Florenze 2002 – 2022: 20 years after the first European Social Forum | Restarting the Social Movements after Florence 2022

[The article in Greek – KLICK HERE]

Restarting the Social Movements

(After Florence 2022)

Towards a European network of social movements and civil society organizations

Kaiti Mylona

Representative of NatureFriends Greece in the European Social Network Seattle to Brussels/S2B

Ten years after the meeting of civil society organizations in Florence and even in the same place and 20 years after the 1st Meeting and the establishment of the European Social Forum, delegations from Europe, Africa, Latin America met on 10-13 November 2022 and exchanged views on the political situation in Europe and the priorities of social movements. A total of more than 700 delegates representing 155 Italian and European organizations participated.

When movements and European networks met in Florence in 2002 to create the first European Social Forum, economic and financial globalization had already begun to have an impact on societies, which would become evident a few years later.

The situation of our world has changed (rise of the far right in Europe, change of regimes in some countries in Latin America in a progressive/leftist direction, war between Russia and Ukraine as an example of the failure of the major powers to come together to solve international problems, destruction of the environment, new pandemics on the scene, rise of the refugee crisis, energy, climate, health and economic crises). So the problems are not missing, but what has changed is the form of the problems and their intensity; the need to protect the environment is still there, but now it has been ‘upgraded’ to a climate crisis; labour rights are concerned with a wider field, that of digital data; the defense of peace is always at stake, refugees are not only fleeing their homelands for economic reasons, or to avoid war, but also because the climate crisis is leaving behind more severe droughts or deadly floods and fires, while the rule of law is increasingly ignored and at worst flouted within the EU and beyond. The multinationals / transnational corporations in all sectors – known as BIG … – rule and dominate the world and impose their interests.

The European meeting held in Florence in the past few days with the participation of European movements, networks, trade unions and NGOs, entitled “Florence 10+10 – Joining forces for another Europe” had two main objectives:

First, to give a joint response – uniting social forces at least at European level – regarding the crisis and the policies imposed by the EU and ECB institutions.

Second, to build alliances for a long-term strategy that will allow us to build a social Europe, the Europe of European citizens.

That is the point, but for that to happen there must be movements.  Austerity has generally not allowed social movements, especially in the southern EU countries, to develop.

Some questions therefore arise:

– What is the state of the movements today?

– Can the movements respond to the neoliberal attack on societies around the world?

– Can movements work together at European or even global level to provide a political response to the way in which our globalized world is governed?


Regarding Europe and the EU, we see the predominance of the Right and the Far Right, first within the structures of society and attitudes, then in governments, while the EU is increasingly being tied to the US chariot and more neoliberal concepts in economics and politics. Even the European Parliament, the EU’s only elected body and until recently the most progressive, has become the long arm of the more conservative circles of the Commission and the Council of Ministers.

Nevertheless, some movements have been able to develop in some countries in a left/progressive direction. Some of them have been organized at a pan-European or even global level. Two of them are TNI (Transnational Institute) and S2B (Seattle to Brussels). Friends of Nature is a member of S2B and collaborates with TNI.

S2B has references to the beginning of the anti-globalization movement in Seattle, USA. Today it is a European social movement, in a left-wing direction and with member organizations of the Civil Society from most EU member countries and Greece, of course. S2B challenges neoliberal politics and financial capitalism and fights for tackling climate change, for labour rights, for the abolition of the TRIPS Agreement on patents on vaccines and medicines, against Free Trade Agreements and the system of illegal arbitration tribunals (ISDS), which determine our lives, our food and our health in accordance with the interests of multinational corporations, is in favour of reforming the WTO and the UN, is in favour of withdrawing the EU from the ECT Agreement and abolishing it so that we can get rid of fossil fuels. The inability to take a decision on the modernization of this Agreement, as the EU was planning, since it would have meant embellishing the Agreement without changing anything of substance, is due to the coordinated action of the social movements in the EU, including TNI (Transnational Institute) and S2B (Seattle to Brussels). A few countries withdrew from the Agreement unilaterally, since the EU as a whole would not withdraw, and abstained in the vote. It should be noted that Germany’s decision to withdraw from the Agreement and abstain in the vote tipped the balance and this is also due to the action and strong efforts of the Social Network PowerShift.

The Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt in mid-November was disappointing, except for the decision on compensation for the damage caused by powerful countries to small countries, but we need to see that happen. The social movements there have not been able to impose their view on stopping global warming, only to stop some things.

After Florence and the decision of the movements that participated, the issue now is the dissemination of this information in our country and the organization of the interested CSOs in Greece and the organization of events to raise awareness of the high stakes of our time.

The NatureFriends Greece declare their presence…

Already, it has been decided to organize an anti-synod – Alter COP – at the official next COP28 by the UN.

2022Firenze closes opening a new period of international mobilization.

2022Firenze closes by opening a new era of convergence between social actors and movements in Europe. https://bit.ly/3B7Kaf4

S2B already next week starts the collective work in this direction. The NatureFriends Greece will participate…