Preparatory meeting for the European Coordination 4th, 5th and 6th October in Barcelona
A meeting was held in Brussels on Sunday 8th September to prepare for the coordination meeting on the 4th, 5th and 6th of October. Prior to the meeting, on Saturday 7th, the programme working group met, as defined at Thessalonica.
The following minutes aim to set out the proposals for the 4th, 5th & 6th October co-ordination meeting and to thereby allow the various movements and national coalitions to prepare this meeting which will be the last one before the European Social Forum is held in Florence.
List of participants ;
Presentation of the "programme" workgroup’s activities ;
Discussion on all the activities during and after the Florence ESF ;
Preparation of the Barcelona European co-ordination ;
Organizational problems for the Florence ESF ;
European solidarity fund and aid to delegates from Eastern European countries ;
After the Bangkok meeting the World Social Forum International Council re. relations with political parties.
The struggle for peace, the menace of intervention in Iraq.
List of participants :
Participants from Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Euskal Herria, Portugal, UK, Greece, Austria, Holland, Russia, Hungary, Switzerland
The "programme" group’s activities :
The working group meeting which was held on the 7th looked at two issues, the list of seminars and the names of speakers for the morning conferences and the late afternoon plenary sessions. Since they were unable to finalize the work the "programme" workgroup decided to meet again prior to Barcelona, on September 22nd in Rome. Those invited to this meeting are the 21 members of the working group as defined at the European co-ordination meeting in Thessalonica, plus 1 from each country not already included on that list. A certain number of deadlines were defined (see below) in order for the group to have the means to work effectively during the meeting on the 22nd and to be able, therefore, to make proposals to the European co-ordination in Barcelona. Please note that a meeting between an Italian delegation and the European Trade Union Confederation was held on the morning of the 7th, the Confederation suggests holding two seminars, one on transnational corporations, the other on the right to work and they are proposing seven speakers for the morning conferences and one in the dialogue between movements and unions.
More seminars have been proposed than there are rooms available (50, i.e. 150 sessions over 3 days). 178 proposals have already been received and, taking into account others that are on the way, one can estimate that a total of 250 seminars will be proposed in all. The working group has divided up the seminars amongst its members and will propose that some be fused together. These proposals will be sent out to the organizations that sent in seminar requests and they will be given until September 17th to indicate their agreement or refusal, running the risk in case of refusal of only being offered a workshop in lieu of their proposed seminar. The movements would have the possibility to have spaces to build their coordination at European level.
Concerning the speakers, 180 requests have been received so far and it’s estimated that we will end up with 220 - 250 whereas there are only 18 conferences. The working group announced that the deadline for proposing a speaker was September 15th, the list of proposals being made public on September 19th in order to enable an efficient working session on the 22nd. The national delegations have to respect the criteria’s of gender, the presence of activists, etc.
All the activities during and after the Florence ESF
The Italian proposal is to open the ESF on the evening of Wednesday 6th in a prestigious Florentine square with a theatre performance by young people from all over Europe who will have rehearsed the previous week around the themes of immigration and solidarity. This formula makes it possible to avoid any personalization of the opening ceremony (who speaks, in whose name ...) and would be combined with an initiative (rally) on the theme of immigration.
During the ESF, the proposal would be to allow a great many cultural events to take place in the streets of Florence (street theatre, music etc.). As a matter of urgency we need to marshal the proposals and co-ordinate the contributions from different countries. The contact person for this is Raffaella Bolini, at the Italian secretariat. A big street demonstration will be organized late afternoon on Saturday 9th (5.30 pm) on the tree issues of the ESF, in particular against the war . If this option is confirmed in Barcelona we’ll have to review the programme, not for the seminars (which run from 2 - 5 pm) but for the talking shops, the testimonies and the windows on the world planned for late afternoon. It’s proposed to hold 6 per day during the first 2 days instead of 4 as originally planned, using the 6 conference rooms we have available. This demonstration would be followed by a gigantic general assembly of movements, which would provide an opportunity for (brief) debate on the status of the movement and current struggles and particularly an occasion to present the most significant initiatives and mobilizations due in the coming year, the European summits in Copenhagen and Thessalonica, the Porto Alegre WSF and the demonstration in Davos, the G8 in Evian (France) on the 1st, 2nd & 3rd of June and the WTO General Assembly in September in Cancun (Mexico). In order to prepare for this general assembly and all the activities during and around the ESF a working group will meet on October 4th in Barcelona, in particular with the members of the old working group on "widening the network" which has finished its job.
On the afternoon of Sunday 10th and all day Monday 11th a discussion meeting of the social movements will be held, with the Europeans of course but also with representatives of other continents which will be present in Florence (it will be a modest-sized meeting with 100 - 200 participants). During the two first WSFs in Porto Alegre the social movements put together a declaration staking their position on major events (e.g. 9/11 and the war was the subject in 2002) and fixing the major international rendezvous which the WSF as an open space without decision-making powers could not do. The Brazilian CUT and MST (movement of landless people) who run a small secretariat of social movements have suggested looking after coordination during the continental social fora : Quito in October, Florence in November, Addis Ababa in December and India in January to exchange experiences and prepare for the Porto Alegre 2003 WSF. A short preparatory text for discussions will be sent out by the Brazilians before the end of September.
From the evening of the 11th to the 13th of November the International Council of the WSF will hold its final session prior to Porto Alegre.
Barcelona European Coordination
A collective has been put together in Barcelona to prepare the meeting ; two of its representatives presented their proposals in Brussels.
In order to discuss matters with the Catalan militant networks an introductory meeting will be held on September 17th with a representative of the Italian collective present and, on the evening of the 4th, an initiative (public meeting or joint dinner) will provide an opportunity for deeper exchanges between the Barcelona militants and the European delegations. The Barcelona collective will also discuss the opportunity for organizing a press conference during the European coordination.
In terms of logistics there will be translation into three languages (English, French and Castilian), a list of inexpensive hotels will be published but there should also be possibilities for being housed by militants which will help enable informal exchanges.
On the afternoon of Friday 4th, at 2pm, the coordination will start off by holding 3 working groups : programme, overall activities and organization. On Saturday morning general assembly, in the afternoon 3 commissions and then back to a plenary session on Sunday to finalize decisions.
1-/ Housing, already found :
7-9000 places for sleeping bags (gymnasia etc.),
1000-3000 with local inhabitants or in social centers or municipal facilities,
1000-2000 « inexpensive » hotels (youth hostels etc.),
8000 hotel rooms (priced according to comfort level).
2-/ Budget, based on current information, the Italian collective announced :
400 000 Euros for meeting room rental,
370 000 Euros for translation (equipment and translators for 6 conference rooms)
100 000 E supplies, miscellaneous equipment (media room etc.),
50 000 E printing (posters, programme, etc),
50 000 E cultural events,
50 000 E transport costs and speaker accommodation.
i.e. total : 1 020 000 E
400 000 E subsidy from the Tuscany region (in practice that means all room rental),
300 000 E total enrolment fees,
100 000 E spin-off sales (drinks, merchandise etc.),
70 000 E subsidy from the City of Florence (not guaranteed),
100 000 E subsidy from local and regional Florentine authorities (not guaranteed).
i.e. total : 970 000 E (800 000 E minimum).
A discussion was held on how to balance the budget but also how to increase the number of rooms equipped with translation equipment. As currently presented the budget only allows the 6 large rooms to be equipped but none of the (50) seminar rooms nor, of course, any of the workshops.
An initial measure suggested to solve this was suggested to the European Coordination : cancel the plan to reimburse travel and accommodation for speakers who would be financed by their own organizations or their national delegations. This would economize 50 000 E and balance the budget (without taking into account the increase in the number of rooms equipped for translation) if all the subsidies are received.
As far as the translations are concerned, all participants felt that all the seminar rooms must be equipped, which would cost over 100 000 E. Concerning how to finance this additional cost there were two suggestions : managing to find other sources of finance, which those responsible for the Italian collective will seek to do together with the assistance of anyone else who can help, and using interpreters from the volunteer networks and militants to cover the seminars and conferences. As far as this second proposal is concerned, it seems self evident for the seminars (the budget won’t cover the cost of professional interpreters), it is under discussion for the conferences, everyone agreeing that the quality on interpreting is of paramount importance.
In the lead up to Barcelona all national delegations are being asked to find volunteers (requests have already been sent out via email), and we’ll check the status of this on the 4th, 5th & 6th October.
European Solidarity Fund and Aid for Eastern European Delegates
At the first European coordination meeting in Brussels in Spring 2002 the idea was mooted of setting up a European solidarity fund. However, the national delegations have had a lot of other expenses and priorities and the fund remains almost empty !
That is why we are no working on an alternative idea for covering the expenses of delegations from Eastern Europe and the South. The idea is to sponsor delegations based, as far as possible, on geographical proximity. In practice, countries will help as follows :
Scandinavia : Baltic States
Germany : Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia
Austria & Switzerland : Hungary
Italy : the Balkans
Greece : Turkey & some Balkan delegations
The UK : the Middle East
France : Russia
Belgium & the Netherlands : the (few) sub-Saharan African, Asian and Latin American delegations.
After the Bangkok meeting the World Social Forum International Council re. relations with political parties.
When the international council met in Bangkok they issued a reminder of the Charter of Principles and expressed doubts concerning the possibility of allowing political parties to organize workshops. The Brussels meeting restated its agreement with the Charter and believed that if workshops were organized by political parties (there have been very few such requests) then this would in no way signify that the parties were co-organizers of the ESF and therefore the opinion was that the Charter of Principles would be respected. The debate will continue with the International Council who’ll be in Florence and which who we’ll have to organize the evaluation of this experience to prepare the next events.
The struggle for Peace, the Menaces of intervention in Iraq.
An appeal is being circulated on the forum list, all the organization and individuals who want to sign it have to send their answer to the address you have in the mail.