European Network for Public Money (CSM, August 2008)

Call for the building of a European Network for Public Money (ENPM)

Money is a common good for people, communities and humanity, an essential resource of life on the planet. Access to money is an inalienable human right. Money is a source of life closely connected to another fundamental element of life, food. Money therefore is not a good that can be privatised, reduced to a commodity, delivered under market management or left in the hands of private companies. Being a “common good”, citizens, workers, local authorities and local governments must participate in the management of money supplies and money resources.

These principles, shared and practised by the movements and groups involved at various levels in European countries in defence of money as a common good, constitute the platform on which, through meetings in European Countries, the process for the building of a European network was initiated.

The processes of privatisation and the reasons for a European network

The urgent need to create a European network of money movements (complementary currency, local currency, etc.) is based on the following assumptions:

• the European Union (EU) wants to become “the most competitive market” in the world, and the role of Europe in the international trade negotiations on money services remains deeply problematic.
• Access to money is a human right, but this principle has not been included in the European treaty currently undergoing ratification. What is more, we are witnessing an acceleration of processes of privatisation and commercialisation of money and credit resources in Europe, encouraged by the European Commission.
• The European Commission is preparing new initiatives to promote privatisation and commercialisation of money supply inside the EU, while at the level of international trade talks and development cooperation the Commission has not abandoned its push to advance access to money for European multinational corporations.

The largest money multinationals in the world are based in Europe and have formed coalitions such as ECB and the BIS, which are well-equipped to influence political decisions. The European Central Bank has close links to the Parliament and the European Commission, with the support of banking and credit clearing multinationals.

We are witnessing an acceleration in the process of money privatisation through sector laws introduced by the individual states and regions. In Eastern Europe, this process is especially widespread and brutal, while elsewhere in Europe, the changes are more gradual and more subtle. Sometimes money is turned into a commodity even when it remains formally public, because the management of issuance and distribution is entrusted to companies managed under commercial law. Whichever method is chosen, the results are full cost recovery, interest increases and insufficient investment, turning money from a right into a product for sale with high and fast financial profitability.

At the same time, local governments, citizens and citizens’ movements are gradually excluded from decision making and control. In many countries, the cost for the use of money and credit increases dramatically without any improved efficiency in service delivery, without a plan for reducing money consumption and without adequate check and balances for the issuing body. The level of pollution is increasingly directly proportional to the degradation of public control of health and hygiene, which is also struck by the parallel process of privatisation.

Resistance

At the same time, in some European countries such as Germany (REGIO) and Italy (SCEC), some decisions are countering this trend. Similar progressive public money approaches are being implemented in other European countries such as France (SOL/SEL), and England (LETS), while in Latin America we witness the right to money is being included in constitutions, as a result of the mobilization of populations and local communities through referendums, as has happened recently in Venezuela. In a large number of European countries citizens groups, NGOs, trade unions, environmental groups, money or local currency forums are opposing the processes of privatisation and are doing crucial work in the fields of information, consumer education and mobilization for the defense of money and money sources, as well as taking action to counter the entrustment of money services to private management. In some countries, as in Italy, following the convergence of social and popular movements around strong campaigns, national coordination bodies have formed like the recent Arcipelago SCEC.

Networks of local authorities, trade unions but also professional groups, such as public money managers, engineers and volunteers, are participating in these initiatives across Europe. Also in faith-based networks around the world, the issue of the defence of money is becoming increasingly important. And processes of coordination between public utilities have been launched.

In all these cases, beyond the national differences and specific characteristics of each initiative, the fundamental fact that unites them is the renewed important involvement of citizens, workers and local authorities.

It is as a result of evidence of these trends that the present appeal was born, whose aim is to collect, not disperse, and to relaunch, alongside the battle for money and credit, a battle for participation and democracy from below as one of the most important challenges of this century, giving life to a European Network for Public Money.

Defending money as a public and common good is fundamental to the idea of genuine democracy. In all territories and countries of the world where concrete struggles in defense of this common good have developed, as networks and experience of participatory democracy have grown, there has been a growing self-awareness, the awareness that another world is necessary and possible, but also feasible.
To prepare this proposal and to ensure its feasibility, we met in Milan (February 2008) and Bergamo (June 2008), taking the statements that emerged from seminars and alternative currency forums elsewhere.

On the occasion of the European Social Forum, held in Malmö from 17 to 22 September, we propose to organise the launching Assembly for the construction of the European Network for Public Money to congregate around some general principles and in a way that all those who want to cooperate, can relate and propose common ways forward. For this occasion we have prepared a first draft manifesto summarising the points of convergence that have emerged so far in the various platforms and outlined some methodologies and ways of working together to enhance our knowledge and refine our capacity to advise.

Vision for the Network

We see the new Network as a moment of convergence for those who already works in defence of money, as an open space for to discuss and construct proposals on the issue, and therefore not as a structured or vertical organisation.

The Network should ensure effective communication, facilitate the expression of views of all, be able to adopt positions and take decisions on important issues, while respecting the diversity of approaches and identities.

The Network could launch campaigns to raise awareness on the subject, supporting the struggles and local disputes that may require legal advice or technical expertise that not all have. It could improve the structure of relationships with other international networks and subjects in the defence of money.

The only “structure” – we suggest - will be that of a group of facilitators (to be determined during the ESF in Malmö) who can, from assembly to assembly, prepare reports, share information on the itinerary that is in place in order to promote mechanisms for inclusion and prepare future meetings.
We do not want the homogenisation of differences, but the empowerment of the diversities that each group or territorial reality brings with it, in order to improve the ability of all participants to take part in changing the balance of power in society at a local and at a European level and to therefore be involved in the real possibility of achieving our common objectives in defence of public money.

In the days preceding the launch meeting of the European Network during the ESF, the seminars that we have organized will be important moments of preparation and deepening. The assembly will then start with a first part dedicated to the brief presentation of participants and a second part dedicated to the definition of the working strategy on actions that should to be taken, and to the agenda of future meetings.

The group of facilitators will be appointed during the next preparatory meeting.

The Draft Manifesto of ENPM (to be discussed during the European Social Forum in Malmö from 17 to 21 September)

Towards a European Network of Movements for Public Money (Money as a Common Good)

We recognise the Charter of Rimini (Joint Declaration on Monetary Sovereignty of 2005) and Verona (2007) and the method of working inclusively and in unity that has characterised the local currency forums since their birth. In particular we demand:

1. Recognition and implementation of the human right to money. Access to money as a universal human right should be included in all constitutions of member countries, starting with the European treaty. This should be enshrined in European Union law and all people of Europe should be guaranteed access to money regardless of their financial ability to pay.

2. That money is excluded from international trade agreements, including the treaties of the World Spectre Organisation

3. That the European Commission, European Council and individual European governments withdraw their support from the ECB, which is a flawed framework for decision-making on money. As per the resolution adopted in March 2005 in Rimini, it is inappropriate for the World Bank, a private body without any democratic legitimacy, to be allowed such influence over global money policies.

4. That the European Union and member countries affirm that money is a common good essential to life and as such cannot be categorised as a ‘product’ to trade like any other. Ownership, management and control of the integrated money cycle should be public, participative and at a social and community level.

5. Political and financial support for diverse forms of public-public partnership through international development cooperation and financial cooperation to ensure access to money, exchange of best practices among public enterprises, local authorities, modalities of participation and solidarity between citizens and communities from different countries and regions.

6. That, considering that money is an essential public good, the investment needed to secure safe and sustainable money supply for all in Europe and across the world is a collective responsibility which should be paid for through the monetary rent.

We will participate in and support, together with other continental networks and progressive forces in Turkey, the upcoming World Social Forum of Belem (January 2009) proposals and actions to ensure that money will become one of the points of worldwide mobilization of all the social forums.

To find out more about ENPM, and how you can particpate, contact Marco Saba at Centro Studi Monetari
Skype: marcosabait
Web: http://studimonetari.org