THE 2004 European Social Forum (ESF) is set to take place in London in October. It will bring together tens of thousands of anti-capitalist activists and campaigners. The latest in a series of European Assemblies to plan the ESF took place in Istanbul, Turkey, last weekend.
The Unison and CWU unions both sent delegates from Britain along with representatives from CND, the National Assembly Against Racism, the Tobin Tax network and other organisations.
It was agreed that it will start on Thursday 14 October with an opening rally. Plenaries, workshops and seminars will take place on 15-16 October. On Sunday 17 October there will be an Assembly of the Social Movements and a demonstration in the afternoon.
A number of broad themes such as war, neo-liberalism and labour, racism, and the environment were identified as key themes. Many of the British delegates argued for war and imperialism to be the dominant theme at the ESF, reflecting the centrality of imperialism to the outside world. On Sunday there was a debate around a proposal put forward for the Assembly of Social Movements on the final day of the ESF to draw up an "alternative EU constitution".
But-in a debate that was not resolved at Istanbul-many delegates challenged this proposal. At the last two ESF meetings the assembly was based on discussions at the ESF and initiated major international mobilisations.
Drawing up an alternative constitution would also make it difficult to broaden the base of the ESF in Britain. Recently new forces like the TUC and major trade unions have come on board. But the trade union movement in Britain is divided over the question of Europe. And, for most people, it is not the central question.
This and other discussions will continue in Berlin on 18-20 June at the next Europe-wide assembly to plan the ESF.