STUDY PROGRAMME OF THE FUNDACIÓN ALTERNATIVAS LABORATORY FOR 2005-2007
The Laboratory's study programme 2002-2004, approved by the Fundación board at the meeting of its delegate committee on 21 February 2002, has been completed to a very large extent. At the end of March, 66 working documents had been released in completion of the guidelines and priorities contained in that Programme and 26 projects were in the process of being drawn up, their publication scheduled for 2005.
Approaching the Programme for the new triennial period 2005-2007 requires some reflection on what has already been done, on the change in circumstances experienced by our country and, of course, on the new priorities established on the political agenda.
The ambitious 2002-2004 Programme could not be fully implemented if at the same time attention was to be paid to changing social interests, which required placing the emphasis on fresh approaches and altering the priorities established initially. Having said that, however, the results reveal a broad development of practically all the areas of the Programme. In other cases, and in view of a reality in a state of flux, it would be a good idea to go over some of the issues studied in order to reconsider or complete the suggestions made from fresh perspectives. Lastly, it is undeniable that the change of social and political circumstances produced in relation to those prevailing in 2002 makes it essential to incorporate issues, concerns and debates which had not been raised then into the new three-year Programme. All this is intended to keep our finger on the pulse of social concerns and foreseeable political agendas. The purpose of the Laboratory is certainly not to engage in debates very much related to the present moment or those of fleeting importance. Instead, its purpose is to bring rigorous information, reliable reflection and responsible proposals to the ongoing and desirable debate over what must be understood by social progress and the most appropriate methods of promoting it.
From this perspective the 2005-2007 Programme lends continuity in many respects to the lines marked out in the previous Programme, it reinforces the priority already given to some areas and introduces other new ones. In particular, the following points must be highlighted:
- Quality of Democracy is given a decisive boost with regard to the number of issues considered and to their relative priority. Along these lines, the intention is to pay particular attention to the nature and effective operation of the basic institutions of a representative democracy.
- Much attention continues to be paid to the factors on which long-term sustainable growth depends and particularly to human resources, technological resources and business creativity.
- The social rights embodied in the welfare state – particularly access to education, health care and the pensions system as essential elements for the basic equality of citizens – require the introduction of fresh analytical perspectives to improve the quality of these services, make them fundable and guarantee their social goals.
- Our intention is to place special emphasis on the guaranteeing of conditions of equality and the courses of action to that end: the legal recognition of rights, wherever necessary; positive action policies to tackle de facto inequality or discrimination; and lastly, economic mechanisms targeted at a different treatment of inequality through both public income and public expenditure.
- Approaching full employment in an open and globalized society like the current one requires no little attention being paid to the trends existing in the labour market, to the behaviour of social agents and the most suitable regulations to guarantee social rights while ensuring economic efficiency.
- The Programme contains two ambitious Projects intended to continue over time. The first is to publish – with the support of a major team of political and social sciences specialists – a periodical Report on the Quality of Democracy in Spain and its development based on reliable indicators capable of producing a synthetic index. The second is the commitment to draft and publish a Report on Corporate Social Responsibility which includes the state, development and social consequences of this recent conception of the conduct of companies in developed capitalism.
Below is the content of the different lines of work of the 2005-2007 Programme and there is some tentative indication of the anticipated themes. The precise content of each section will be the object of annual updating.
1.- The Institutional Political Framework and Quality of Democracy: freedoms, justice and security.
This section will cover research aimed at exploring the operation and improvement of the basic institutions of our democratic system: government, parliament, the judiciary and the management of the justice system. We shall also inspect the operation of the political parties as basic institutions of social pluralism and their way of thinking on democratic participation, transparency and responsibility. Likewise, the exceptional role that trade unions play in the economic and social pivoting of an advanced economy warrants assessing their current activity and future prospects.
The role of the media in the forming of public opinion and in the political debate requires a diagnosis and proposals for improvement which at least accompany the reform of the publicly-owned media – not forgetting the necessary transparency of the relationship between political and economic power and the control of the privately-owned media.
A secular state such as ours, which recognizes the fundamental right to religious freedom, has to be capable of forming its educational institutions and institutions of other natures in harmony with the constitutional requirements which determine the necessary content of secular civil ethics. Several projects will be directed at this exploration.
2.- The Model of Growth of the Spanish Economy
The pursuit of social progress in its most economic dimension has to be capable of combining the ingredients of material growth with both environmental stability and fairness in the distribution of the fruits of that growth – all of which are aspects which will receive due attention. The aim of this section is to gather together discussion and proposals regarding the main factors of growth, the role of the different social agents – both private and public – and specific, general or sectorial policies targeted at growth.
Within the framework of the EMU, growth and the welfare of citizens have to be promoted via the real convergence of the Spanish economy with the most advanced economies in Europe. We shall continue to analyse the role that falls to the different agents in Research, Development and Innovation, investment in human and physical resources and the institutional reforms capable of increasing economic efficiency. The promotion of an economy directed at knowledge and of growth based on the improvement of productivity will be at the centre of these studies. We want to pay greater attention to the role of companies as agents of integration of productive factors and promoters of economic dynamism, to their mechanisms of corporate governance and their conduct as regards social responsibility.
Due attention will be given to financial, fiscal and budgetary policies aimed at both improving economic efficiency and ensuring appropriate personal and territorial distribution of the fruits of growth. This view of the economy, however, cannot conceal the importance of some macroeconomic analysis and analysis of different sectorial perspectives in areas such as finance, the tourism sector, other service areas, technologically advanced industries, energy in its different forms, the present and future of the primary sector, the importance of Spanish investment abroad or exports.
Employment will continue to occupy a significant place in our studies, in line with its social importance. To do so, we shall study the strategies that bring us closer to full employment, the parity of women and men in the labour market in terms of salary, reconciling work and family life, particularly maternity and employment. We shall also analyse the tools and policies available to combat the lack of job security among certain collectives such as women, young people or immigrants; we shall study the impact of the growing number of immigrants and their insertion into the labour market, territorial inequalities in the labour market and the problems derived from the offshoring of companies or the frequency of accidents at work.
Collective bargaining, its structure and content, active and passive policies in the labour market and the role of the public employment agencies will inspire fresh projects and proposals.
Education is the next section on our Programme. We wish to contribute to the debate on the organization of compulsory education in Spain, analysing the validity of the current model. We shall study the contribution of the current model to the reduction of inequality and we shall propose improvements. But we shall also put forward proposals for improving the quality of the system – the real focus of debate over the future – and we shall study the financing needs of the different levels of education policy. We shall pay specific attention to vocational training and university and post-graduate education, as well as the relationship between these and research activity and insertion into the labour market.
In health, we shall look into the possible models of management in the national health system and in the participation of those it attends. Laying the foundations necessary to secure the financing and the coordination of the system will be given special attention. We shall also study how to improve the quality of primary health care and hospital administration. We shall investigate aspects of pharmaceutical policy and health defence policies in the face of the risks derived from contagious diseases, environmental deterioration or health emergencies. And we shall tackle the new ethical problems derived from scientific advances.
6.- Social Protection, Family Support and Immigration
With regard to the system of social protection and of family support policies we shall analyse the impact of processes such as an ageing population, gender equality, migratory flows on the structure of the traditional mechanisms of social protection. We shall formulate proposals on new guaranteed standards of protection.
We also want to put forward ideas on the way of caring for the weakest and most needy sectors of our society. To this effect, there is an urgent need to deal with the problems involving immigration. For this reason, we shall make proposals aimed at enabling greater integration of new immigrants via the education system or with the required adaptations of housing policies, health care or benefits of a social nature.
As far as culture is concerned, firstly we shall specify the concept, both from the point of view of the plural identities which exist together in our territory and in relation to the recovery of cultural expressions that were marginalized by the successive "orthodoxies" imposed throughout our history. Then, we shall inquire about the needs and about the limits of action on the part of the authorities. Secondly, we shall link the concept of culture and the notion of cultural exception with policies of public support, specifying the conditions of compatibility of these policies with the defence of creative freedom. Thirdly, we want to study the way of ensuring and guaranteeing the work of creators of culture and their social protection, recognizing intellectual property, be it in the record industry, publishing or on the Internet. We shall investigate the relationships between culture and the media, particularly the role of television as an instrument for promoting culture while at the same time we shall propose a series of audiovisual policies. In parallel with that, we shall review the existing public support for music and the record industry and we shall study the present and future of local television. Lastly, we mean to set out the foreign dimension of our culture and the exchange with other expressions beyond our borders.
8.- Housing, Urban Development and Transport
One of the biggest and most complex problems in Spain today is housing. That is why we shall analyse housing policy, with particular regard to the problems in accessing housing experienced by young people; programmes of financing and fiscal promotion for its purchase; the rental market and the restoration of old properties. We shall also study how to improve the quality of life in cities; possible changes in the approach to town planning; and the strategies for regenerating the most run-down urban areas to prevent the creation of pockets of exclusion and marginalization. Movement around the territory has much to do with the kinds of transport used and intermodal relations. The preference for one's own vehicle and the poor development of rail means and collective means in general require special consideration in urban design, with unquestionable environmental and energy implications.
Madrid, 15 June 2005