Berlin/Brussels 24 May, 2017. Commons Network releases its new policy paper for Europe today. It is an urgent plea to Europe and a call to arms for all activists and Europeans.
‘Supporting the Commons: Opportunities in the EU Policy Landscape’ is an appeal to the European Union to truly become an ally to commoners and commons-thinkers. With this paper, Commons Network lays out a clear unifying political vision for the future of Europe, a way for the EU to renew itself as a democratic and constructive force.
Commons Network co-director Sophie Bloemen: ‘A Europe by and for the people will have to be a Europe that protects and supports the commons. We hope this publication will help make European leaders aware of the urgency of this unmistakable fact, while also giving some pointers on how to go about it.’
The current crisis facing the European Union demands new, unifying and constructive narratives. The commons as way of thinking encapsulates these narratives in one fresh political framework. The ‘commons’ is an emerging paradigm in Europe-one that embraces reciprocity, stewardship, social and ecological sustainability. It is also a movement- one that can reinvigorate progressive politics and contribute to a more socially and ecologically sustainable Europe.
The commons perspective stands in stark contrast to the policy priorities that currently dominate in Europe. The European political scene is built around individualism, private ownership and zealous free market-thinking. Right now, major fault lines are starting to appear in that dominant worldview. Commons often emerge from the bottom up; they are dependent on community processes, and their logic is mostly at odds with the EU’s institutional logic.
‘We believe, however, that there is an important role for EU politics and policy to create the right incentives, to remove hurdles and to bring support to this re-emerging sector’, says David Hammerstein, Commons Network co-director.
So how do we as Europeans move forward? This policy paper reflects some of the EU policy barriers and opportunities in the areas of participatory democracy, the urban environment and knowledge in the digital environment.
Accompanying this paper, Commons Network will soon publish a strategy document & tool that will give an overview of the various policy processes’ timelines, key actors, and entry points.
What’s next for the commons movement? Commons Network is one of many organisations collaborating in the European Commons Assembly, which will reconvene in Madrid in October. Partnering with the Transeuropa Festival, commoners, activists, thinkers and politicians from all over Europe will gather in Madrid to continue building this movement. You are cordially invited to join us.
Berlin, May 21 2017. European Alternatives, the civil society network that works tirelessly to build new narratives for the Europe of the future, just released its new book: Shifting Baselines of Europe, New Perspectives beyond Neoliberalism and Nationalism. Commons Network co-director Sophie Bloemen contributed to this release with an essay on the commons as a new paradigm for a different, better Europe.
The books is available here, also as a free download. The essay by Sophie Bloemen is titled The Commons As Unifying Political Vision, and you can find it on page 167. From the essay:
“The crisis of the European Union begs for new, unifying and constructive narratives – alternatives to the right-wing populist and nationalist wave that is getting fiercer every day. A ‘commons’ approach holds the potential for a unified vision towards an alternative economy, a Europe from the bottom-up, and an ecological economy and way of life. The idea of jointly stewarding shared resources, community, and a generative economy can find resonance with a diverse range of citizens.”
12 March 2017. Commons Network responded to the European Commission Public stakeholder consultation on the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 as well as to the public stakeholder consultation on the Innovative Medicines Initiative.
In both cases we focus on the need for clear public return on public investment, and the production of public knowledge goods. Currently most knowledge developed with the support of these EU initiatives is privatised. Instead when funding R&D into medical technologies, Horizon 2020 and IMI should explore new models of innovation, based on the de-linkage of the incentive to innovate from the price of the resulting medical technology.
Marketing and promotion of pharmaceutical products
Professional training and education
Knowledge of therapeutic value of medicines provided to professionals
High cost of medicines and health-care
Regulatory issues (adaptive pathways, EMA, clinical trials transparency)
Value & outcomes debate and the links with Health Technology Assessment
Alternative models of R and D, new models of biomedical innovation and incentives for public- health driven and affordable pharmaceutical development.
This meeting has four objectives:
Raise awareness on ongoing policy debates & latest political developments in the access to medicines debate in Europe
Identify threats and opportunities for advocacy, coordinated action & messaging
Establish a flexible European network of doctors which prioritises the professionalism, the political efficacy and the ethical coherence of health-care professionals in the EU in favor of policies driven by public health needs and independent of conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical industry
Strengthen the voice and visibility of doctors and guarantee their views are taken on board in the ongoing policy discussions
Monday, 27 March 2017 – Closed strategy & brainstorming meeting
European Parliament, room A5E-1, 14:00-18:00
Tuesday, 28 March 2017 – Public event
European Parliament, room A5E-1, 12:00-14:00
Brussels—European public health advocates have called upon the European Commission to make substantial changes to how it funds research and development (R&D) projects for new medicines, to allow for greater public access to the innovations that it helps to fund.
‘’Horizon 2020 continues to allow the privatization of knowledge generated with public funds. To prevent this give away of our knowledge commons the intellectual property rights that are created from these scientific results should be available for sharing and usage under the governance of the European Commission. European citizens should not pay twice for products paid for with European funds. Public incentives for innovation must result in creating public knowledge goods.’’ David Hammerstein, Commons Network.
“Europeans have a right to question why they are funding R&D projects without the European Commission taking simple steps to guarantee that citizens can benefit from discoveries that they helped to fund,” said Tessel Mellema from Health Action International, speaking on behalf of the eight civil society organisations who drafted a joint submission to the Commission.
The call comes following the Commission’s public consultation for the mid-term review of the European Union’s (EU) Research and Innovation programme, Horizon 2020 (H2020), which administers a funding pool of nearly €80 billion.
“At a time when there is real concern within Member States over astronomical prices for new drugs treating cancer and hepatitis C, the European Commission has the opportunity to take real and practical steps to make new biomedical discoveries affordable and accessible across the European Union,” said Aliénor Devalière, one of the report’s authors from Médecins Sans Frontières – Access Campaign.
The joint submission to the Horizon 2020 consultation established six key recommendations that the European Commission should consider during their review process:
Invest more public funding in biomedical R&D
Improve public health needs-driven priority setting for biomedical R&D
Improve and mandate open access publishing and open data
Ensure public return on public investment and safeguard equitable access to publicly funded health technologies
Explore alternative incentive mechanisms for more efficient, high-quality R&D
Increase transparency of research consortium agreements
The submission authors also highlight that the EU has an obligation to ensure a high standard of human health protection across the Union, however major inequalities still exist in the quality of healthcare available in EU Member States.
The full submission to the European Commission consultation can be viewed here online.
The submission to the mid-term review of Horizon 2020 was co-authored by the following organisations:
Many people are engaged in commons-based alternative practices as part of the struggle for ecological, social and cultural transition within their communities. In these fields, the commons approach offers a new vocabulary for collective action and social justice. It opens up ways of reshaping processes for governance of resources by communities themselves. Commons-based practices respect values of sharing and cooperation, equity and diversity, transparency and sustainability.
In November 2016, a group of 150 commoners from all over Europe gathered in Brussels to lay the foundations fora united and strong European commons movement. The European Commons Assembly was born.
These videos give a peek into the Assembly and its members, who explore how to bring the advent of creative institutions and political alternatives from the local to the European level and articulate joint demands for urgent issues, including food, energy and the city.
The idea of commons is growing in our collective imaginary, but remains underrepresented in concrete terms. It is time to jointly act to reinvigorate local, national, and European politics on the basis of these values!
The commons is an emerging paradigm in Europe embracing co-creation, stewardship, and social and ecological sustainability. Commons perspectives could help to reinvigorate Europe with constructive and concrete policy implications on many terrains. However, much of the current dominant narrative of the EU, focusing on growth, competition, and international trade is in strong contrast with the worldview of the commons. So where does EU policy stand today with regards to the commons?
Our Energy fellow Cecile Blanchet participated on Saturday 7 January to “a future without the NAM“in the Netherlands. The focus was on the potential remunicipalization of the gas utility (the NAM), which is exploiting the huge gas field under the province of Groningen and presently belongs to Shell and Exxon. The goal of remunicipalizing it would be to stop the gas extraction, which provokes a collapse of the ground and severe damages for houses and infrastructure. Cecile intervened in the session on international alternatives and presented the framework of energy as a commons and two examples of remunicipalization processes in Hamburg and Berlin. The session was streamed on the Facebook page of the Transnational Institute.