Jörg Huffschmid

1940 - 2009

The working group - called European Economists for an Alternative Economic Policy in Europe (EuroMemo Group) - is an association of European economists. It was established by Jörg Huffschmid in order to create a forum of critical economists and to "commit” them to the compilation of an annual EuroMemorandum. Both the idea for a yearly EuroMemorandum and the formation of the group go back to an initiative by Joerg Huffschmid: In September 1995 he invited economists of the - at that time - ten EU member states to a workshop in Strasbourg to critically question the direction of the EU’s economic and fiscal policy and to analyze its consequences. This was the hour of birth of the EuroMemo Group (see history). With regard to both, content and staff, the work of the group was enriched by co-operation with EU-projects co-ordinated by Joerg Huffschmid, the last of these having been Improvement of Economic Policy Coordination for Full Employment and Social Cohesion in Europe (2001-2004) and Privatisation and the European Social Model (2006-2009).

It was Joerg’s particular merit to have created a space on the European level for an exchange between and networking of critical economists who he committed to a joint "project”: not to accept quietly the subordination of all spheres of life under the doctrine of the economy, but to develop a vision of "another” Europe and to present realistic alternatives to approach step by step the goal of a social Europe. This was not always a space in which harmonious consonance or unanimity prevailed - the opposite was the case: the EuroMemo Group is a space of open discourse, of dedicated discussion and of critical reflection. As the group’s coordinator, Joerg Huffschmid succeeded in committing this heterogeneous group to common and central cornerstones, although in questions of detail dissent and controversy sprang up more than once. But it was and still is the endeavour not to negate these different perspectives and approaches within the critical political economy, but to make productive use of them, which makes this group of alternative economists so unique and precious.

With Joerg Huffschmid’s death, the EuroMemo Group has lost its founding father, its "driving force” and its most ambitious contributor. We will not forget, how Joerg in the plenum exerted himself on behalf of a social Europe and called for resistance against the neo-liberal EU-politics - his "weapons” were the argument, the empirically substantiated refutation of the assumptions underlying the prevailing guidelines and the development of alternative proposals for "another” Europe: full employment at good working conditions and for wages and salaries which make an independent life possible, social welfare and social justice, ecological sustainability and international solidarity.

The EuroMemo Group would not have existed without Joerg Huffschmid’s initiative and persistence. Clear-sighted as he was, he suggested already at an early stage to replace his central role in this European network by a Steering Committee. Thus the "production” of the annual EuroMemorandum and the continuation of the group are ensured. Following the motto, "If not us, who then?”, Joerg’s commitment and enthusiasm were catchy and have not lost any of their model character, the more so in times which do not generously provide encouragement. In all this, Joerg was not concerned with himself, posts, titles or funding quota, but with "the cause”: the improvement of living conditions for all, social justice, ecological sustainability, good working conditions, an economic policy for the people of Europe.

The void which Joerg’s death leaves in the circle of critical economists in Europe can hardly be closed. Yet, in midst all the mourning over the loss, there is one underlying tenor: the continuation of the work he initiated for a democratisation of the economy on the European level represents the highest recognition of his efforts. "The group has lost its leader”, one of its members wrote, and proceeded that "the best way to pay him due homage, is to continue his work”. In the face of Joerg’s zest for action, his obituary can only be concluded with an appeal for critically disputing the predominant orientation of politics and with an appeal for vehement commitment to democratic alternatives and to a social Europe.

 

EuroMemorandum 2017

The European Union: The Threat of Disintegration

 

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