What it has become increasingly difficult for social movements to envision another Europe from below. The latest contribution to ‘Europe2025’ series of Social Europe.
Progressive social movement organisations have long been critical of the European Union—and progressively more so. Yet at the same time they have sought to promote ‘another Europe’.
They Europeanised their organisational networks and action strategies, developing cosmopolitan identities. As with the labour movement during the development of nation-states, they seemed destined to play a valuable role in pushing for a social and democratic Europe. At the beginning of the millennium, cosmopolitan activists of the global justice movement (GJM) developed significant critical visions of Europe, elaborating complex proposals for reform of EU policies and politics.
The financial crisis, and especially the EU’s response of austerity—the treatment of Greece epitomising an increasing market orientation, with less and less attention to a ‘Europe of the citizens’—has certainly frustrated hopes for a social Europe. The promotion by the EU of a narrative of the crisis as the responsibility of the weaker countries and the imposition of neoliberal programmes, oriented to the mantra of privatisation, liberalisation and deregulation, have not only made for ‘social butchery’ but also promoted competition among countries, through the (unsustainable) idea that all member states must simultaneously build an export-oriented economy.