Location: Thon Hôtel EU - Rue de la Loi/ Wetstraat 75, 1040 Brussels
Interpretation: English, French, Spanish (only for some of the sessions, for more information click on the Information button next to the session)
A great paradox of our times is that while there is a general consensus that growing inequalities are threatening social, economic and human development, there appears to be little collective reflection on what actions should be taken in order to redress this state of affairs. Inequality is not an accident of history but the product of a series of ideologically embedded, yet ultimately political, choices about the way our economies and societies generate and allocate resources and opportunities.
The 2022 ETUI-ETUC joint conference will seek to trigger such a process of reflection and debate. The discourse surrounding inequality must now move beyond the important task of mapping out, measuring, and ascertaining the many facets and precise nature of this multidimensional and complex problem, and embark onto the more normative quest of imagining and defining a more equal society.
Ultimately, the profound distributional questions that underpin this quest must be subject to public deliberation and democratic decision-making. But to ensure that this process is genuinely participative and transformative, a space needs to be created for the exploration of egalitarian ideas and principles, and of the role of policies and institutions, to assist and bolster the debate.
The case against inequality has already been strongly articulated. Now is the time to explore what real equality should look like.
This conference will take place in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has generated new inequalities while exacerbating pre-existing ones. It has also illustrated that inequalities make societies less resilient in the face of unexpected crises and rapid changes. Furthermore, in our efforts to deal with climate change, which is a crisis demanding swift action, inequalities are unsurprisingly emerging as one of our most exposed Achilles’ heels.
The 2021 issue of the ETUI’s Benchmarking Working Europe report reviewed the many dimensions of the inequality problem in Europe. It argued that inequality is not just incidental to a particular crisis, but a structural problem created by an economic model that, for the past three decades, has progressively redistributed less and less wealth to the bottom percentiles of society while accumulating more and more at the top. Finally, it made the first steps towards identifying a range of policy actions that, with the necessary political will, could help to tackle inequalities.
This conference will seek to further develop this enquiry, by exploring in greater depth both the effects and the root causes of inequality, and by identifying in greater detail the policies and institutions that have the power to render our societies more fair, resilient, sustainable, and equal.
The keynote speaker at this conference, the renowned economist of inequality Thomas Piketty, will take us on a trip through history, demonstrating that human society has in fact been moving fairly consistently toward greater equality (see here his very recent book A Brief History of Equality).
Alternatives Economiques: For 40 years, this independent magazine has been producing economic, social and environmental news. It is the second most read economic monthly in France, with 665,000 readers per issue. Distributed on news-stands and by subscription, its coverage is well-sourced and educational.
Alternativas economicas: Inspired by the French publication Alternatives Economiques, and, like it, is a work cooperative, Alternativas Económicas is a Spanish journalistic project born in 2013. Based in Barcelona, ‘AlterEco’ seeks to explain economic events in an understandable way and has no links with economic and political powers.
euobserver: A non-profit, independent, influential and investigative EU news publication based in Brussels. euobserver will be offering a discount to conference participants, which can be accessed with the code PARTNER50.
Green European Journal: An online and print political ecology magazine dedicated to analysis, debate and new ideas. In times of social and ecological crisis, attacks on democracy, and rapid technological change, the GEJ helps ideas travel across cultural and political borders, building solidarity and understanding.
Social Europe: The mission of Social Europe is to strengthen democracy by finding and discussing solutions to the most pressing political, economic and social issues of our time. The values of freedom, sustainability and equality form the foundation of this online publication’s examination of society’s most pressing challenges.
Voxeurop: An independent media outlet for a European audience, covering cross-border stories and topics from a continental perspective in up to ten languages. Voxeurop is a co-founding member of the European Data Journalism Network and a member of Eurozine.