Report of the opening session

13 people spoke during the opening session.

It was noted that this 2nd Forum of Progressive, Ecological and European Left Forces, taking place in Bilbao, represents a step forward in comparison with the 1st Forum, which we held last year in Marseille: both in terms of participation and content. We consider ourselves not to be just a meeting for reflection, but also for action, so that the participation of trade unionists and social movements in the debates that we will be holding in the coming days is very important.

The big challenge that we, the forces gathered here, have to confront is helping to prevent only two projects from being put forward to society: Macron’s ultraliberal right-wing project and the authoritarian, far-right project of Salvini and Le Pen. To this end, we must build a project for a new Europe: a Europe of social, civil and labour rights, a fully democratic Europe with the capacity to guarantee all human rights for all human beings.

A Europe which breaks with the false idea that we can only choose between the dichotomy of a return to the nation-state or the development of an ultraliberal European Union with significant democratic limitations.

A new Europe built on new rules on how it operates, which allows safeguard clauses for states with maximum respect for popular sovereignty.

We are faced with the reality that the large coalition of right-wingers and social-democrats on which the European Union has been and is being built may be replaced by a new neoliberal/reactionary coalition – an issue which further reaffirms the need for us to construct our own proposition to confront the previous two.

In order to build our own societal project, we must analyse the profound changes that have taken place in an economy that globalises production while putting all power structures at the service of capital.

Inequality has increased, a large number of people have found themselves penalised by the neoliberal order, people who have been marginalised by globalisation. Military spending is increasing, while poverty and loss of quality of life grows.

The reality is that we are in a time of great confusion for millions of human beings, who feel insecure in their surroundings and, in particular, about their futures, and so the question of security in its broadest sense is at the heart of the ideological debate.

Fear and insecurity generate distrust, delegitimize institutions and are a breeding ground for the growth of the far right, which manages to present itself as an anti-establishment alternative: as happened in the US elections and has now happened again in Brazil. This is why we need to combine the building of an alternative to predatory capitalism with the construction of a retaining wall to hold back the far right in the same strategy – this is the basis of a call to promote a great anti-fascist alliance in defence of life, democracy, social justice, and equality.

We need to show that insecurity is not created by the immigrant, nor by the politics of progress; rather, it is brought about by those who create the conditions that force millions of people to leave their places of origin, it is brought about by those who conduct wars that destroy peoples or who approve laws that make work and living conditions precarious.

Our project for a New Europe has to confront neoliberal models and provide certainties: for those who are suffering from problems in their lives, that the economy will be used for the purposes of improving the living conditions of the people; for those who see the deterioration of the environment, that sustainability will be recovered, because if we don’t protect the environment, there is no life. And we have to be able to incorporate feminism into the heart of social and political action, because it represents a challenge to an unjust model of society which limits the complete development of the human being and of a particular form, women. Change, the alternative will either be feminist or they will not be at all.

From this basis, from this Forum, we want to radiate hope, because we are aware that it is not enough just to have good arguments; we also have to convey feelings and values, when confronted with the demagogy that is trying to turn people into fanatics.

We must offer an alternative proposition that awakens enthusiasm and hope and works from the foundations up, in the neighbourhoods, in the workplaces, wherever people live, work and struggle, because without struggle, without confrontation, without mobilisation, we will not achieve transformation.

That is why the combat of ideas and of the design of strategies to confront shared battles and build one’s own political agenda – so as not to be carried away by the agendas imposed by the most extreme right – is so important. It must be a project for life and for the values of hospitality, cooperation between peoples and solidarity.

We have to come up with proposals for concrete action that allow us to challenge the far right for hegemony.

A far right that is not preparing to make gains electorally, but that is preparing to take power and build an authoritarian, patriarchal society, which consolidates structures of domination and does away with any kind of democracy: a far right that may lead us to the destruction of Europe.

Based on these ideas, it is important to think about how we can continue working after this Forum has finished, taking the ideas and proposals that we are going to address throughout the whole of Europe.

We value the importance of continuing with pluralistic and diverse meeting spaces, and this is why it is very important to reaffirm the commitment to hold the 3rd Forum in 2019; the work of the Progressive Caucus, as a meeting group between MEPs of the Green, Socialist and United Left groups, has also been very positively received.

We consider that diversity is wealth, if it is attached to what unites us, and we banish personalities and divisions, because in this way, we become stronger and we advance what we have in common to a greater extent.

As important as preparing for the 3rd Forum is providing continuity throughout the year for the work referred to here. It is therefore proposed to set up coordinated working groups for the various tasks, so that we can make progress in our cooperation and coordination, in our collective work.

In short, as the title of the opening session of the Forum put it, what is at issue is continuing to build the Forum Together, men and women.