unlimited, that the forests are regenerating on their own, no matter how much I cut them, that there is an unlimited space for waste disposal and ignoring systemic roles. Institutions focus on individual allocation, without removing outsourcing, the minimal state leaving the burden of civic involvement to NGOs. Paying increased attention to ecosystems in integrated resource management will require flexible, conditional, adaptable and time-based allocations, outsourcing control, and system-based organizational design.
The decision-making and political level will be improved in order to achieve a balance and make the necessary difficult decisions necessary for the harmony between development and the functioning of the ecosystem. The ability to balance and define ecological “baselines” between social, ecological and economic use depends on the flexibility, resilience/adaptability of social/political organizations and institutions. There is also a need for a “new” system approach and organizational design for water management that integrates ecological perspectives. These efforts must be reflected in legislation, policies and institutions that relate to the resources that make up the ecosystem. We will apply the participatory approach and the active involvement of all relevant parties.
Through political participation, we will achieve the desired balance and results by reaching mutually beneficial solutions. Changes are inevitable but should be done in a manner that ensures the ecological resilience of base ecosystems. The approach by NGOs can help, but the ultimate definition of social resilience will be of a political nature.
We need an economic framework that highlights ecosystem goods and services
If natural ecosystems are unprotected, the goods and services that result from it will become more and rarer and demanded. For example, at this moment, the amount of water we pay is rarely true to reality, a situation that we will become aware of and monitor.
The European Environment Agency has highlighted the need to adopt accounting techniques for ecosystems to analyse the relationship between the economic sectors and their dependence and impact on ecosystem goods and services. Eventually, this knowledge will be used in policymaking and local resource management processes.
In many states of the world, payment programs for ecosystem services are being developed. These are essential for rewarding adequately landowners who protect valuable ecosystem services for society.
Remodelling by empowering the financial sectors
Employees and workers are facing difficult living conditions due to low wages or unfavourable working conditions and are forced to address the public health system to treat physical or mental illness resulting from their professional activity. The company must support the costs of current profit-oriented markets. It can be argued that by paying taxes, companies offset these costs by financial transfers.
However, the private sector, especially larger tax evasion firms and sophisticated tax planning schemes to reduce their fair tax contribution, representing a very inefficient system in comparison with an ecological system that would prevent the production of these damages and costs.
The financial sector is acting against the society interests by actively adopting and facilitating tax evasion strategies globally and fuelled the worst economic and social crisis in the post-war period, by irresponsibly engaging in broad speculative activities. In recent decades, the concentration of large-scale multinational companies in several key sectors has increased due to free trade and capital movements in large areas around the world. Many of these companies have aggressively sought to gain access to a cheaper workforce and to a lower level of labour standards offered by this (neo) liberalization wave to build global value chains fuelling social exploitation and environmental damage.
Although this model of production brings some immediate economic benefits to poorer countries, environmental and social conditions, including precarious workplace conditions, occupational safety and health, and job security, are affected. The relative ease with which global enterprises resort to the relocation of production (often in low-cost countries) creates additional risks for jobs.
The economic power resulting from these trends has an increasing impact on democracy. Large businesses use influential lobbying activities to defend their special interests, often against the common interest. There are no real compensatory powers, except for voting. Often, citizens are under-informed or even manipulated, when trying to define their own opinions. Trade unions, a traditional counterpart to corporate interests, have lost ground in many countries, both because of the erosion of membership and because of public policies and governmental approaches to weaken their role.
Larger businesses also exploit the smallest ones by using abusive margins and late payments, thus directing additional value to the peak of corporate wealth. Corporate wealth registers unprecedented levels. Only 147 global corporations, accounting for far less than 1% of all businesses, control 40% of global wealth, and of these, 100 large companies account for 70% of global warming.
This economic power questions the future capacity of the whole society of all to keep control of our common destiny. Market value and corporate wealth are not the only issues. Several multinational enterprises are involved in large-scale research programs related to artificial intelligence and robotics. It would be naive to see these technological advances only as a new source of prosperity and human progress.
If governments and society united will not capitalize on these powerful changes in the interest of everyone in the coming years, they will lead to a higher level of exploitation and a greater concentration of wealth, creating division towards society and threatening the foundations of democracy. Corporations are key actors in shaping the type of society we all live in. To build a truly sustainable society, they must play their part. Some will naturally be more inclined than others to do so, and some larger businesses have already been involved in several forms of socially responsible corporate activity and sustainability.
However, this situation is far from being a standard. Time is running out and it’s too late to hope that good intention will materialize at a certain time away from the future. Governments need to take responsibility for redefining the market procedures so that enterprises cannot avoid the fundamental social and environmental responsibilities they have. They cannot endlessly profit from a system that they themselves are the first to undermine it.
In this respect, the current dominant position of business-oriented forms of profit and capitalism is the most inappropriate form of economic structure for a sustainable society. Other forms of collective economic activity have demonstrated their ability to deliver products and services both locally and at higher levels inefficient ways, using different ownership structures and a mixed economy, thus respecting social and sustainability responsibilities more extensive and sharing the gains from their economic activity in fairways.
They also showed greater resilience during economic crises, especially in terms of job protection. We believe that a truly sustainable economy will be one in which a wider range of different, even hybrid business forms grows and coexists so that the mainstream of profit-oriented logic becomes less dominant in our markets and maybe, on the long term very long, will no longer prevail as the main economic form.
A pluralistic and diversified economy
In order to ensure that economic activity in the private sector takes greater account of social and environmental aspects rather than making profits and contributes more effectively to a fair distribution of wealth and income, ECO will promote alternative forms of economic, for the economy to become more cooperative, less focused on short-term needs and maximizing profits, and more responsive to the external costs it generates the overall activity of an enterprise.
The expansion of the social and solidarity economy is an obvious way to achieve this goal and is crucial.
Among the main characteristics of the social economy, which distinguish it from the dominant business model, are:
• the person’s supremacy (human supremacy over capital)
• Sustainable growth (profit loses position to final goal)
• social and economic balance (social objectives have a central role)
• Democratic governance and responsibility (democratic, transparent and participatory decision-making culture)
The social economy is manifested in a wide range of sectors and continues to spread. It is an engine of social innovation, solidarity and social investment. It often has a key role to play in territorial and local development, especially in the countries where it has reached the highest level of development, such as Italy.
The level of employment in social enterprises, cooperatives and worker-owned enterprises appears to be more stable during periods of recession. As far as cooperatives are concerned, there is evidence that this is because employees tend to place job security first and wage second, because their incentive structures support solidarity in terms of employment and, for which reason reductions or salary reductions are recorded during periods of recession. Other social economy organizations could have faced difficulties.
In a sustainable society, the social economy will be considered more than an additional element or a limited alternative to the dominant business model of business, but a long-term integration model for a truly sustainable economy, both from socially, ecologically and democratically. The social and solidarity economy should be supported in view of this objective – expanding activities well above the current level of employment, as well as creating the possibility of developing hybrid business models. This will require a much more ambitious strategy than the one currently prevailing.
Businesses, cooperatives, mutual aid societies or social economy associations should also play a key role as a key factor in economic and social development. Public or non-profit public institutions such as drinking water companies, energy distribution system operators, hospitals, city utilities, public housing companies or public transport companies can play a crucial role in combating inequalities and promoting sustainability.
Undertakings can make a substantial contribution to one of the EU’s six environmental objectives, without prejudice to each other. These objectives are:
1. mitigating climate change,
2. adaptation to climate change,
3. sustainable use and protection of water resources,
4. the transition to a circular economy,
5. waste reduction, reuse and recycling,
6. Preventing pollution and protecting healthy ecosystems.
Public procurement of goods and services is a significant part of the social economy, now incorporating a wide range of social and environmental criteria that can be considered, although they are non-binding, being specified in a range of different sectors.
Approximately half of all purchases are the result of awarding contracts on the lowest price criterion to the detriment of projects that consider the social and environmental dimensions.
ECO proposes new legislation to emphasize that has “the most advantageous offer economically” does not mean the cheapest offer but the offer that considers the life cycle costs.
Public authorities at all levels should be encouraged and supported to aggressively apply the social and environmental criteria and, in this respect, appropriate monitoring is needed to understand the extent to which those criteria will be applied. Basic social and environmental criteria, as well as a demonstration of enforcement and enforcement, will become mandatory in future public procurement legislation and be accompanied by a wider range of criteria that can preserve their character guide.
Effective collection of corporation tax
40% of global multinational profits are flowing into tax havens. Endless tax scandals related to tax evasion and tax evasion involving corporations, financial institutions and wealthy people have shown that current tax systems are incompatible with a sustainable development agenda.
It is continuously avoided to allocate massive financial resources that should help ensure the proper functioning of public policies and services, including the construction of basic infrastructure and social investments such as quality education and support services quality medical; Instead, they stimulate increased concentration of wealth and inequality. Rapid globalization and digitization of the economy have been made to the benefit of large multinationals and wealthy businesses.
In order to ensure sustainable welfare for everyone, the establishment of a European tax system, renewed, fundamentally equitable and effective is indispensable. Combating tax evasion on a European scale needs to be continued and completed and lowering national tax regimes to a lower level should cease. Policy measures can be implemented largely at European level, based on what has already been achieved in recent years. However, measures are also needed at the national and global level.
A responsible and inclusive financial sector
A sustainable society requires a financial sector that is beneficial to the real economy and is geared towards providing financial support for the transition to a fully sustainable economy from the environmental and social point of view. The financial crisis that began in 2007 highlighted the inadequacy of the financial services regulatory framework. In the years before 2007, financial influence groups supported the wave of the market economy that dominated Western culture, helping to eliminate important legal and regulatory barriers that prevented the existence of high risk and opacity in the system. Financial markets have rapidly become more crowded, deeper, more complex and interconnected worldwide.
Wider participation and attitudes towards higher risks by a growing number of financial actors such as pension funds or insurance funds as well as the aggressive behaviour of private equity and hedge funds have led to the wide spread of risks across the economy. In the last decade, there have been major improvements in terms of prudential requirements, leverage, resolution frameworks, transparency and clearing of derivatives, credit rating agencies, hedge funds and the parallel banking system.
However, incentives for asset managers and investors are inappropriately aligned. These incentives remain largely in contradiction with those of society. The primary reason is that, at present, concerns about sustainable development and related risks are very small in the legislative and regulatory framework of financial services. By ensuring that the financial rules comply with the sustainability objectives, there would be a substantially wider impact on the private sector.
Therefore, we will focus on the specific role that the financial sector should play in contributing to the transition by moving towards a resource-efficient, circular and resource-efficient low-carbon economy at the protection of biodiversity and the fight against the depletion of natural resources, as well as the need for the development of fair, inclusive and resilient societies.
ECO recommends five policy lines through which this will be achieved:
1. This taxonomy framework should bring together environmental factors including the risks of climate change, biodiversity, waste, pollution, water safety and deforestation and, more generally, the concept of planetary boundaries; social factors, including human rights (free, prior and informed consent of local communities), customary rights, workers’ rights, women’s and children’s rights, health and safety; governance factors – corporate governance, tax strategies, remuneration and measures to combat corruption, data protection, tax evasion, tax evasion and money laundering.
2. Private funding must assume corporate responsibility: all investors and asset managers will integrate financially the significant social, environmental and governance risks in their investment decisions will at least consider the important societal risks. They will have the duty of diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for all environmental, social and corporate governance factors and risks and be held accountable if they fail to fulfil their obligation. To address the lack of alignment of incentives between managers and investors, the fiduciary duty to act in the interest of the enterprise imposed on managers should be more than a mere maximization of value for short-term shareholders, it should specifically recognize creating long-term value.
3. Better calibration of macro-prudential incentives and deterrents would help to adapt to a low-carbon economy: investment and bank lending shape our society, but incentives and deterrents are not calibrated in a way that considers sustainability. The specific capital surpluses for “brownfield investments” and the specific capital cuts for “greenfield investments” would shape the way in which the flow of credit flows to businesses and households. In addition, since the gradual removal of brown assets to deal with the massive systemic risk they are associated with, a crisis-resistance test for banks can make these risks visible and help speed up the phasing-out of assets impaired. Supervisory authorities will be responsible for conducting these stress tests.
4. The supervisory authorities will also fulfil their obligations. Risks and environmental, social and governance risks will be included in the mandate of the European System of Financial Supervisors – the European Supervisory Authorities should assess the relevant significant risks, including those related to the valuation of impaired assets, and should implement appropriate monitoring systems long-term. This will reflect the use by the Member States of mandatory carbon emission tests designed to measure the exposure of financial corporations to climate change risk and to energy-intensive sectors where assets are subject to depreciation.
5. Small and medium-sized enterprises, micro-enterprises and millions of consumers, especially if they are deprived of the possibility to offer real guarantees or guarantees, are deprived of affordable access to finance. Similarly, many young people wishing to set up their own businesses or to develop creative activities find it difficult to do so due to lack of access to credit. Innovative financial instruments, such as micro-credits, participatory funding, venture capital funds and supply chain financing, are important tools for promoting financial inclusion. These can be promoted by developing appropriate safeguards and/or creating “social entrepreneurship funds” at the national level to increase financial inclusion and social entrepreneurship
Green Computing, green software for computational systems
Green Computing is the study and practice of efficient use of computing resources. Global use of computing resources, both servers and desktops, continues to grow dramatically:
· A portable computer, used every day, generates about 40 kilograms of greenhouse gases each year.
· Desktop computers used in the same way can generate between 200 and 500 pounds. More than half of this is from using the monitor.
· An LCD monitor generates about half of greenhouse gases than a conventional CRT monitor (tubular cathode). Adjusting lower brightness may reduce emissions to a quarter.
Simply turning off computers and equipment when unused reduces greenhouse gases, prolongs the life of the product and avoids a potential fire hazard. Using a Linux operating system (such as Ubuntu) that requires fewer resources than many other operating systems on an older computer as a backup or file server could replace the current Windows licenses present in millions of offices and public institutions. The result (theoretically) is a huge energy saving because the CPU remains in low power mode for longer periods of time during system operation.
There are opportunities to reduce the environmental footprint of computers by carefully selecting hardware and improved IT networks.
Economic success in the information society complements its dependence on technological inventions with factors of knowledge development and information exchange. The effort to regulate these factors today through the patent system is diametrically opposed to our goal of promoting freedom of knowledge and human culture.
Patents and Free Culture
Patents should be excluded from the scope of non-substantial, trivial “inventions”, computer programs, business models, or aspects of nature. These types of patents hinder the development of information society and lead to the privatization of common goods. Small and medium IT companies across Europe prove that patents on programs are a precursor to economic success. Innovators need to be properly rewarded, and thus avoid granting monopolistic privileges that stifle innovation and adversely affect access to essential goods.
The years ahead are rapidly turning into some of the best years of experience for the innovations brought about by IT technologies. While there is still a lot of exaggeration around patents that use IT technology and a lot of uncertainty about how the next industrial revolution may or may not be, one thing is certain: the cost of production will continue to decline while quality continues to grow.
This development can be traced through advanced technologies that become accessible due to the expiry of key patents on pre-existing industrial processes.
These expiring patents – many of which were issued just before the end of the century and end at the end of their lifetime – release the monopolistic control over the processes that have long been held by the original discoverers and this process will open a long list of business opportunities for young entrepreneurs.
ECO requires gradual taxing on patent revenue and for “expired” patents a pass in the Public Domain with free access to all documentation.
The EU, the Member States and other industrialized countries must not force the less developed countries to accept patients that are likely to be harmful to their essential needs, opportunities in the areas of health, education or development.
ECO opposes more and more frequent abuse of patent privileges, such as the introduction of false drug changes before patent protection expires. Non-competitive practices such as payment of competition to delay the marketing of generic medicines should be actively hampered. We support the establishment and funding of alternative methods to stimulate pharmaceutical innovation, to gradually replace patents in this area. Our goal is to break the direct link between the reward for research success and the price of the final product, to make sure that medicines are accessible to all.
Universities and research institutes should be able to carry out scientific research for health and medicine without patents.
Free programs reduce administrative costs, promote local technical support, and increase the ability to identify harmful code. This will lead to the public sector migration to free programs and the elimination of dependency on specific providers.
Free Culture is an important resource for education and creativity in society. ECO advocates for the promotion of artistic activity and cultural diversity that can provide a rich artistic and educational environment for current and future generations.
ECO is stating that the free circulation of knowledge and information is essential and must be promoted and guaranteed in education. Educational institutions should increasingly use the learning resources available under free licenses, where there are no restrictions on copying.
Technological progress creates new opportunities to share and develop knowledge, as well as to learn concepts in an international area. To take advantage of these opportunities, we are supporters of developing and supporting free and open educational materials.
The availability of educational materials based on free licenses is essential for unrestricted access to education, both within and beyond the EU borders.
Technological change for the benefit of all
The speed of technological developments and significant advances, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, or genetics, remain insufficiently understood by policymakers and elected representatives. This leads to a high risk that such changes will be wrongly anticipated / appropriately targeted by appropriate policies. The estimated social and environmental impacts will be considered when funding research based on mission-oriented strategies consistent with the UN’s sustainable development goals.
Our social system will be under great pressure because a significant number of existing jobs will be eliminated by new technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics. In order to facilitate labour market transformations, to protect people and living standards, these systems will be adequately funded and organized.
This process must be started now. In many countries, training and retraining programs are of low quality and need to be improved. Education systems need to be adapted to prepare children and young people for the growing importance of new education technologies and skills. Financial reserves (Social Transition Funds) will be set up by the government and will be funded mainly by taxing the digital economy.
Increasing the number of jobs on online platforms, busy jobs, ride-sharing jobs and fictitious independent activities generates grey areas of regulation, and this is to the detriment of high-quality jobs in terms of social protection or wages. Almost 62% of jobs in Romania are in danger of disappearing because of the automation of activities, the highest rate in the European Union (EU), where the average is 54%, according to a study published by the Bruegel Institute.
Eurozone countries will suffer the most from the monetary union, given that the development of robots’ capacity to learn and increase their mobility will mainly affect low-wage jobs and low qualification requirements that are immune to the past to automation.
These “grey areas” will be considered. Strict labour market regulations will be applied in all areas. In this way, new technologies could bring benefits to society, allowing for the creation of new jobs in activities that promote a way of organizing many more productive and consumption patterns that are more cooperative and more sustainable.
A good and efficient functionality
Observing the Romanian community from a systemic point of view, we find exaggerations in the choice of targets, inconsistent with the existing resources, along with multiple functional errors of the internal systems, such as impatience, greed, corruption and neglect.
Although the legal conditions for good and efficient functionality are met, the de facto situation is far from satisfactory. Following the accession to the European Union, the free movement of persons, funds and goods was guaranteed, which would have to solve many of the systemic and constructive problems. However, there are many divergences between Romanians living inside, between Romanians living inside and those living in the Diaspora, between Romanians and other nationalities, between Romanians and foreigners from other countries, between young people and the elderly, etc., which can be solved only through negotiation and dialogue.
The contractual analysis of this finding demonstrates where the imperfection lies: free flow is mainly done from the inside to the outside for people and in the opposite direction for commodities, leading to population decline and the economic decline of the country.
From a systemic point of view, the Romanian people will set targets that are consistent with the resources they have to achieve, and from the constructal point of view, they will create connections that should allow them to reach the largest international spiritual and economic networks.
Generating social and environmental progress
People’s re-capability, the remodelling of the economy, and the realization of social justice for people and territories can only be achieved by considering the ever-growing links between social and ecological challenges. This dimension of sustainable development, namely the interaction between humans and the planet, has been neglected. We will focus on inclusive development (where people and the economy interact) and the green economy (where the planet interacts with the economy). Environmental challenges are, in part, social issues arising from inequalities in income and power. Thus, inequality is also an environmental problem, just as environmental degradation is also a social problem. ECO will develop programs to address them jointly through principles and institutions anchored injustice.
Policies and actions aimed at re-capping citizens and restructuring our economies must be combined with a series of policies that specifically address poverty and inequality in gender, income, wealth, origin and residence. We believe it is fundamental for our societies to achieve social justice, that is, the situation where no one is left behind and in which we understand that we will all live worse if people lack a decent life and sustainable well-being. We will strive to fight poverty, ensure quality jobs and adequate pay for all, full gender equality, real social mobility and a very ambitious and renewed approach to the issue of territorial inequalities.
Beyond the problem of poverty, we propose reversing the trend of increasing social fragility and the precariousness of everyone’s lives, including large parts of the middle class. Equality between women and men deserves special attention in order to completely eliminate gender pay gaps by specific legislation by striking a balance between work and personal life by means of sufficiently ambitious rights to maternity leave , paternity, parental and childcare paid, and by adopting a series of measures to improve the general situation of women in society and to promote their full participation at all levels. Social mobility needs to be increased through measures specifically aimed at quality childcare and quality education for all.
Inequality is largely anchored in territories, where people live and work. In order to achieve social justice and well-being for all, it is essential that we focus on all places and address the regions and regions which are lagging in structural terms and whose potential is wasted.
Society is based on fairness and solidarity within and between generations and territories, from the local to the European level and in terms of gender equality. No person or place is left behind.
We want a society that naturally tends to provide equal rights and opportunities among which gender equality occupies a central place. We want a society that is naturally willing to achieve sustainable development, which has a built-in capacity to effectively address sustainability challenges, no matter what their scale.
The approach we want to consider both the need to address the traditional forms of poverty and social exclusion and the social difficulties affecting many social categories, particularly because of the development of poor forms of labour, the poverty of the employed, the inadequate recognition of gender equality rights and the socio-economic difficulties faced by a middle-class member.
The gradual elimination process of the middle class will be reversed, and poverty and social exclusion will also be eliminated. The middle class faces a series of threats and difficulties, such as income stagnation, fear of instability or job loss, and a growing fear that the future will be worse than the present or past, especially for their children.
The community is based on a reference-based approach to adjust calculations for people at risk of poverty (monetary poverty).
The community will become an integral part of the governance process in the next government session and in a future cycle of sustainable development.
This commitment may seem unrealistic, considering the experience of previous governments.
We regard the fight against poverty as “the most important of all struggles” in building a solidarity society. The drastic reduction of poverty will have very profound and many positive effects on our society.
We believe that this fight against poverty is one of the best long-term investments that our societies can do. Poverty reduction will also improve the fight against environmental damage and increase our collective resilience to future environmental disruptions, especially climate change.
Long-term measures mean measures for our children. By developing a strategy that combines several aspects, from nutrition to social housing, from education to healthcare, it was cast back that underprivileged children carry emotions, diet, trauma, safety concerns, dental problems and so on their way to school. If we want to help the children, we must solve all the problems they face.
Housing is a fundamental right and need. It is a determinant of well-being, especially for the more disadvantaged families. However, the tough reality is that strong groups live in high-quality housing, while weaker groups live in precarious housing. This reality leads to a profound imbalance and fuel inequality, generated by a structural shortage of accessible and public housing throughout the country.
Inappropriate housing conditions represent more than just discomfort. It is known that they hamper the quality of child development and generate inequality of chances. Dwellings inadequately isolated, precarious and overcrowded have an impact on household energy and health costs.
There are several steps that can be joined to build decent housing for everyone, like the following:
- Exempting investments in social infrastructures – such as social housing – from the obligation to comply with tax rules to facilitate such investments and to protect them in times of economic crisis
- Including affordable and quality housing indicators in a revised governance process at government sessions. Public subsidies and loans should be combined with rent regulations, rental ceilings and price caps to prevent the capitalization of such subsidies and to ensure the safety of the workplace
- ·Preventing land and buildings speculation through zoning regulations and government financing tools to encourage affordable rental housing, such as the introduction of a development/housing fund for federally / local limited profit entities
- The protection of the primary residence against seizure by banks in case of over-indebtedness
- Clarifying how social housing should be addressed in European legislation on services of general economic interest in order to ensure legal certainty for local, regional and national public authorities regarding constraints on State aid rules and a broad spectrum of interventions through investments in social housing by public authorities
- Anti-speculation policies aimed at the explosive growth of short-term rentals for students to protect the regular property market
- A national fund for the renovation of buildings for energy efficiency, including multi-dwelling residential buildings in the social housing sector.
Everyone has the right to an adequate income to integrate into society people who for various reasons are excluded from the labour market. By including this right in legislation, it is ensured that the state sets up adequate systems to guarantee a minimum income for people living at the risk of poverty.
These schemes will be complemented by governmental child guarantees with specific childcare facilities to cover childcare costs and school costs, housing or energy costs, healthcare costs, and support for food. Aid for minimum income must be defined as the level at which people can have a way of living compatible with human dignity.
The minimum levels of social protection are sets of basic social guarantees established at a national level, which will guarantee, at least throughout the life cycle, that all the people who need access to basic health care and the security of a basic income, which together provides access to several nationally established goods and services.
The minimum social protection levels established at the national level will include at least the following four social security guarantees, social rights to be respected at the national level:
• Access to basic health care, including maternity care;
• The safety of a basic income for children, to ensure access to food, education, care and other necessary goods and services;
• The safety of a basic income for the working-age who are unable to obtain enough income, especially in cases of sickness, unemployment, maternity and disability;
• Safety of a basic income for the elderly. Such guarantees should be provided to all residents and to all children as provided for in national laws and regulations and subject to existing international obligations.
The cultural destruction also threats to the national identity and the notions of “us vs. them “often appear directly or indirectly in the speech of those who oppose immigration. The extent of these identity concerns largely depends both on the speed of migration to a certain area and on how immigrants can integrate into society, in which case social integration can be seen from two perspectives. For immigrants, it means developing a sense of belonging to the host society.
This fact often implies acceptance and action in accordance with the values and norms of society and, if necessary, the construction of the social capital deemed necessary by the host country’s institutions, including basic incomes and decent housing, and education and skills relevant to the labour market in the host country. The role of indigenous peoples is equally important: social integration is only possible when immigrants are accepted as members of society.
Such mutual recognition, in addition to improving individual well-being, leads to a higher level of social cohesion and has significant economic implications. In the absence of effective integration policies, emigrants remain captive in poverty and social exclusion. Various commercial practices have come to exploit the gaps in the legislation to create different jobs that do not guarantee adequate rights and adequate income.
Internships are increasingly abused because young people find it harder to find the right job, the number of precarious and atypical jobs increases, and many people must work part-time or short-term contracts against their will.
Also, the number of new forms of work in the online sector is increasing, often using fictitious independent activities in cases where there should be an adequate employment contract with adequate social rights and retirement.
Sustainability requirements require a different approach to this compromise between growth, job creation and environmental protection. A crucial objective for the future is to reach wages corresponding to a subsistence level, but this will have to be a progressive process in order not to disturb the market.
One of the oldest forms of inequality in our societies is gender-based inequality
It is more difficult for women to succeed in working life when they must cope with most maternal and parental responsibilities, as well as domestic tasks; women still receive lower wages than men for equal work, which also translates into lower pensions, and women are disproportionately victims of domestic violence and harassment at work.
Women face a disproportionately higher volume of private and professional lives than men, including domestic abuse and violence, and moral or sexual harassment. Public policies need to be strengthened in order to put an end to these difficulties. We will act to:
• eradicate violence against women by following the way the provisions of the Istanbul Convention, which Romania ratified, apply;
• ensure that public and private organizations and businesses adopt effective policies against sexual and psychological harassment;
• guarantee sexual and reproductive health and related rights. The right to access to safe and legal abortion must be considered a fundamental right, including comprehensive teenage sex education and access to affordable contraceptives and support services;
• fiscal and social security policies will include a gender perspective, particularly as regards the priorities of public spending in times of crisis. Also, women continue to be less involved in corporate decision-making and political life. The political participation of women is still unbalanced. Measures at different levels of political representation are needed to achieve gender parity. On a more general level, to ensure this, in a wide range of policies that are indirectly related to gender issues, but which are relevant to promoting gender equality, gender mainstreaming and gender mainstreaming approaches in the budget should become systematic.
A society open to all
An important dimension of inequality is related to the social mobility of individuals as well as to social groups. Social mobility will be optimized both within the same generation and between generations, both in absolute and relative terms.
Different factors contribute to determining social mobility, such as education, the type of job opportunities available, wealth distribution and pay levels between different types of employment. Educational outcomes tend to be closely related to the level of parenting.
Whether public policies disregard the shortcomings in terms of social mobility or policies are ineffective. The quality of childcare and education systems remain the best tools to increase opportunities and stimulate social mobility.
Other factors that determine social mobility are also very important for the more disadvantaged and underprivileged, including the living conditions for poor-school children related to very specific aspects, such as living quarters or eating. Developing social upward mobility will be an important part of the ECO fight against inequality, with a focus on the most vulnerable groups.
It is well understood and known that education is a very powerful tool for creating equality, equity and opportunities. However, the current education system lacks initiatives that, according to the 2014 UNESCO definition, “allows each human being to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to create a sustainable future.”
ECO will look for short-term solutions to bind the deep wounds in the Romanian educational system: lack of social investment, inefficient educational concepts, under-trained teachers or socially polarized schools contribute to the existence of inequalities in different ways.
Power for citizens
Democracy is in danger. Over the last few decades, citizens have unintentionally lost the power, while more and more influential corporate interests and dominant neoliberal vision have gradually imposed their group interests, limited ideas about what is possible, and promoted excessive individualism and insecurity.
People are involved from the local to the European level as active citizens, economic actors and consumers; in the conditions of the re-capacity building of the trade unions, all these factors can play a central role in a vibrant participatory democracy and in a living civic space.
This means that the future of our societies, the way we live, the rights we have and the freedom we enjoy will be less and less the result of our political choices expressed through democratic elections and increasingly the result of corporate strategies set up in the council’s global leadership.
Romanians in the European choir should understand the stake and recapture a profoundly democratic economic system in which the power of private capital and corporations is kept in balance and balanced with that of workers, employees, trade unions and citizens in general.
We have no chance to achieve sustainable welfare for all unless citizens and their various associations regain their civic and political influence by actively participating in the elections as well as in their decision-making and implementation in the whole of society, as well as through continued interaction with political representatives between the elections.
To empower people, we will call for firm action on three levels:
1. Democracy will be vigorous and collective action in its various forms
2. Unions will regain robustness and all social partners will be strongly involved
3. Civil society organizations will play a strong role in a vibrant and comprehensive civic space
A strong democracy
Transforming our societies into communities capable of achieving the sustainable welfare of the crowds cannot be and will not be a top-down approach imposed by the elites.
The essence of sustainable development is participation, empowerment, transparency, engagement and responsibility – from the individual to the collective.
The dominance of market-focused societies, with their primary focus on individualist “rights”, perceiving the citizen as a consumer and hierarchical employer-employee culture, diminished the role of citizens as actors of democracy.
Representative democracy is insufficient to protect democracy as a backbone of the organization of society, especially if economic democracy itself is losing more and more ground in a representative democracy.
In this respect, the link between persistent poverty and exclusion on the one hand and the support given to nationalist and authoritarian political forces – on the other hand – seems to be the most dynamic and threatening feature of many national democracies today.
Empowering people as citizens, employees and consumers must be a central axis for a sustainable society. It is difficult to address the complex challenges of ecological and social sustainability without consolidating and expanding participatory democracy beyond the ballot box. This requires several policies leading to this re-capability.
Social partners involved and robust trade unions
We need a balanced, relevant and representative social dialogue and collective bargaining within sectors and territorial levels promoted through “trade union policies” at the national level the number of union members has fallen in recent years and, even where it grew, this increase is disproportionate with the increase in the number of employees. Lack of employment in traditional syndicated sectors (manufacturing and public sector), the development of non-traditional forms of work and employment (such as part-time or digital work) and government policies and attitudes aim at undermining the role of trade unions are all factors contributing to the weakening of workers ‘and employees’ representation and collective participation.
Although the EU has limited competence in this area, it can and should promote trade unionization in multiple ways, increasing the relevance of trade unions, social dialogue and tripartite consultation.
Such a contract would combine the most relevant approaches to consolidating democracy through a wide range of policy measures, for example:
• Strong trade unions to defend workers’ rights, backed by broad employee involvement in their own businesses
• A vibrant civil society of non-governmental organizations actively involved in political processes, on an equal footing with corporate representatives, providing a living and ample civic space
• A broad and strong culture of transparency in public decision-making processes, parliamentary work, property ownership, wages, corporate governance (including tax) and consumer information on products
• A full gender balance in terms of rights, remuneration and participation in politics and the economy
• Inclusive territorial development policies, including interaction with organizations and citizens on the ground
• Sustainable welfare as a central political objective (instead of GDP policy) supported by clear and relevant goals and indicators of well-being and sustainability that enable citizens to understand and appreciate public actions and performance in ways that are relevant to their life
• A strong participatory democracy, adapted to all levels of government, from the local to the European level
• Press and judiciary that are independent of political influence to diminish corruption and professionalism.
• Public policies that actively support independent news and professional journalism and enable them to better support investigative journalism by providing better access to public information to counter the spread of misinformation and online fake news.
An additional and important dimension of vigorous democracy will be political parties. They are an essential element of representative democracy but will need to proactively integrate participatory and popular dynamics when defining political positions and encouraging relevant actions. Modern technology simplifies this desideratum, but party-political culture remains largely reluctant to move from a downward approach to an ascending approach. Progressive parties engaged in building sustainable societies will have to be at the forefront of such an approach.
Traditional boundaries between parties as institutions and wider networks of organizations and individuals sharing similar principles will be overcome by common goals pursued by a wide range of entities and individuals.
A dynamic and ample civic space
The civil space is the cornerstone of any open and democratic society. When civic space is open, citizens and civil society organizations can organize, participate and communicate without hindrance. In this way, they can claim their rights and influence the political and social structures around them.
For progressive ecologists, a dynamic and comprehensive civic space is an indispensable and powerful factor for change. In Europe and at all levels, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are at the head of many major battles for achieving a sustainable welfare society for all. Dynamic and positive interaction between progressive political organizations and parties, trade unions, academia and NGOs are the most powerful engine of change and will often make the difference because none of these actors is strong enough to succeed.
Achieving this dynamic civic space to counteract the current inertia of the state becomes more relevant than ever when proposing a policy agenda on Eco-social transformation, due to the numerous resilience encountered in its realization and the complexity of the political strategies on which it is based.
It is therefore essential that the governors provide a dynamic and comprehensive civic space and develop highly productive, mutually stimulating and supportive interactions between all these groups of actors.
This civic space will be free of boundaries, giving freedom to political participation for citizens and organizations. All electoral competitions will be held according to the Constitution, removing restrictive and biased legislative cosmetics from the race. The majority of the European countries have found ways to isolate the political and partisan electoral administration by establishing truly autonomous, professional, non-partisan and independent national electoral commissions, that work as an independent branch of the government. ECO calls for the imposing of urgent measures so that representative / impartial elections can be done in Romania, both in practice and in the display.