Returning To Our Roots – For A European Social Democracy Against Inequalities

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Member of the European Parliament Jonás Fernández calls for European social democracy to ‘return to its roots’ in challenging inequality and austerity – and argues that in the age of transnational corporations, this battle must be joined at the EU, not the national, level

“a solid and well-argued invitation to debate fundamental questions for the future of the left. … a compendium of ideas and proclamations for action.” Iratxe García, MEP and President of the S&D Bureau 

Launch event on 26 April 2022.
Launch event on 26 April 2022.
Panellists from left-to-right:
Sergei Stanishev, former Bulgarian Prime Minister, President of the Party of European Socialists and Member of the European Parliament;
Iratxe García Pérez, President of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament;
János Amman, Euractiv journalist, blogger and moderator;
Jonás Fernández, Member of the European Parliament and author of “Returning to our roots”;
Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms.

European social democracy has come to broaden its agenda beyond just bread-and-butter economics issues to embrace a range of social, personal identity and environmental issues that were simply not on the horizon for its 19th century founders. While this has been in many ways a welcome development, the years of austerity since the financial crash of 2008 have shown a diffusion of focus on the core existential challenges facing citizens amid widening inequalities and threats to living standards.

It is now time, says Jonás Fernández, to reclaim the values and concerns which motivated social democracy’s founders and rediscover its redistributive roots. But while the 20th century European welfare model could be created using the vehicle of the liberal democratic state, the essential next steps cannot be made at the level of the nation state. In a globalised world, individual states lack true sovereignty and the means to effectively challenge the vast power of transnational corporations. In the European context, only the European Union has the scale to meet this challenge, but to do so its institutions need to be remodelled, strengthened and given the necessary tools. How this can be done, and the urgency of the task, is the substance of this bold yet pragmatic and realistic call to debate, reflection and action.

Table of Contents

Prologue, by Iratxe García, MEP and President S&D Bureau

  1. Introduction
  2. How we got here
  3. The European Union is the way forward
  4. Politicisation and legitimisation of the European Union
  5. The European Union and the left
  6. Ideas for a European social democratic agenda
  7. Conclusions


Jonás Fernández is a Spanish Member of the European Parliament, and Spokesperson for the Socialists & Democrats Group in the Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Mone­tary Affairs.

Product Details

Publication Date
22 Feb 2022
Page Count
129 x 198mm