9 May 2014

"Nouvelle Donne" : A new french political force that will be getting my vote

"Nouvelle Donne" - or "New Deal" is a new political party in France that is putting up candidates for the forthcoming European elections - in just over two weeks. It was launched by the economist Pierre Larrouturou on the 28th November 2013.

I personally will be happy to give them my support - and I have signed up as a member some time ago. I went along to a meeting in Toulouse last week and was impressed by the fact that they are clearly offering a real alternative to the traditional parties. But, in particular, they are clearly open to a wide range of innovative policies that could really result in the sort of fundamental changes that are so obviously vital.

 I would recommend that anyone who can read French should have a look at the three original documents.

The first concerns the party's program for the the European Elections.
The second describes 10 key measures for taking the initiative in Europe.
The third describes the party's proposals for France.

For those of you who have a bit of a problem with the "langue de Molière, I am providing a fairly accurate translation of the party's main policies - largely dependent on Google Translate!
Here is a translation of the party's Program for the European Elections in 20 points.


 For 30 years , Europe has been an area of cooperation and social justice, but after the Neoliberal movement in the 80s, Europe has become an area of ​​competition and deregulation. 
Europe today faces 3 major obstacles that weaken its ability to respond

  • insufficient democracy
  • the weight of finance and lobbying
  • the choice of austerity.
But it is essential that Europe moves forward with strength and speed with 2 main objectives :
  • bring the social progress to which everyone is entitled 
  • preserve the planet, which is our common good.
Prosperity in Europe will require concrete improvements in our standard of living, quality of life
and the lifestyle of each of us.
We should never give up the ambition to see our children live better than us.


1) Create an Action Zone incorporating those countries that share  the same objectives 

It has become almost impossible to progress effectively with 28 heterogeneous countries  that differ widely in their  levels of integration and different economic and social objectives.To move faster and get results, it is now vital that we create a group centered on those countries willing to implement solutions that meet citizens' expectations.
It is time for Europe to move on from a logic of competition to a logic of cooperation. Some countries have managed to do this with Airbus: we must now go further on the issues that are essential for our future.

The conditions for access to this restricted group would be :

  • Not to be a tax haven
  • Be a member of the Eurozone
  • Have signed the agreement on implementing an FTT (Financial Transaction Tax)
  • Agree to the  the adoption of a Treaty on Social Convergence
  • Accept that Europe  no longer relies almost exclusively on citizens for financial support
The operation of this Action group :
  • MEPs from the core countries would designate a small group of representatives who would also sit on the Action Zone parliament, based in Strasbourg.
They should be prepared to establish a balance of powerJust as Margaret Thatcher and the Liberals succeeded in 3 years to change the course of Europe with their neo- liberal revolution in the early 80s. It should be possible, in 3 years, to achieve  a counter revolution.

This small group will have 3 years to adopt by referendum a European Social Treaty of Convergence that would include the implementation of a
a broad financial transaction tax and a tax on profits that are  not reinvested, with the threat of refusing to pay their share of the EU budget, and using the policy of the "empty chair" to achieve their aims.

2) The immediate cessation of ongoing negotiations on the transatlantic partnership (TTIP/TAFTA)
  • This treaty would give immense power to transnational corporations and put an end to the power of regulation of a State like France in key areas (Shale gas, Genetically Modified Organinisms, Employment...)
3) Regulate global trade by requiring compliance with social rules and under the threat of imposing environmental taxation onimported products. This would require the introduction of a tax on the EU's borders on imported products that fail to respect social and environmental standards, starting with those already issued by the WTO.

 4) Use the opportunity given by the ECB to refinance the "old sovereign debt". To save the banks, the European Central Bank (ECB ) generated 1 trillion euros of new money. And in the United States, the Federal Reserve has lent ailing banks a total of $1200 billion at the incredible rate of  0.01%! While the ECB is not allowed to lend directly to member states, it can lend to "publicly owened credit instiutiions" (Article 21.3 of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks ) andinternational organizations (Article 23 of the Statute). It can therefore lend directly to the
European Investment Bank (EIB) or the Caisse des Dépôts, which in turn could lend at 1.1% to governments to refinance their existing debt. Several tens of billions of euros would be saved each year, reducing substantially the effort required by citizens, and freeing resources for public and social services.

5) Provide the European Union with its own resources
. Financing the EU budget from its own resourcs would give each European country some room for maneuver. For example, every year France "gives" 21 billion euros to the EU budget. This is all money that could be "delivered" to the French public. The budget of the European Union shall be provided with two new own resources :

  • A European tax on corporate profits. In Europe  the average rate of corporation tax decreased from 37 to 25 % over 15 years, compared with 40% In the United States. Nouvelle Donne would create a tax on profits that are not reinvested, and this would be an important first step towards tax harmonization.
  • A real stock exchange tax (tax on financial transactions ) - with a broader base and a higher rate than the current project .
6) Recover money from fraud and tax evasion. The European Parliament has said that a trillion euros are lost each year in fraud and tax evasion.

  • Deny access to public contracts to companies using tax havens.  The procurement code should be changed so that  no bank, business, industry or service could  obtain public contracts if they use tax havens to evade tax.
  • Remove Banking secrecy by adding a FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Extra- European Act) that would apply to foreign accounts. It would, using the model of U.S. legislation, oblige banks to transmit the relevant information, under penalty of prohibition of activity on European territory.
  • Strictly regulate transfer pricing. These are the prices of goods and services between companies of the same group located in different countries. The OECD estimates that these intra-group transactions represent more than 60% of world trade. However, companies are tempted to take advantage of disparities between diffferent national tax laws, making existing penalities ineffective. The new proposals would impose strict regulations with criminal penalties in the event of  cheating .

 7) A Treatise of Social Europe. The Maastricht Treaty requires five convergence criteria in financial matters (including keeping the deficit below 3% etc...). It is time to rebalance the European construction by negotiating a treaty that imposes 5 social convergence criteria

  • An unemployment rate below 5%
  • A Poverty rate of less than 5%
  • A rate for poorly housed below 3%
  • An illiteracy rate at the age of 10 years of less than 3%
  • Public aid for development equal to at least 1% Of GDP
8) Create a social anti-dumping salary. In contrast to logic of farming out workers, low wages must be curbed. A company that relocates to an EU country where the minimum wage is less than that of their country of origin will be required to apply a minimum wage at least equal to the average in both countries.

9) Create a European apprenticeship. All young people should be able to do an apprenticeship anywhere within the Union on the basis of a single contract, that would be valid in all European countries.

10) Give the ECB the goal of full employment in addition to the objective of fighting inflation. This can be done on the model of the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Central Bank .


 11) Encourage investment and penalize speculation

  • Prohibit banks from speculating with our money. Impose a strict separation different banking activities.  To limit the consequences of a financial tsunami on the real economy,  there needs to be a real separation bteween deposit banks and investment banks, thus supporting and strengthening the existing European legislation. The law passed in 2013 in France is almost completely ineffective. In the case of a bank failure, the banks should turn to their shareholders, not to the state. The money belonging to citizens must be protected in the event of a new crisis.
  • Ban toxic financial products. Create an authorization process for the marketing of new financial products, like the one used for drugs. It should not be possible to launch financial products that endanger household savings or public finances.
  • Ban high-frequency trading (i.e. using machines to place orders every few microseconds). It should not be possible to speculate using financial robots.
  • Establish a bonus/malus scheme that encourages long-term investments and deters very short term strategies. The aim should be to encourage the use of savings for productive investment, which can create real employment.


12) Create an additional currency to the euro to avoid deflation : the euro-franc. With a single currency and an independent central bank, the democratic institutions in Europe no longer have any power over the currency. But France, like most of Europe, is close to deflation, creating a formidable combination of low prices, revenues and profits, increasing unemployment, an increase in extreme poverty and triggering large-scale bankruptcy. The purchasing power of the French is blocked by stagnant wages and tax increases needed to finance austerity. Such policies empty the order books of companies. In parallel, the real economy lacks money, just as the body is deprived of oxygen. At present, money creation is in the hands of the commercial banks, who use it to finance speculation. In this context, it is necessary, while keeping the euro, to issue currency at the national level.  Thus, a "Euro-Franc" should be  be created by the Banque de France, something that is quite legal. It would be pegged to the Euro, with 1 Euro-Franc = 1 euro. It will be unconvertible, and could not be used for the purchase of financial assets and property. Every resident citizen over the age of 18, will receive
150 Euro-Franc every month on an account that is specifically opened for this purpose.
Functioning as a reverse tax, will be directly provide surplus purchasing power for more equality and economic security. Thousands of businesses and citizens are already using successful complementary currencies locally. The Euro-Franc would be a sort of "national" local currency local that, while not affecting our partners, would directly help the French, with a real potential for recovery in the real economy.
This initiative in controlle money creation could push other European countries to do the same. But once the European monetary situation has stabilized, the various additional currencies could be progressively replaced  by the Euro.


 13) 1 trillion euros to save the climate. Negotiate a European Pact on Energy - Climate - Purchasing Power. It will allow each state to borrow each year the equivalent of 1% of GDP at zero percent interest from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to finance energy-saving  projects. While European States do not have the right to create money, over a ten year period  2,528 billion euros have been created by and for commercial banks! This is totally outrageous. For centuries, Nations were the only ones allowed to create new money. While they might share this power with commercial banks, it does not seem right that Nations have been totally deprived of this fundamental right. It is urgent to regain control of the currency. It is time to control the power of creation money by commercial banks to avoid the emergence of new speculattive bubbles. Reclaiming the right to create money would also make it possible to create money to finance major projects such as the fight against climate change. Each year, France could thus borrow 20 billion euros at 0% interest to  finance projects that include insulating homes homes, factories and offices. A report by the European Commission shows that households can expect savings up to 1000 € per year. Moreover, a CNRS study shows that such a policy could create 200,000 jobs in our country. The pact could also fund a European research program on cleaner transport systems, an environment and an energy industry that are less wasteful and the development of recycling in the  economy. Airbus and Ariane have been two great success stories for European industry. It is high time that we invested with the same ambition in environmental excellence.

14) Make it compulsory to display the origin and composition of all products

15) Extend the duration of the legal guarantee of household goods, the availability of spare parts and the possibility of local repair (fight against planned obsolescence)

16) An agricultural policy that serves the people. Liberalization of world agricultural trade is causing major imbalances in the world that include blocking the development of  food production in the poorest countries; speculation in agricultural and food commodities; health problems due to frenzied attempts to reduce production costs. Nouvelle Donne proposes :

  • to denounce the Marrakech Accords that have removed all protection measures and support of agricultural markets
  • to restore protectionism for agricultural production in the poorest countries, who are entitled to their own food sovereignty (since this is the type of policy that Europe and Japan have used to protect and developed their own agriculture)
  • to encourage farm diversification and support techniques that respect the environment, animal welfare, traceability and food safety, in Europe and in all countries with which it trade.
17) No new European Treaty without a referendum.
Building Europe behind the back of its citizens  should not be possible. Nouvelle Donne proposes that any new treaties should be adopted by a pan-European referendum held at the same time in all European countries.

18 ) The power of the European Parliament. Currently, all major decisions are made in the European Council by a unanimous decision of Heads of State and Government. This rule undermines democracy and leaves ample room for technocrats and lobbyists. Our  solution would be to prune back the area of competence - Europe should not be legislating on the size of zucchinis or Cheeses - and we need to establish a parliamentary system. The locus of power is Parliament, where the citizens who vote once every 5 years must say what team has the majority and which policies should be implemented.
Moreover, the weight given to projects initiated by  citizens should be increased. Proposals that can collect one million signatures should be turned into legislation and submitted within six months to the European Parliament and the Council.

19) An increased presence and role of women in the European institutions. There should be Parity within the College of Commissioners with a specific commisioner responsible for Women's rights, a specification of the parity rules used for appointments to key positions, and strengthening of gender equality in the EU action plan across member states. 

20) Protect citizens from risks and and defend fundamental freedoms on the Internet. The digital revolution provides citizens with new opportunities but also  new risks. We must protect privacy from personal data monitoring and abusive commercial exploitation. This includes the right to anonymity and encryption, the promotion of free software, and the defense of neutral and open access networks. We will oppose mass surveillance, and the commercialisation of global surveillance technologies. We will strengthen the rights of citizens, and we oppose any administrative or private sanctions without review by a judge .

That's a pretty impressive list. And I'm particulary happy to see that they have included a number of the ideas that I have developed myself over the last few years on my blog. 

For example, their proposal of introducing a Euro-Franc is remarkably close to my suggestion of the N-Euro. 

And their proposal to introduce a 150 Euro-Franc basic citizen's income is also something that I have been pushing myself. 

And, of course, introducing a Financial Transaction Tax has always been one of my favorite ideas.

So, I would encourage any French readers of my blog to seriously consider a vote for Nouvelle Donne. And if you are living elsewhere, maybe you need an equivalent proposition where you live too?

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