Wealth concentration and increasing poverty: trends, root causes and perspectives

Venue: Hotel Amalia, Leoforos Amalias 10, Syntagma, Athens
Languages: English, German, Greek (with simultaneous interpreting in the plenary sessions), English for working groups
Organisation: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Brussels Office and Athens Office, in Cooperation with the European Attac Network
Contact: Klaus Sühl, Tel. 0032-(0)2738 7660/Ioanna Meitani (Athen)

The number of people affected by poverty in Europe are increasing, as well as private and public debt. At the same time private wealth of a small group of people is increasing as well. Approximately 10% of Europeans own 60 to 70 % of the wealth in Europe. While we know much about poverty, we have little data and information about the consequences and impacts of an increasing unequal distribution of wealth, which is considered one key root of the current crisis.

An increasing number of social movements is starting to discuss this issue and is engaging in campaigns at the national level, demanding higher taxes on wealth. In some countries also wealthy people support such demands – such as in Germany, and also the consultancy firms Boston Consulting Group has made such a proposal in the study „Back to Mesopotamia“, as one way out of the debt crisis.

The objective of the three day seminar are:

• To get an overview of questions of distribution in the different EU countries (Data on poverty, on the distribution of wealth, root causes for the situation etc.);

• To discuss together the impacts of the increasing unequal distribution of wealth on social cohesion, the welfare state and democracy;

• To get an overview of existing national and/or European initiatives and campaigns to address this issue;

• To jointly reflect and develop ideas for strategies and approaches to reduce the unequal redistribution of wealth.
Thursday, 18th of April

Arrival of participants

18:00 – 20.00
Welcome of participants and introduction to the seminar
Klaus Sühl, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Head of Brussels Office
Marica Frangaki, Attac Hellas
Hugo Braun, Attac Germany

Intro – Focus on Greece
Poverty in Greece in times of crisis: trends, challenges, perspectives
Dionysis Balourdos, research director at the National Centre for Social Research
Friday, 19th of April

9.30 – 11.30
Who is rich and who is poor? Getting an overview of the redistribution of wealth in Europe
Trends as regards poverty and the concentration of wealth, and its root causes

• The concentration of wealth in Europe: trends and root causes for this development – Brid Brennan, Transnational Institute
• The impact of increased wealth concentration on people, public services, welfare systems and social cohesion – Michaela Moser, European Anti-Poverty Network

11.30 – 12.00
Coffee Break

12.00 – 14.00
Impacts of increasing inequality on people, social cohesion and democracy – resistances and struggles to change this
• Greece: Katerina Poutou, chairwoman of the Hellenic Anti-Poverty Network
• Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia: Zdravko Saveski
• Portugal: Luis Bernardo

14.00 – 15.30

15.30 – 17.30
Working groups: Increasing wealth concentration and inequality: sharing experiences of resistances and struggles:

Working group I: Poverty (Klaus Sühl)
Dr. Yiorgos Daremas (Greece, Attac Hellas)
Matyas Benyik (Hungary)
Jolanta Bielskiené (Lithuania)
Carlos Cuesta (Spain)
Raoul Didier (Germany)
Klaus Dörre (Germany)
Hans-Jürgen Hinzer (Germany)

Working group II: Resistance (Alexis Passadakis)
Primož Krašovec (Slovenia)
Stefan Krastev (Bulgaria)
Roberto Spini (Italy)
Mania Barsefski (Greece)
Luis Bernardo (Portugal)

Working group III: Wealth and Power (Alexandra Strickner)
Brid Brennan (Netherlands)
Alexander Fischer (Germany)
Maciej Gdula (Poland)
Michaela Moser (Austria)
Benedikte Pryneid Hansen (Norway)
Marie Moran (Ireland)
Roman Denter (Germany)

17.30 – 18.00
Coffee break

18:00 – 19:30
Sharing of results of working group discussions and joint dicussion
Facilitation: Alexandra Strickner

Saturday, 20th of April

09.30 – 11.30
Proposals and approaches to address inquality and to diminish wealth concentration in Europe

• Taxing wealth / one time wealth levy – Roman Denter, Attac Germany
• “Marshall Plan” for Europe - Raoul Didier, DGB
• Democratising Public Budgets - Alexandra Strickner, Attac Austria
• Suggestions for a fair and effective tax system – Aggelos Kouros, Taxation Committee of the Department for Economic Policy of SYRIZA-EKM

11.30 – 12.00
Coffee Break

12.00 – 13.30
Discussion of these proposals in working groups
Reflecting on these proposals and sharing other ideas
What role for civil society, what role for academia, what for politics?

Working group I: Taxing wealth (Alexis Passadakis)
Working group II: “Marshall-Plan” (Klaus Sühl)
Working group III: Democratising Public Budgets (Benedikte Pryneid Hansen)

13.30 – 15.00

15.00 – 16.30
Sharing and discussing the results of the discussions in the workings groups
Facilitation: Alexandra Strickner

16.30 – 17.00
Coffee Break

17.00 – 18.00
Concluding session: Summarizing the main results of our discussion, key ideas to be pursued
Facilitation: Alexandra Strickner
See also:

>> New RLF Office in Greece
>> Seminar on Neofascism in Greece

(Image source: Picasa, Michel Trost)