Thematic axes Global Challenges

Catalunya Europa Foundation presents the document "Exploring the Limits of Consensus"

More than 50 proposals to put inequalities in the center of debate


"It is important to start from the premise that inequality is a problem", said Joan Carles Gallego, former secretary general CC.OO. in Catalonia, during the presentation of "Exploring the Consensus Limits to Combat Inequalities", a document with more than 50 proposals aimed at the field of business, work, institutions and public policies and taxation, which aims to be a starting point to discuss and reflect on what is the social consensus to move towards a more inclusive society fair.

This document arises from the different proposals of the colloquiums between international experts in the field of inequalities, Joseph Stiglitz, Kate Pickett, Jacob S. Hacker, Gabriel Zucman, Frank Moulaert, Marisol Garcia, Colin Crouch, Andrew Williams, Paula Casal, Marc Fleurbaey and Manuel Castells and representatives of the business, trade union and institutional world and that has promoted the Catalunya Europa Foundation within the framework of the "Re-City" project.

Gemma Sendra, one of the promoters of this project, highlighted the importance of the Re-City platform that has the support of public and private entities to address different areas considered major global challenges, inequalities, climate change or technological change . The proposals that were submitted correspond to the "Combating Inequalities" cycle, which began in 2017.

"The document is a bet to bring inequalities to debate," said Pere Almeda, who coordinated the challenge "Combating Inequalities". Each of the sessions of the cycle consisted of a conference, a seminar with academics and a dinner-colloquium with business, union and political representatives. The sessions were used to address different aspects of inequalities such as the effects and consequences of inequity, tax havens, the effects of inequalities in politics, the consequences of inequality on health and even inequalities and climate change. Pere Almeda considers that inequalities are one of the great contemporary challenges that the debates and the political agenda of the country in which they would have to focus.

For his part, the professor of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Xavier Ramos, who has coordinated the network of scholars on inequalities, stressed the importance of involving the business world in the debate on inequalities. Companies, he says, should be interested in combating inequalities because it benefits them. In an indirect way, because a very unequal situation can harm economic growth. And in a more direct way, because inequality has a very detrimental effect on trust, and our societies are essentially based on trust. Within companies, a decrease in inequalities improves the cohesion and well-being of workers who end up being much more productive. Reasonable and socially acceptable salary dispersion levels are necessary, said the academic.

One of the participants in the discussions prior to the preparation of the document "Exploring the Consensus Limits" was the Secretary General of CECOT, David Garrofé, who recognized that a lower salary gap improves the productivity of companies. In this sense, says Garrofé, family businesses are usually a good example of this practice. "From a correlation of 1/50 the fiscal pressure would have to be much stronger", said Garrofé. It also considers that workers should have a participation in the quarterly results, a practice that is already being implemented very frequently in start-ups.

"The minimum wage should not scare us", said Garrofé. At the same time, a profound restructuring of the country's occupational model is necessary to give way to untrained workers who have a risk of seeing their place replaced by technology. Finally, it also considers that the requirements cannot be the same for small and large companies.

"It is important that we have started from the premise that inequality is a problem", says Joan Carles Gallego, former Secretary General of CCOO in Catalonia. For Gallego, there is an important relationship between syndication, income levels and inequalities. The data show that the less union, the more inequality. "Therefore", says Gallego, "it is necessary that unions have a role of counterweight in companies, and at the same time, they need to adapt to the current environment, to be able to respond to workers who enter and leave the workplace. labor market or those who work in micro businesses".

Another of the participants in the document was former General Director of the Circle of Economy and businessman, Jordi Alberich, who said that a large part of the proposals can only be conducted by a supranational body, in this case, the European Union. "The role of the European Union is fundamental, we must move towards a harmonization of taxes." In spite of everything, affirms Alberich, from the nearest institutions one can also advance. Alberich stressed the importance of experimenting with new measures before a society in change. "Public institutions have to have the courage to experiment," said the businessman. The challenge is that in these moments of technological revolution there are not many citizens who stay halfway.

The closing of the act was in charge of Albert Castellanos, general director of vice-presidency and economy and finance of the Generalitat de Catalunya, who stressed the importance of seeing the business world as an agent of social transformation. For Castellanos, the proposals presented "Exploring the limits of the Consensus", have two differential values, first, the will to create a debate from Catalonia with international ambition and, secondly, it is one of the proposals that pretend explain what is the contribution of Catalonia in the world.