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IV World Social Forum, Mumbai, 16 -21 January 2004

Project: Ibase
Partners: ActionAid Brasil, Attac Brasil e Rosa Luxemburgo Foundation

Participatory Democracy and Participatory or Citizen Budget in Germany

Andreas Trunschke

The famous French statesman and cardinal Armand-Jean du Plessis Herzog von
Richelieu (1585-1642) once said: “The budget is a states nerve. Hence, it has to be
taken away from the profane eyes of the subjects.”

This statement seems to be true even today. Of course, skilfully the budget is taken
away the views of the citizens in these modern democracies. It is presented in such a
complicated way that it takes the expert knowledge of the politicians and bureaucrats in
order to read and understand it. Hence, the citizen does not really feel the desire to
deal with it. If he, however, does make the effort to read and understand, than there are
laws, which secure that he has no influence on the formation of the budget.

This traditional politics understanding has been opposed first by the southern Brazilian
city Porto Alegre with its “Orçamento Participativo”, the participatory budget order or
citizen budget. The citizen himself does give the priorities for the budget, he himself
controls that the budget follows these priorities and the administration has to give him
the evidence over how the budget has been used and what has been done. Now, one
can see variations of this new politics understanding in many places of the world.

Slowly this new idea even reaches Germany. Slowly, maybe because traditionally it is
very hard for the Germans to learn from others, especially from a country of the third

In the following, I will show where in Germany one can see already hints for
establishing a stronger citizen participation, which obstacles exist, which experiments
are being done in present and how they differ from the participatory budget in Porto
Alegre. At the end I will give a small view onto possible further developments.

First we will have a look at the hints of establishment. A first one we can find in the
small perished state, the GDR. In the former state-socialistic GDR parliamentary
democracy, as is well known, was not very popular, however there where starting points
for a participatory democracy. In every city residential areas housing between 2.000 to
2.500 inhabitants had living area committees from the National Front , which were
consulted regarding important questions for the development of the district. For
instance, they could be involved with matters, such as if and where playgrounds,
shopping facilities or streets were built. Of course this was an ordered participation, but
therefore it covered almost all areas. Of course those living area committees also acted
as a instrument showing of power by the rulers, but at the same time it represented a
democratic element, that in every way could have developed a certain independence.
On the one hand, they should communicate to the ground as unchangeable decisions,
on the other hand, however, they also allowed – within certain limits – the involvement
of the people. This basic idea, citizen participation in the creation of made decisions,
we will meet again later on.

Which elements reaching further than the parliamentary or representative democracy,

exist in today’s, united Germany that could be used as starting points for a stronger
participation of the citizens in political decisions? Firstly, one has to name the public
legislation. Since Germany is a federal state we have got the possibility that the people
can give up their opinion to certain questions. People can start the so-called public
initiatives by going onto the streets to collect signatures for a certain matter. If enough
signatures have been gathered together, the parliament has to deal with the
appropriate problem. If it rejects the initiative, signatures can be collected again. This
time, however, more signatures are needed and not from the streets but from the

authorities. Are there enough signatures, the parliament has to deal with the problem
again. If it rejects it again, however, the people are being asked. It comes to a
plebiscite. Similar procedures exist in most other countries for villages and towns as
well. It is, however, always about single problems, which, according to the initiators,
have been either not at all or wrongly decided by the parliament. Although from the
start, it is not about citizens participating in political decisions, but at least this way the
people got the possibility correcting political decisions. Within limits however. Excluded
are, for instance, decisions to financial questions or with financial consequences. But
which decision would not have to do with money? And a legislative for all of Germany
would not be possible at all, compared to many other European states. That is why we
are one of the few countries, whose constitution has been accepted not by the people
but only by the parliament. In Germany there was no vote neither for the introduction of
the Euro nor the expansion of the European Union towards eastern European

Now we will have a look at the participatory democracy in Germany. There is an area,
in which for long we in Germany have got considerable opportunities and positive
experiences. I am talking about the building planning. The statute book for the building
society says clearly: “As soon as possible, the citizens need to be told about the
general aims and purposes of the planning, possible differing solutions, which can be
considered regarding the reorganisation or development of an area, as well as the
possible consequences of the planning; they need to be given full opportunity for
expressing and discussing their view… Points can be expressed within a certain period
of time and have to be checked trough; and the result has to be reported.” (statute book
for the building society) Hence, this is a forcing rule. Everybody has got the chance
saying their opinion and the administration has to look through these opinions, prove
and test them against other different opinions and interests and explain their decision in
a written way. Thus, the citizen can participate and influence an important part of life. In
the correct way, however, there are sometimes seen problems. For example, it is not
arranged how those plans are laid out, how easy it is to reach them, where they are laid
out. It can happen of course that the interested citizen sits in front of meter-long piled-
up files without a chance gasping the main importance and the problems of the content.
That is why citizens are often very frustrated, because in comparison the opinion of a
big investor or the administration counts much more than their objection. Hence, here
much improvement is still needed.

A further point of establishment for the participation of the citizens on budget-related
questions exists in the so-called social reports. In all areas we find the different reports,
children-and youth reports, health reports, poverty reports, sometimes wealth reports.
Most often it is about big data grave yards, which are being used by the politicians
according to their various arguments. The social reports offer a big advantage. They
deliver important information over the social situation. Only these allow statements if
certain budget means are appropriate or not. With the help of the so-called budget
analysis the consequences of certain budget decisions onto certain living situations
could be documented, for instance for children, for the equality of the sexes or for the
nature. This allowed a better understanding of the budget instead of just a simple
representation of figures for receiving and spending. With this better understanding, the
citizen got more chances getting involved. Unfortunately, as far as I know, the existing
political instrument for the social reports in Germany is until now not being used for the
representation of the budgets.

With this I reached the main point of my report, the participatory or citizen budget in
Germany. As already mentioned, everybody can look into the budget in public. Also, via
the parliamentary parties he can try to take influence into the decisions of the
parliament. Often the parliaments themselves offer discussions to certain parts of the
budget. However, all this is not valid for the participatory or citizen budget. The question
is, how far can the citizen take influence into the creation and arrangement of the

The furthest development can be seen in the federal state Nordrhein-Westfalen. There,
at the end of the year 2000 the interior ministry in cooperation with the Bertelsmann
Foundation initiated the model event “Communal citizen budget” in which six
communities take part on. “The aim of the project is to inform every citizen better about
the budget of their community and to promote a stronger citizen participation on the
developments and happenings of the budget.” ( The project
is composed of three parts. The first part deals with the information over the budget. “In
this step the towns inform their inhabitants over their budget, but in a form that is
understandable not only for the expert but for everybody. Where does their money
come from? What is it spend on? How is the financial situation like? Which
opportunities for negotiating exist?” (dito). The second part is concerned with the citizen

participation on the budget. “The citizen participation is the ‘heart’ of the project. The
cities will offer their inhabitants the opportunity to express their opinion to all their
questions about the budget and to make suggestions and proposals…The decision
over the suggestions and the budget remain with the council” (dito). The third part is
concerned with the proving of what has been done. “After the budget has been agreed,
the towns have to explain to their inhabitants what had happened with their
suggestions, how the council had decided and why it had made this decision” (dito). As
an aim of this model it is given: “Our aim is, to improve the understanding as well as the
engagement of the citizens in order to prepare the foundation for one of the most
important directional changes of their towns” (dito).

Let us have a closer look at the single models in some of the participating communes.
The most interesting procedure is maybe the one in the city of Emsdetten. There the
mayor views the project as his project, which is according to all experiences a very
important assumption. The administration has presented understandably and obviously
the budget as a sort of brochure or in the internet. The citizens have got countless
possibilities taking part on the consultations, for instance via questionnaires, internet or
in a citizen forum. Additionally, around 2000 citizen chosen by chance according to
demographic viewpoints have been invited. 90 citizen registered themselves, 76
actually came.

The debate dealt with six different possibilities to balance the budget:

– by the reduction of costs for staff and objects;

– by the reduction of building maintenance and –managing;
– by the reduction of voluntary service, so for example in culture and sport;
– by taking away support, savings;
– by rising the taxes and by taking on a credit;
– and by the selling of buildings.

The largest number of citizens decided for the selling of buildings. The council, the
communal parliament there, mainly followed this proposal.

The city of Hamm in Westfalen with 185.000 inhabitants set up its first citizen budget for
2003/2004. Therefore, 50.000 homes received appropriate brochures. Also, the citizens

have been asked for their main concerns, problems, questions etc. This questioning
showed that the streets and cycle ways were most important to most people. A citizen
forum and a questionnaire action also deal with this problem later on. Thus, the people
could point out a problematic topic first and then discuss their suggestions for the
appointed area. Then the council decided a part of the proposed methods and offered
the needed means. However, due to the lack of money, most of the from the citizen
given proposals had to be rejected. Most probably a frustrating event for all of the
participants. In my view, this procedure has to be changed in a way that all interested
people get to know the available amount of money and thus the possible steps at the
first place.

With the help of students, a very visual way explaining people the budget has been
done in the city of Hilden. In February 2003 the citizens were invited to an giant
Monopoly game, HILDOPOLY. The rules for the game where the following: Every field
of HILDOPOLY represented a part or service of the city of Hilden. Staff working in the
departments of the city council had to give answers to every question. The citizens
could ask and give proposals. Also, the city offered a “Budget Tour”, a bus tour, on
which interested people could ask about certain plans and events. So far, the model in
Hilden was limited on a better understanding about what the city spends people’s
money on, and on the collecting of suggestions for changes and amendments.

All of these models differ significantly from the procedure in Porto Alegre, in which the
citizens discuss the entire budget and formulate the priorities for the layout of the
budget, in which the suggestions of the citizens are very obligatory and the method of
the citizen participation is discussed and varied.

Who knows a bit about politics in Germany, is asking anyway, why precisely the interior
ministry of Nordrhein-Westfalen and the Bertelsmann Foundation put so much effort
into the citizen budget. So far both, however, did not really strike through a remarkable
basic democratic engagement. One can get a possible answer by looking at the budget
situation in the German communes. For a long time the revenues do not cover the
necessary expenditures anymore. Even apparently wealthy communes such as Munich
are in sever debt. Poorer communes even have to sell some of their best properties in
order to “survive”. Almost all communes had to take on credits, which they do not know

if and how to pay back. Almost none without a budget security concept that at least acts
as if there could be a balanced budget again in ten years time.

Despite the hope of objective, expertise decisions and the bigger acceptance of the
made decisions through the participation of the citizens, the next and most important
question, which the mentioned model trial should explain, is how do I show and explain
the budget situation to a citizen without making him angry or ‘run away’. Almost with
relief one of the first model result analysis says: ”The concern that for a proper citizen
participation on the budget financial play rooms are necessary has not become true.
Some project communes are being watched by a budget security concept. Especially
here it has been proved that the proposals and concerns of the citizens have been
done in a cost conscious way. The understanding for the necessity to safe exists. Also,
there is the willingness of the people to even renounce for their own disadvantage upon
public accomplishments”. The on the project participating 80.000 people housing town
Castrop-Rauxel, whose constant expenditures also could not been covered by the
revenues any longer, asked their citizens for suggestions to safe. The mentioned citizen
forum in the town of Emsdetten offered all “participants the opportunity to take part in
the involvement and discussion regarding the balance of the entire budget.” “The goal
was closing a financial gap of 2.8 Mio Euro. The aim of the citizen forum was to offer a
proposal to the council that would be able to close this financial gap” (2. Middle Report).
In the city of Rheinstetten the question is also about the citizen budget: “Should
Rheinstetten be in favour of the rise of the revenues or the reduction of voluntary

Hence, the question is not as in Porto Alegre the participation on budget decisions or at
least the consultations regarding the budget, but the acceptance of reductions, it is
about the participation on the administration of the increasingly larger becoming
shortage. At the end of the day the model is not about stopping the appearance of critic
and protest regarding the shortage by giving the citizens the feeling of taking part in the
shortages. That is why it is – in contrast to Porto Alegre – not about actual decisions of
the people but about their questioning. Logically, the middle reports have changed the
phrase “participation of the citizens” correctly into “the consultation of the citizens”. The
model project initiated by the Bertelsmann Foundation is thus a so called conservative
variant of the “Orçamento Participativo” of Porto Alegre. Strangely, it follows completely
the already mentioned model of the GDR, participation yes, but the basic conditions for
the participation remain absolutely untouchable. As seen then in the GDR, the citizen

should help managing the shortage and not think about the shortage. Somebody might
recognise that in this country, nevertheless one of the richest countries in this world,
some become wealthier and faster wealthy, and that thus there is no money in the
public tills any longer.

This is not a criticise the honest engagement the participating communal councils and
citizens. I also think the form of participation is a progress, since participation of the
citizen on the shortage management is still better than a shortage management without
their agreement. Within the communal field there does not exist any play room that
could question the basic neoliberal concept. I just want to point out that one should
always remember the involvement of the citizens into neoliberal concepts.

Finally, we will dare a little view into the future. One has to stress the German capital
Berlin, which is federal state and commune at the same time. There initiatives are most
often organised by the citizens of the city. In two groups of initiatives they try to support
the idea. Slowly, politics prepares itself for this. Two factors contributed to this largely.
First of all Berlin is bankrupt as no other federal state and even those are not well. In
Berlin nothing works without the help from outside, thus the federation anymore. It
seems that in such absolute emergency situations politics is willed easier going
different, unusual routes even going in compromises. At least all educational
associations close to the parties have already talked to each other and have organised
a joint event regarding this topic. This is even more remarkable considering I do not
know about a second joint event of the educational associations close to the parties
SPD, CDU, FDP, Gruene and PDS.

The second factor is the government participation of the left wing party PDS in single
city districts and in the federal parliament, the parliament of Berlin. Although it has got
some difficulties with the citizen budget it principally supports this idea. It has included
the citizen budget as a demand in the their new party programme. In Berlin it will make
participation as one of their brands. In some city districts of Berlin the city councils with
influence of the PDS start municipals that deal with this topic. Even in my own federal
state Brandenburg enclosing Berlin, first developments are visible. For instance, as the
first and so far only commune in Brandenburg the federal capital Potsdam has decided
to introduce “elements of a citizen budget” for the budget of the year 2005. In other

cities more or less intensive discussions are held about the possibilities of a bigger
citizen participation on the budget. The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Brandenburg is
supporting this development by their own internet site. Also, we are working on a
budget analysis, which should test what effects the new federal budget has on children
of the age to 12.

However, back to the Berlin initiatives “from below”. These initiatives have defined their
measures for a participation procedure on the budget and presented to the politics.
According to those measures differences and common characteristics of the model
trials between the Bertelsmann Foundation and the interior ministry of Nordrhein-
Westfalen become clear:

– Citizens should take part on political decisions already before the base line of the
decision has been fixed.
– The composition of the citizens should be balanced or in other words for the
population representative (no dominance of the “activists”).
– Low level opportunities for the participation should been offered (no long ways, less
time effort, no commitment to continuous involvement, no “dictatorship of the
– In a dialogue like procedure different suggestions have to be analysed by the
participating people and multiply voted solutions to be looked for.
– The expertise knowledge of the citizens should be used, but further needed
expertise been offered (by experts, administration and interest groups).
– At the beginning of the procedure one should agree under which conditions and in
which degree citizen proposals are given political binding for the final decision (for
example if in case of a rejection an explanation has follow).
– Groups with a weak articulation should be supported by the procedure.

In contrast to the model in Nordrhein-Westfalen citizens should be able to say their

opinion about the procedure of their participation. The should have a right expressing
their view about the determination of the priorities. And their involvement should be
more binding for the politics. As in Nordrhein-Westfalen offers regarding the citizen
participation should be easy to enter for everybody and the budget understandable and
clear without the need of expertise knowledge. The next two years will show most
probably if and how these visions become reality in Berlin.

All in all I can say: A not even similar ripe and far reaching procedure as in Porto Alegre
does so far exist in Germany. But slowly, very slowly the citizen participation on the
budget develops even in my country. Very certainly the citizen or participatory budget
remains an exiting topic and will most probably not be removed from the agenda.

IV Fórum Social Mundial, Mumbai, 16 a 21 de janeiro de 2004

Um projeto Ibase, em parceria com ActionAid Brasil, Attac Brasil e Fundação

Rosa Luxemburgo

O que é uma vida decente?

Síntese da palestra de Gita Sen,

Por Guacira Oliveira,
do Cfemea

A questão, hoje fundamental a partir de uma perspectiva de desenvolvimento

humano, já teve diferentes respostas. Os processos sociais e as disputas políticas
que levaram ao estabelecimento de contratos sociais, desde o século XIX,
delimitaram os parâmetros do que se reconheceu como uma vida decente.

Ao longo do século XX, firmaram-se contratos sociais que contemplavam

fundamentalmente três dimensões:

 A primeira dimensão tem a ver com a natureza da relação entre

trabalhadores/empregados e empregadores, pela qual define-se o que seja
trabalho, as condições em que deve se realizar e os direitos dos
trabalhadores (salário mínimo, jornada de trabalho etc).

 A segunda dimensão do contrato social tem a ver com o que se faz com as
pessoas que não estão empregadas. Esta, é claro, é a parte do contrato
que trata da seguridade social e dos serviços sociais.

 A terceira dimensão do contrato social diz respeito às relações Norte-Sul no

que se refere à assistência para o desenvolvimento. Ainda que
implicitamente, depois da Segunda Guerra Mundial e do período de
descolonização, os países do Norte reconheceram, em alguma medida, a
necessidade dos países pobres viabilizarem certos projetos sociais e
programas de desenvolvimento no Sul e, evidentemente, algum tipo de
acumulação de capital, além de apoio para a mobilização de recursos para

a criação de infra-estrutura. Alguns designam esta dimensão do contrato
como Bem-estar Social, outros preferem denominá-la de reparação pelo
colonialismo e para uma globalização inclusiva.

Gita Sen destaca que estas três dimensões do contrato social são gravemente
rebaixadas em termos de eqüidade de gênero. No que se refere à relação
empregado-empregador, o contrato com os trabalhadores nunca incluiu todos os
trabalhadores. Foi tipicamente um contrato que esteve dirigido aos trabalhadores
homens e somente àqueles que estivessem na situação principal de receber seu
salário e sustentar uma família, uma esposa “não trabalhadora” e seus filhos. Isto
significa que as mulheres foram colocadas em segundo plano e posição no
mercado de trabalho.

Analisando a dimensão da seguridade social no contrato, percebe-se que ela

alude a elementos críticos para a vida das mulheres: o cuidado com as crianças e
idosos, a assistência aos inválidos, a proteção aos que estão vivendo em
condições de altíssima vulnerabilidade. As possibilidades de realizar estes
cuidados chegaram muito mais tarde aos contratos sociais do século XX e não
tinham nenhuma pretensão universalizante. Na área da reprodução social os
direitos estão sub-reconhecidos, têm muito pouca relevância.

Neste ponto há que se enfrentar o fato de que tudo o que está estabelecido nos
contratos sociais é resultado de muitos esforços e lutas. Nada é dado pelo
Estado, mas sim conquistado. A natureza destes contratos está diretamente
vinculada às relações estabelecidas entre o Estado, o povo e as instituições como
os mercados. Portanto, se as pautas em discussão, se os termos da disputa entre
as partes não conferiram prioridade à reprodução da vida social, não se
orientaram pela eqüidade de gênero, tanto quanto pelo direito a um salário
mínimo decente, aqueles elementos, inevitavelmente, ficaram de fora do contrato,
ou presentes de maneira muito precária.

As duas últimas décadas demarcam um período de fraturas em diferentes

âmbitos do contrato social: em todo o mundo, os trabalhadores não têm mais os
direitos que tinham há vinte ou trinta anos; as garantias sociais também não são
mais as mesmas; e a assistência para o desenvolvimento está eivada de

O rompimento com direitos e a mudança nas regras de negociação sobre os

direitos e sobre a satisfação de necessidades básicas recolocam o debate sobre o
contrato social na ordem do dia. A questão do que seja uma vida decente se
renovou e exige novas respostas. Então, em que bases se poderia definir na
atualidade o que é uma vida decente?

Gita Sen vê no momento da fratura do velho contrato social a oportunidade de

construir novas propostas e caminhos para pensar o que seja uma vida decente.
Para avançar neste sentido, destaca um elemento estratégico: que a afirmação
dos direitos humanos universais ocupem um lugar central na discussão sobre o
que seja uma vida decente. Tendo este marco ético e político, no seu

entendimento, será possível levantar questões que nunca puderam ser suscitadas
antes, sob a vigência dos contratos sociais prévios. Questões sobre a justiça de
gênero, sobre os direitos das pessoas que foram marginalizadas e que tiveram
seus direitos negados sob os contratos anteriores têm de ser considerados
direitos fundamentais na nova definição do que seja uma vida decente.

Neste sentido, Gita Sen destaca especialmente dois aspectos: o primeiro deles
trata do papel decisivo das alianças políticas para a redefinição do que seja uma
vida decente, sobre bases mais abrangentes e fundadas no respeito aos direitos
humanos universais. A forma como se constituem e os princípios que orientam as
alianças políticas nesta disputa em torno da resignificação do que seja uma vida
decente são de fundamental importância. O tipo de amálgama político capaz de
promover mudanças paradigmáticas é qualitativamente diferente daquele que se
produz em conjunturas específicas para o apoio a uma ou outra causa. Por
exemplo, os atores políticos envolvidos em determinadas ações de combate à
pobreza ou esforços pelo cancelamento da dívida não necessariamente
reconhecem a eqüidade de gênero ou os direitos das minorias sexuais. Ou seja,
aqueles que em determinadas circunstâncias podem estar do mesmo lado numa
arena política, podem ser incapazes de promover juntos mudanças estruturais,
porque neste ponto se trata de ter mais do que questões em comum: é preciso
comungar dos mesmos princípios.

O segundo aspecto que Gita destaca em torno da definição do que seja uma vida
decente é, em verdade, uma crítica ao marco teórico de atendimento das
necessidades básicas de consumo como elemento definidor do que seja uma vida
decente. O problema da fome na Índia, por exemplo, implica a violação de vários
direitos humanos além do direito à comida. O atendimento desta necessidade
básica não se dará pela simples garantia de uma cesta de alimentos. Há muito
mais envolvido. A fome vem acompanhada de humilhação, muitas vezes de
violência doméstica, de cerceamento do direito à educação, de violação dos
direitos da criança, entre várias outras privações. Visto por outro lado, o simples
direito à comida, a não passar fome, contem inúmeros ingredientes: questões de
subordinação de gênero, hierarquia de castas, de pobreza, entre outros
elementos que são fundamentais e que devem ser compreendidos e
reconhecidos. Não se pode falar de necessidades básicas e serviços básicos que
desconsiderem estas dimensões, como dimensões prioritárias.

Além do problema da fome, Gita apresenta um outro exemplo: de 10 a 15% das

mortes por aborto inseguro na Índia são entre adolescentes. Trata-se da
necessidade básica de serviços de saúde. Quando não se garante o serviço de
interrupção da gravidez às adolescentes, os direitos delas, incluindo o aborto
quando necessário, não está sendo satisfeito. O problema destas mortes
desnecessárias não está sendo atacado. As necessidades básicas não estão
sendo atendidas.

Um exemplo final: vários estudos realizados na Índia indicam que uma das causas
de mobilidade social descendente, que leva famílias inteiras a situações
gravíssimas de pobreza, deve-se a enfermidade de algum membro da família. O

fenômeno decorre dos elevados custos da saúde, em especial dos
medicamentos. Mais do que a atenção médica, neste caso, a possibilidade de não
empobrecer e de levar uma vida decente vincula-se a uma ordem internacional
mais justa, ou seja, regras justas para o comércio internacional de medicamentos.

Gita alerta para a necessidade de se olhar para a questão da provisão de serviços

a partir de um marco mais amplo. Não se trata de um marco pluralístico, mas sim
holístico, que permita ver todas estas questões, suas conexões e como elas

Gita encerra reafirmando a importância de aproveitar a oportunidade de

reabertura dos diálogos perante a fratura dos contratos sociais, não apenas para
nos remetermos aos contratos sociais anteriores, mas para expandir o nosso
pensamento com vistas a um marco mais inclusivo e apropriado à afirmação dos
direitos humanos.

IV World Social Forum, Mumbai, 16 -21 January 2004

Project: Ibase
Partners: ActionAid Brasil, Attac Brasil e Rosa Luxemburgo Foundation

Public goods

Ulla Lötzer

Last month the European Commission and the European ministerial conference
presented a paper to the WTO council and the European parliament reviving the
negotiations after the breakdown in Cancun. The result: Hardly any alterations to the
positions at Cancun can be found.

Especially they decided: the service negotiations on GATS are key priority for the
European countries. Only one actual point that shows again: the topic “public goods” is
of paramount political importance to be able to intervene in the globalization process.
Therefore the scientific advisory board of Attac Germany, the NGO WEED an the Rosa
Luxemburg foundation started a project on this topic last summer.

One part of this is to set up a mailing list on this topic, to stimulate the exchange
process between scientists, social movements and politicians. As many people as
possible are invited to participate.

Although there are many individual case studies on privatization, there is no systematic
incorporation on it and the international debate on the definition, provision and financing
public goods, especially “global public goods” is in its infancy. This is why second part
of the project is to evaluate the effects of privatization of public goods on the living

condition of people.

We started this process with a study on the effects of liberalization and privatization in
the European union. The reasons for this starting point were: firstly, the basis of he role
of the European union in the disputes on liberalization and privatization in the
developing countries is the process of privatization and their effects in the European
countries itself; secondly, to define the united common interests between people in
industrial countries and developing countries in this affairs.

Let me tell you only some of the first results of the evaluation in an overview. Since the
end of the 80s, a wave of liberalization and privatization has overwhelmed the
European states, somewhat later than in the US or Great Britain, where the “neoliberal
counter revolution“ had already begun in the mid of the 80s an in the southern
European countries in the 80s by structural adjustment programs of the IMF and the
world bank.

Firstly it seemed to be a solution of the crisis of private capital, the slow-down of

economic growth in the mid of the 70s worldwide with a lack of investment opportunities
for private firms and financial investors. Opening up these sectors for private investors
created new perspectives for them.

A driving force of privatization was the European market integration, which established
the framework for market liberalization, which started with telecommunication, railways
and other public transportation systems, the postal system and energy.

At the same time the states lost income for taxes, the state debts greatly increased and
the public budgets had come under strong pressure by continued tax reductions. So
they started to privatize the public enterprises, taking forms of contracting out, public
private partnership models or cross-border-leasing arrangements of great varieties.50%
of the worldwide turnovers in privatization in 1998 were results of sales of European
public assets. The arguments to justify privatization relate to greater internal and
external efficiency, better provision for goods and services at lower prices and with less
bureaucracy as a result of more competition. But experience does not confirm this
claims but mostly displays the opposite.

Privatization often is the beginning of a wave of mergers and concentration. Public

monopolies are replaced by private monopolies with European dimension. The former
public enterprises in the telecommunication sector for example remain the greatest
supplier in the telecommunication market and have a share in other European
companies or joint ventures with other European companies. In the electricity markets
the companies have insisted on vertical integration of generation and distribution with
the result that 6 or 7 companies dominate the market.

This concentration is happening in a number of sectors, not only electricity. There are
now four large companies, each which sales of Euros 30 billion or more, which are
dominating the sectors electricity, waste and water, Suez, Vivendi, RWE and EON.

Liberalization led to price reduction for business customers in the electricity sector,
domestic customers however have not seen such sharp falls in prices, many remained
unchanged or even risen after a short period of transition.

An important consequence is the deterioration of working conditions, an increase of

bad jobs and the informal sector in combination with job losses in all these sectors.
Since the beginning of liberalization and privatization 850.000 jobs were lost.

Transparency, public regulation and control has proved to be unable. For example in
the privatized water concessions of France. In a 1997 report they stated: “the lack of
supervision and control of delegated public services, aggravated by the lack of
transparency of this form of management has led to abuses.“ And all forms of
privatization able created formidable windows of opportunities for widespread

There is a second wave off privatization: the social security systems, health, culture and
the education sector.

In those sectors the reforms are taken autonomously by the Member States, and the
European ministerial Conferences and the commission lay the ground for coordination
of the national policies.

And at least the privatization of knowledge. The trade in research intensive goods was
1998 51 percent of the exports of the industrialized countries. Patents are the key in the
international competition between the industrialized countries. And so the European

union too began in the 80s the process to widen patens on nature, plants, animals and
genes. The European regulations surpass the regulations in Trips in every point.

As a general conclusion we can say: the results are negative in Europe too. It led to
increasing inequality and social polarization, unemployment and deterioration of living
and working conditions.

On the other hand it led to great multinationals in these sectors with undemocratic
power and great profits.

Third part of the project will be to elaborate and concretize the concept of public goods
on a global, regional and national level:

There are some cornerstones on this:

In the traditional economic discourse, defining the Public good has been first and for
most a technical issue decides above all by the criteria of non-rivalry and non-
exclusiveness. However, there are on lay al few goods the nature of which
distinguishes them as pure public goods.

We think it always bears a political and normative component. “A public good is one
that the public decides to treat as a public good.“ (Malkin and Wildavsky, 1998)

What a society deems to be a public good depends on the respective historical context
and may change. So it will be an important part of the concept to look for democratic
regulations to decide on public goods.

Public goods and services should be established independently of the market

framework and the rules and regulation able to follow special social needs and rights
and political priorities and choices.

The set-up of public goods needs financial resources and therefore a continuous and
stable flow from the private to the public sector. The policy of competitive tax reduction
undermine the viability of the public sector and must therefore be terminated.