Moving Europe forward

3 Mar 2017

030317_EDThe ETF 2017 Congress is approaching fast and the Secretariat is working hard in cooperation with its Spanish affiliates to make this 5th Ordinary ETF Congress in Barcelona a success.

The transition from the current to the next mandate takes place in turbulent times for Europe and for the international community, characterised by an increasing acceptance of polarising speeches in the public debate, appealing to a sentiment of fear among the population and encouraged by the recent political successes of populistic campaigns. Those still valuing nuance and common ethical principles, as for example the use of evidence-based discourses and treating your opponents with dignity, do no longer receive the respect and approval they deserve. The past year we have learned that what is certain and given today, may no longer be that evident anymore tomorrow.

Not by chance this evolution takes place while we are experiencing a growing awareness that the world finds itself at a turning point, with historically stable and friendly authorities being confronted with a discontent and revolting electorate that feels neglected by the political establishment, with (re-)emerging economic and political powers claiming new grounds, with technological revolutions threatening to wash away from beneath us the earth we have lived on for decades, with the consequences of climate change becoming more and more tangible and irreversible. It is pushing us all towards an unknown terrain and creates a climate of uncertainty, making people vulnerable to over-simplified discourses.

It is tempting to respond to these changes by copying the style of our challengers in an attempt to counterbalance this shift to the far right. But doing so would only further legitimise a disgraceful and destructive attitude, pushing us further in the defence while we would already have lost what defines us, our belief in mankind and its undeniable capacity to move forward by cooperation and in solidarity.

Instead we need the courage to question ourselves and the answers we have offered so far to the needs of the people we represent, to face the mistakes we may have made in the past and possible weaknesses in our functioning. We need to strengthen and reaffirm our core values as trade union movement and optimise our approach in view of the changing realities. The ETF 2017 Congress is the appropriate platform to do so and in preparation of this process the ETF has recently started the exercise of assessing its methodologies by enquiring its affiliates and learning lessons from the feedback we receive from the grassroots’ level.

I remind you again of the slogan we decided to use to strive in the next mandate for a better future for transport workers and the wider society: “Fair Transport for Europe – Social Justice, Solidarity, Unity”. It reflects the path ETF chooses to tackle the challenges ahead, with a positive approach and with confidence in the strength of a solidary and unified workforce. I look forward to your active involvement and constructive contributions at Congress and when implementing the next ETF Work Programme with the shared aim to move Europe forward.

Eduardo Chagas

ETF General Secretary

“Slander is a form of self-denial and a result of inner uncertainty. By reproaching the mistakes of others, one seeks to confirm their absence with oneself.” – Godfried Bomans (1913-1971)