WDM activists learn from European struggles

Attac Germany's banner against TTIP at the European Summer University in Paris

We’re now in the third full day of the European Summer University for Social Movements organised by the European Attac network. WDM activists have been learning about struggles across Europe against austerity, climate change and corporate power, and getting involved in planning co-ordinated European campaigning too.

In Europe as in the UK, the last five years since the financial crisis has been a story of public spending cuts and privatisation. And though there have been many struggles and mobilisations, the victories of social movements have been too few. So it was particularly good to hear from activist Maria Kanellopoulou of the Save Greek Water campaign. Greece has been crippled by the conditions of the IMF/EU bailout packages, with every conceivable public asset to be sold off. The complete privatisation of the Athens and Thessaloniki water systems was planned, but a concerted and innovative campaign over two years mobilised public opinion to such an extent that the courts felt compelled to rule it out.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has also been a big agenda item here, with a series of sessions aiming to plan the European campaign. A pan-European day of action is slated for 11 October and the movement is making use of a kind of official EU petition called a European Citizens Initiative. We’ll need to get a million signatures across Europe, but if we do, the European parliament will have to discuss the issue. It’s one of a number of tools to make it increasingly difficult for the European Commission to ignore the rising public opposition to TTIP across the continent.

The event has also been a great opportunity to meet people informally, including WDM group members who’ve been sharing experiences of campaigning and planning what we’re going to do when we leave the cheese and wine behind and get back to the UK!

Participants in a plenary session at the European Summer University in Paris

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