January 8, 2009 2:00 am

European left’s focus is improving public good

From Martin Schulz MEP.

Sir, Blind faith in the market has led us into the worst crisis since the 1930s. As unregulated market forces unleashed by liberal and conservative governments wipe out the global financial market and drag down the world economy, even rightwing politicians have come to understand that sometimes the market is the problem and politics is the solution.

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IN Letters

In their efforts to address the crisis rightwing governments are now adopting ideas the European left has promoted for years. Today’s Nicolas Sarkozy sounds like Marx in exile. Paradoxically, your editorial “Reinventing the European left” (January 6) draws the conclusion that reinvention of the European left is necessitated by the comedy of mistaken identity performed by the European right wing.

On the contrary, in the midst of an economic recession, rising unemployment, high food and fuel costs, decreasing purchasing power and an increasing risk of poverty, leftwing ideas and values are more up-to-date than ever. What it all comes down to is creating a society that is fair and just. The conservative-liberal majority in Europe has spent too long focusing on deregulation of markets, benefiting the few and not the many, while neglecting the social dimension of Europe. The task for the future is to create an international financial and economic order in which people, not the market, are the focus.

The European left is not a prisoner of the past, as you claim, but a progressive force making people's lives better every day and shaping Europe's future. You ask how governments can better channel the creative dynamism of the market for the public good. One of the answers we have had all along is smart green growth that will create 10m new jobs by 2020, make Europe the world leader in the fight against the biggest threat facing humanity, climate change, and decrease our energy dependence. Finding a balance between protection of the environment and job protection through sustainable economic growth and investing in alternative energy sources is our formula for success.

Voters have a real choice in this year's European elections - between a cheap copy of conservatives parading leftwing ideas as their own, but assuring that things stay as they are; and the original European left that is committed to creating a just society and dealing with the challenges ahead. No one is better equipped for the job than the European left.

Martin Schulz,
Leader, Socialist Group in the European Parliament

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