We must stop believing that individual prosperity exists independently of common prosperity. Anna Mercadé, Director Association of Entrepreneurs of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce
The concept of the common good had been long forgotten, but for some time now the idea has been finding its way back into the public's consciousness. It has a long tradition. Plato and Aristotle wrote in "The Republic (Politeia)" and "Politics" respectively that the common good is the highest goal of a political community. Thomas Aquinas incorporated the term into Christian social ethics. There are equivalent concepts in virtually every culture, such as "buen vivir" in Latin America, "Ubuntu" in Africa, "Dharma" in Buddhism, or "happiness" in Bhutan. The universality of the value of the common good can also be seen in that it is firmly anchored in the constitutions of many modern democracies.
"All economic activity shall serve the common good."
(Bavarian Constitution, art. 151)
"The accumulation of capital shall not be an end in itself, but a means for developing the national economy."
(Bavarian Constitution, art. 157)
"Property entails obligations. Its use shall also serve the public good."
(German Basic Law, art. 14)
"The law shall determine economic planning so that public and private-sector economic activity is aligned to the common good."
(Italian Constitution, art. 41)
"The entire wealth of the country in its various forms and irrespective of ownership shall be subordinated to the general interest."
(Spanish Constitution, article 128)
"Economic activity and private initiatives can be freely exercised within the limits of the common good."
(Constitution of Colombia, article 333)
Good reasons for the ECG
- According to a survey conducted by the Bertelsmann Foundation in 2010, 88% of all Germans and 90% of all Austrians want a new and more ethical economic order that pays more respect to the protection of the environment and to social equality.
- Study on Environmental Awareness in Germany 2014: A large majority (67%) see a new direction for the economic system - away from GDP growth and towards life satisfaction - as the most important goal of economic and social policy. Endorsement rates amongst the young were especially high. Here, as many as 70% would like to see Gross Social Benefit as a new indicator instead of Gross National Product. The authors of the study recommend new prosperity indicators as a modern and timely development that should be adopted by policy makers.
- The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopts the values of "Economy for the Common Good – a Sustainable Economic Model for Social Cohesion" on 15 September 2015 with an 86% vote in favour. The EESC believes the ECG should be integrated into the legal framework of the EU and its member states, and calls on the European Commission to take measures to reward companies that have a high ethical performance.
- "Focussing on the common good is, for me, the bedrock of the future."
Helmut Lind, banker, CEO of Sparda Bank Munich and ECG Ambassador