GUE/NGL, the second smallest party in the European Parliament, uses confederalism as the basic principle for its functioning. By Veronika Czina
GUE/NGL is the abbreviation for ‘Confederal Group of the European United Left / Nordic Green Left.’ The name of the political group already suggests that it consists of several different parties which fight for the representation of comprehensive leftist values in the European Union. The party group was established in its current form in 1995, but its origins stretch back to 1989, when four leftist parties created the GUE group, the predecessor of today’s GUE/NGL. Throughout its 25 year history, the group has always consisted of parties of mostly socialist and communist orientation. Currently the group has 35 MEPs from 15 Member States and 18 political parties who believe that ‘Another Europe is possible’. Their main principle of functioning is confederalism, which for them means respecting the diversity of the members’ opinions.
When it comes to GUE/NGL and their views on specific policy areas we should begin with social policy. The party group’s main beliefs and goals are connected to solidarity, equality and social stability. In their program they put a huge emphasis on workers’ rights and they fight for achieving minimum income schemes across Europe which would be based on at least 60% of the median income in each country. Their principles include reducing poverty, saving the homeless and providing equal rights for minorities. They would like to pay special attention to the most disadvantaged layers of society, such as the young people, and marginalized people, like asylum seekers.
They see the EU as the motor of the current global economic, financial and environmental crises, therefore they denounce the market-oriented logic of competition both within the Union and in relation to other countries. This is why it comes as no surprise that the group is fully against creating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the USA, against which its MEPs protested in the European Parliament. Moreover, the group backed the creation of a study which aims at shattering the myths around the TTIP and tries to reveal its disadvantages. The group also opposes the privatisation of the commons, and they denounce the austerity regime which they claim proves that the prevailing neoliberal economic architecture failed. A tax on financial transactions and capital would be possible ways out of the crisis. They also support the establishment of a strict democratic control over the European Central Bank because they want an ECB ‘which benefits the economy and society, not financial speculation.’
They see the EU2020 Strategy as inefficient and a means of leading to more concentration of wealth. They would rather see the achievement of a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth through concentrating more money on environmental causes. The group was dissatisfied with the reduction of the money allocated to the Common Agricultural Policy in the budget, because they urge for a green CAP reform; agriculture should be a sustainable sector, where the needs of small and medium farmers are satisfied. GUE/NGL says no to GMOs and cloning and they urge labelling all the animals fed with GMOs.
The party dreams of a more human, more transparent and tangible Europe which is based on democracy and the active participation of its citizens. Instead of being the project of the elites, they want to bring the EU closer to the people. They also fight for human rights, denouncing fascism and racism. As a small and radical left-wing party, GUE/NGL is not majorly influential in the EU, but they try to make their voices heard when it comes to issues which are crucial to them (e.g. TTIP). The group does not have a candidate for the post of European Commission President.
Image: ‘Logo_gue-ngl’ via Wikimedia Commons, released under Creative Commons.