Re - writing the rules (EU)

In 2012, the Nobel Price Laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz published a groundbreaking book “The Price of Inequality: How today’s divided society endangers our future”. On its pages he put forward an argument that the growing disparities in living standards within the population are not only harmful for the contemporaries, but will prove most unsustainable blocking any chance for restoring growth and prosperity for the generations to come. His thesis has resonated broadly. While fight against inequalities have become a preoccupation of all the debates across the political spectrum, the question has remained: but what to do then?

Partially responding to it, and partially willing to ensure that the debate remains the political domain of the progressives, professor Stiglitz completed a new volume entitled “Re-writing the rules of the American Economy. An agenda for growth and shared prosperity”, which was published in fall 2015. On its pages the author reiterates that existing inequalities are in fact a result of a political voice made in the 1970s, when policies shifted to follow a harsh neoliberal agenda. In that sense he please to rethink the existing institutional structure and seek a change, which would stop the trend - following which and regardless of the recent crash of 2008 - the richer become richer, while the group of the poorer grows and they become even more impoverished. 

The book has resonated been an inspiration for the candidates running for the presidential nomination within the Democratic Party and as such, became a “must-read” for 2015/2016. In the midst of its launch, Professor Stiglitz and Dr Ernst Stetter, FEPS Secretary General met at the Columbia University in New York within the framework of the year-long cooperation between FEPS and IPD (Initiative for Policy Dialogue) - and FEPS has been asked and entrusted with a mission of putting together a twin publication, which would ask the same question as the above mentioned American one, but would seek a European-specific answer. 

Following that  FEPS together with its partners in the “Next Social Europe” research programme conveyed a meeting of a new “High Level Advisory Group (HLAG)”, which met in Vienna on 1st and 2n March 2016 - benefitting from the generous hospitality of the Renner Institut and its Chair, Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer - former Chancellor of Austria and Chair of the FEPS Next Left Research Programme. Within the two days of intensive, inspiring and instructive debates a number of ideas have been coined - which will constitute then the fundaments of the new reader that FEPS together with Policy Network, CEVEA, Wiardi Beckman Stichting and Renner Institut hopes to put forward at the end of this year.

The HLAG on the Next Social Europe is expected to meet again twice this year to discuss the first draft and to finalise the publication. The initial results of the first Vienna round will soon be available as a background note, whilst the first outcomes and the follow-up planning have already met with the approval of Professor Stiglitz. The next steps are further to be explored, whilst the April conference of FEPS and IPD will be the excellent opportunity for Professor Stiglitz and Dr Stetter to elaborate on the details as well.

To that end, although HLAG meetings are closed and participation is upon invitations only, still the event in Vienna, as also the activities planned always feature a debate open to the public. Through that FEPS hopes to engage with different politicians, experts and activists - ensuring also that diverse views are heard before the task of forging an agenda to fight against inequalities is successfully completed.