Interview with Anna Skrzypek, Secretary General of ECOSY

Do you think the European Socialists can gain more seats in the European elections this June? And what can we do to win these important elections?

To be a socialist is to be an optimist :-) Running a campaign towards the elections, any elections, you have to believe in your agenda, in your capacity to deliver what you promise and the potential to gain support from the voters for it.

I believe that the socialist agenda of the PES outlines the challenges that Europe and the world are facing at the moment, and also points out the possible solutions. It has a unique value of combining our core principles of equality, social justice and solidarity with a search for new policies. The PES is a well established political family that is listening to people and responding to the challenges they face, including the contemporary concept of work, how to ensure lifelong learning and how to empower individuals to adapt in a rapidly changing world. I am convinced that this can inspire voters throughout Europe.

ECOSY has adopted its own manifesto Change for Europe. Could you tell us more about it and why is it so important?

“Change for Europe” is a Manifesto of our generation, young socialists and social democrats. It consists of 9 priorities that we commit ourselves to work on, struggle on and hopefully see fulfilled!

The process of its creation originates from jubilee of ECOSY 15 years of history, during which we adopted a declaration on how we see Europe and the world in next 15 years, after our generation is to have completed our most intensive, promising years of constructing our own policy agenda. It was presented for the first time as “9 deliverables” to 2000 young people at the ECOSY Summer Camp in Carpentras, France – where our journey to promote it actually began.

We see 3 important goals for this Manifesto and our campaign around it to fulfill. First, it is a contract – that we young generation – sign with Members of the European Parliament, candidates, NGO’s and partner organisations. It is to serve to both uphold to the electoral promises that we are positive we can deliver, as also to ensure for ECOSY a strong position on the European level after the elections – as for an organisation with a clear mandate and action plan. There are many supporters, who have already signed and commented on it – which you can see checking “Supporters” and “Interview” sections of ECOSY website Secondly, it is to serve as an inspiration for the debate for members and their partners. This is why the concept of “29 debates” place such an important role.Within its framework we are trying to hold one debate per country (in Czech Republic that took already place at the MSD Congress). The sort of activity is decided by the member organization, as ECOSY wants to be
most useful – and that means rather adjusting ourselves to the members’ practice than deciding from the ECOSY office in Brussels what seems best. Thirdly, the Manifesto in itself opens up the possibilities for further elaboration on the future of Europe – and this is precisely what we need the socialist family to do. Having defined 9 key priorities, we have gained a good base to work on in order to construct the new, modern 21st century agenda for Europe and its people, as also for the changing world. Our “Change for Europe” provides a good outline for a good ideological debate – what for example a concept of work means today (Deliverable 1) and what is therefore an idea that we have for a post-Lisbon reality, to name just one example.

What are the socialist solutions for the times of economic crises? Are you in favor with more regulation and if you are, what should this regulation look like?

The financial crisis, followed by economic one is going to be most likely followed by the democratic crisis – as there is no way for people to trust the politicians too eagerly after what is happening to their jobs, pensions and savings.

The regulations of the market are necessary – as the market can not subordinate all other policies, but ensure means such a growth in order to put labour and social policies at the place. This is why socialists are so strongly advocating for: transparent regulations; for access to information both as far as citizen’s accounts are concerned, as also as far as the future of enterprise the workers are employed at is concerned; as also for strengthening public sector to create through quality social security a safety net for those who are most vulnerable in the crisis times – such as women, young people, elderly. The job loses and poverty on the other hand, shall in our opinion be tackled through strengthening strategies for more and better jobs, through investing for example in innovation and green technologies. As socialists we also believe that European Union shall also play a key role in reconstructing the international finances and institutions, as also making sure that the crisis is not going to impose withdrawal from pledges that mean lives for many – such as Millennium development Goals.

I believe that the response of the socialists is a beginning of a new era. Reading the Manifestos of PES, ELDR and EPP – you get an impression that all three advocate for more regulations. This is a sign that a traditional conflict line about the free self-regulating market is getting passé – being replaced by new one, which is to touch upon the vision for society and individuals in 21st century. I believe that as socialists we are prepared to face this challenged and therefore I am convinced that this is going to be a test we are to accomplish well, re-establishing ourselves as leading modern strong political family.

Which are the most important social democratic values we should always keep in mind and never resign to?

We should always keep in mind that we are socialists and social democrats, and be proud of our almost two centuries struggle for equality, solidarity, justice, democracy and peace. Politicians, who in fear of their own electorate change the set of values, are only going to lose more in polls. If the public support goes down, it is not because our values got outdated, it is because our policies are outdated. This is why the key is to have always critical approach, develop better solutions, readapt to the needs of the society and individuals in the 21st century, but never to forget where we are comingfrom.

If you could give Mister Obama one piece of advice, which one would you choose?

Keep dancing! The way in which Obama has motivated a whole new generation of political activists should serve as an inspiration to us all. If he can continue this momentum whilst in office and engage with the electorate at large, he will undoubtedly transform politics – both in the US and internationally.

Jakub Štědroň
Tomáš Petříček

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