While leaders from the Group of Seven nations (G7) gear up to meet for the bloc’s annual summit in Biarritz, another group of people who oppose the international summit are conducting their own summit.
Thousands of people are expected to take part in the counter-summit organised by G7-EZ and Alternatives G7 — two umbrella groups formed by more than 50 anti-globalisation groups, left-wing political parties, and unions.
It seeks to present an “alternative” way of thinking to those of the G7 leaders, according to a press release by the organisers.
Activists belonging to these organisations are meeting at the counter-summit in Hendaye and Irun across the Spanish-French border for three days of conferences, talks, and workshops that will tackle the questions on the environment, capitalism, feminism, and immigration.
On Saturday, they will hold a pacific rally to protest the beginning of the G7 meeting. The next day, activists will hold peaceful civil disobedience actions in seven different main squares in three towns around the area.
But who are these activists and what are they hoping to achieve with the counter-summit?
The organisers behind the counter-summit told Euronews, the gathering was a way of denouncing the politics of the G7 which they accused of being "at the service of the rich".
Aurelie Trouve, spokesperson for the Association pour la Taxation des Transactions financières et pour l'Action Citoyenne (ATTAC) — an activist organisation that promotes the establishment of a tax on foreign exchange transactions — as well as the Alternatives G7 group, told Euronews that politics endorsed by the G7 worsen inequalities, the environmental crisis, poverty, and war.
"It's also these policies that lead thousands to try and seek refuge in Europe and who are then neglected by these same leaders," she said.
"There is an urgent need for another economic and social model and in that sense, we decided to organise this counter-summit," said Arturo Villanueva, a spokesman for the other umbrella group organising the summit G7 EZ!
All the organisers said the summit's primary focus was to show people that there are alternatives to the current economic and social model.
"We want people to realise that there isn't only the G7 way or the system we currently live in but that there are alternatives," said Valentine Pignon from ActionAid, an NGO that fights against poverty worldwide.
"We want people to get engaged and fight for another system," she added.
Organisers also stressed that they hoped the counter-summit would show that social movements are at the forefront in the fight for an alternative model.
"We think it's important to organise and be part of this counter-summit to show that social movements are present and unified in the fight against the politics of the G7 leaders," said Pignon.
How is the counter-summit carrying out its mission?
Participants attend workshops, conferences, and debates where they speak about alternative models to end social injustice, poverty, and climate change, said Villanueva.
Through these activities, participants "say no to the rampant capitalism represented by the G7," he added.
What is meant by 'alternatives'?
According to Villanueva, some of the alternative models being discussed at the counter-summit include proposals from ecosocialism — an ideology stating that the expansion of the capitalist system is the cause of social exclusion and poverty.
"We are also looking at ways of organising to welcome migrants and organising in towns and cities to welcome them," he said.