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25th Feb 2024

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The Covid-19 pandemic took everyone by surprise

  • The Global Progressive Forum is an attempt find better and faster ways to recover and further develop social cohesion - unlike what many conservative circles advocate, the future does not belong to those who shut themselves off (Photo: S&D)
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The Covid-19 outbreak resulted from the way we are treating our environment, and how we are exploiting and interfering in it too much.

The virus does not recognise national borders. It also hit the most vulnerable and increased the existing inequalities in almost all societies.

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  • Andreas Schieder MEP: 'Reality has shown that austerity leads nowhere. Saving money just for the sake of saving money without even a minor chance for growth brings societies to the brink of exhaustion' (Photo: Twitter)

Developing countries have suffered the most all over the world. These are not just places on the world map. These are human destinies - single parent families; children growing up in an educationally disadvantaged environment; low-skilled people; low-income workers and those with precarious jobs; those that have to rely on the informal economy; women; those already exposed to domestic violence; those living with disabilities; refugees and displaced persons.

The health crisis amplifies other social crises.

This is why the world needs a platform where all these social problems can be addressed and solutions can be sought. This is the very reason for the existence of the Global Progressive Forum (GPF).

We need to take steps from the status-quo to a better and fairer society. Decision-makers, thinkers, politicians, journalists and experts with progressive thinking throughout the globe are meeting online from 17 to 19 November.

Their goal - to identify the main challenges to the world and suggest the best solutions taking into account the local particularities.

The word that best describes the political and state of the present is "uncertainty". We can hardly find a place in the world where uncertainty is not in the air - among people, within different layers of society, among decision-makers and representatives of academia.

This uncertainty brings fear, and fear is a very bad advisor.

Tomorrow belongs to people and societies who find better and faster ways to recover and further develop social cohesion. The Global Progressive Forum is one such attempt - unlike what many conservative circles advocate, the future does not belong to those who shut themselves off and try to find solutions to the problems by themselves.

We as progressives believe the key is the exchange of fresh ideas and the adaptation of good practices from one corner of the world to the particularities in another one.

We have to discuss how to eradicate the root source of many evils - poverty. Reality has shown that austerity leads nowhere. Saving money just for the sake of saving money without even a minor chance for growth brings societies to the brink of exhaustion.

On the contrary all important future challenges - climate protection, digitalisation, strong public health care - call for massive and comprehensive investment programmes.

The corona pandemic taught us, that a resilient health sector is essential. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being.

This includes the lifting of patents for Covid-19 vaccines in the form of a temporary TRIPS waiver in the World Trade Organization. Vaccines must be accessible to all. This would aid the worlds' poorest countries, but it is also indispensable to eventually control the disease globally.

A just taxation system is part of the solution we as progressives throughout the world have been fighting for years.

Tax evasion

In this sense, closure of tax loopholes are essential to continue our successful fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance. In the short term, this includes shifting from labour taxes to pollution and environmental taxes.

This is how we will move away from disproportionately taxing the poorest. In the long term, and because of the declining income through environmental taxes following behavioural changes, a sound minimum taxation must be put in place.

Special attention should be paid to the idea for a minimum effective tax rate of at least 15 percent, but potentially also a higher rate, and in addition - a framework to coordinate taxes on wealth and the transfer of wealth.

Recovery includes launching the Unemployment Reinsurance Benefit Scheme, a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy strengthening our social security systems and focusing on the most vulnerable, such as children and single parents, and digital participation.

Social inclusion will be more and more difficult in the near future, unless we close the gap in digital skills between the older and the younger generations, those living in the countryside and those in the cities, and the richer and the less well off.

The aim of the GPF is to contribute to finding the much-needed solutions and thus respond to the uncertainty throughout the world. "If we can dream it, we can do it".

Let's keep our fingers crossed for the success of their our debates as the future of our world is at stake. And this definitely deserves a global progressive effort.

Author bio

Andreas Schieder is an Austrian MEP with the Socialists & Democrats group, aka The Progressives, and co-chair of the Global Progressive Forum from 17 to 19 November.

Disclaimer

This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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