Academics with a conviction: the importance of an open and accessible debate

Final declaration REAix2019

RENEWING TRUST !

This final statement from Le Cercle des économistes is a call to reason, to greater lucidity and most of all, a call to action in order for us to face the great disruptions of our time, be they democratic, territorial, commercial, geopolitical, social or ecological. A generalized loss of confidence has resulted from this multitude of shocks, and after working on the subject of trust for a long time, we have reached a consensus on the following definition:

Trust is the risk we accept when we rely on someone else, with the aim of establishing a cooperative relationship lasting through time. It is not only the satisfaction of our individual interests, but is also founded on our perception of a common interest. It implies that legitimate authorities provide unbiased and up-to-date information to citizens. Its founding principles are universal, but it takes its full meaning in the specific social and cultural characteristics of each society. Trust is a concept which concerns institutions, nations, Europe and all other forms of community.

We believe that trust cannot be re-established solely through a few isolated and short-term measures, but must also go through the reconstruction of a solid base of shared values. We have identified 8 of these values which appear to us as the most relevant to take on this major challenge: the prioritization of education and training, the adherence to science as a value of truth and progress, and as an engine for the bettering of our living conditions, respect for the diversity of all identities and cultures, solidarity, well-being at work, finding a new balance of liberties and the rebirth of social justice. These values must take form in 5 different fields:

  • Recreating social cohesion and bringing territories back together by fighting against exclusion at all ages of life and against territorial division;

  • Reclaiming our lives by fighting against technological and political dehumanization, as well as the acceleration of time;

  • Creating a project-based Europe in order to go further than the institutional logic of the EU;

  • Rekindling new forms of international cooperation, led by the EU;

  • Ensuring security in tomorrow’s world by taking on the major disruptions the world will face with precision and clarity and by finding the means to implement long-term solutions to problems relating to the environment, immigration, and individual and collective security, including cybersecurity.

Among all the ideas which Le Cercle des économistes has presented in its final statement, we have kept 12 for this abridged version, which we believe to be the key to renewing trust.

1. To recreate social cohesion and bring territories back together

  • We believe that the place given to social partners in recent reforms is largely insufficient, especially in the reform for unemployment insurance and retirement. We ask that the government organize a conference on the subject of employment opportunities on the labor markets of the future, with all social partners and political parties present;

  • Encourage all levels of governance to regularly call on citizen conventions, for which participation should be mandatory and partly determined by a random draw;

  • For the revitalization of all territories, we ask that regions become the architects of major plans for education and training, which they will finance through the transfer of production taxes to their competencies;

2. To reclaim our lives

  • To recover our digital sovereignty at a time when fake news is pervasive, establish, protect and respect independent institutions whose mission is to inform the general public (statistical institutions, risk-evaluation agencies, bodies which evaluate public policy, …) and create a permanent body for fact checking. We also ask that the Banque Publique d’Investissements create a fund dedicated to startups in the field of fact checking;

  • Start a debate in Europe on the refusal of any form of a monopoly in the treatment, stocking and sharing of data, leading to a possible dismantlement of large technology firms; strongly support all european firms which develop technologies and procedures ensuring individuals’ privacy;

3. To create a project-based Europe

  • Modelled on the USA’s DARPA, create a Franco-German agency for cooperation on projects for breakthrough technologies, financed by each country’s energy and defense departments, and open to any country that wishes to join;

  • Modernize european commercial policy by centering it on competitive issues and by working towards a ‘climate club’, which aims to be more ambitious than the Paris Agreement, and which could establish incentivizing taxation measures at its borders. In parallel, ask that the EU/MERCOSUR agreement to be implemented once all national parliaments have ratified the agreement;

4. To rekindle new forms of international cooperation

  • Following Heiko Maas and Jean-Yves Le Drian’s initiative to create an “Alliance for Multilateralism” on the 2nd of April 2019, we ask that the two concerned ministers launch the Geneva Congress, on the subject of new approaches to international cooperation, especially in the fields of commercial exchanges, exchange rates and capital flows;

5. To ensure security in tomorrow’s world

  • Finance the ecological transition either through a great loan financed and guaranteed by the European Union, or by taking advantage of the low and potentially decreasing interest rates on debt to allocate the gains from reimbursement at a lesser cost to the transition;

  • Prioritize the treatment of ocean waste on a global scale by launching an ambitious program called “Save the Ocean” at the upcoming COP25, through which all countries commit to putting in place systems to filter and collect all waste in bodies of water leading to seas and oceans, as well as to investing in innovative technology to clean the oceans;

  • In the interest of an aging Europe and a forward-looking Africa, form a partnership of unprecedented scale between these continents with the objective of increasing access to water and electricity threefold in Africa in the coming 15 years;

  • Establish an international conference on cybersecurity, which clearly defines what can be considered a critical digital infrastructure (for example, voting or payment platforms), which forbids any attack on such infrastructures and which encourages countries to share best practices for digital security.

For more information and videos of the sessions: https://lesrencontreseconomiques.fr/