European governments alike continue to promote austerity and to raid zillions from the majority to prop up the banks. They also want more centralised top down integration of Europe, without democratic representation.
It is unclear who, apart from a few very rich people, will benefit.
Conservative and social democrats governing the Continent have no answers that satisfy the need of the majority of European people.
What about the Party of the European Left, a grouping in the European Parliament that stands to the left of Social Democracy and includes Germany’s Die Linke and France’s Front de Gauche. Does it have the answer?
Here’s two of their most recent statements on the crisis:
Statement of Pierre Laurent on European summit : divisions and no solutions
Yesterday, once again, European leaders showed their inability to resolve the crisis of the Euro. And Nicolas Sarkozy has once again yielded to the demands of the German Chancellor. By ruling out any solution based on solidarity, the Franco-German couple is again guilty of sowing divisions within the countries of the euro zone, divisions which will weigh heavily for the future of Europe. Worse is to be expected in the coming weeks and months.
The recapitalisations which are being discussed at present and the use of the European Financial Stability Fund remain totally determined by market demands. This amounts to a signal to banks that they may continue to launch speculative attacks on the debts of states.
What is the sense of a reform of treaties in order to impose fiscal discipline on member states for three years? This is precisely what is already being applied through austerity plans that are undermining growth, destroying jobs and ultimately creating even more debt.
Once again European leaders are attacking the symptoms of the crisis rather than its causes. Instead of filling a bottomless pit, it is necessary to change the banking and financial systems by taking banks back into public control so as to transform credit policies, and using the power of the European Central Bank which, if it lent directly to countries, would render futile speculative attacks, whose victims today are Greece, France, Portugal, Italy and Spain.
This is exactly what Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy stubbornly refuse to accept. And this is exactly what the European Left defends with force and determination. We will not let the markets and rating agencies impose their blackmail.
Brussels, 24 October 2011
Pierre Laurent – President of the Party of the European Left
The EU will either be democratic, social and act in solidarity or it will not exist!
The EU is today going through the worst crisis since its foundation. This crisis is part of a global financial, economic, social, ecological and political crisis, which is hitting people very hard, starting with women and young people, for whom the future is looking darker.
A new period has started, in which the capitalists are prepared to do anything to protect their interests and not to pay for their crisis, to the point of threatening democracy and bringing whole peoples to their knees. In Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland, gouvernements, in agreement with the injunctions of the “troika” – European Commission, ECB, IMF – organise the plundering and impose on the people brutal and ineffective austerity measures, privatizations and the destruction of social rights. The attacks against these countries and the racist campaigns against the “lazy people from the south” are unacceptable. The EL affirms once again its unwavering solidarity with the people concerned.
This offensive is now extending to all EU countries with the Euro Pact and the “new economic governance” which aims to deconstruct what little remains of the social state and public services, while compressing salaries and social rights. Countries would be invited to apply these destructive policies and would be automatically sanctioned if they refused. This forced harmonisation, is in the process of killing the idea of a Union based on solidarity among the countries of Europe. It is leading Europe into a dead end that will fail in prospecting a future for young people.
Faced with this situation, strong resistances are growing up throughout the continent. A great need for alternatives is expressed in the mobilisations of the « indignant » in Spain, Greece and all over Europe, who are rightly demanding real democracy, and for money to be used to serve the needs of the people. The multiple general strikes and the large-scale social unrest that have taken place in Greece, Spain, France, Portugal, Britain and other countries, are calling directly for a change of policy.
The EL has always criticised the present model of EU construction, where institutions and policies are distorted by the primacy of the interests of the ruling classes in the EU member states, the financial markets and the banks over those of the people. The EL has always fought against the policies of social and fiscal dumping, the deregulation of markets and the rules imposed by the European Central Bank which are at the origin of the sovereign debt.
The EL is in favour of a different kind of European construction. Ultranationalist and euro-chauvinist appeals lead to a dead-end. The consecutive calls for “national unity”, made by the social-democratic, conservative and liberal leaders in many countries, aim to reinforce the consensus on neoliberal solutions. They are not the solution. It is time for solidarity and for the refoundation of the EU: either it will be democratic, social, and operating in solidarity or it will not exist.
The ambition of the EL is to work towards the convergence of struggles in Europe. The EL calls on all forces that resist: trade unionists, intellectuals, people from the field of culture, actors of the social movements, to build everywhere fronts of resistance to the austerity policies in order to impose the primacy of human needs rather than the demands of finance.
The ambition of the EL is to build a left alternative which gives political prospectives to all struggles. The EL proposes therefore to debate the following proposals:
We fight against austerity measures and privatisations, which are only useful for creating new markets and profits for the capitalists. The member parties of the European Left have voted against the different national austerity plans in the EU. We want to defend, improve and develop public services, in order to fight against inequalities. We are strongly opposed to the Euro Pact and the new economic governance, which aim to institutionalise austerity in all European countries.
We demand public audits on the public debt and the restructuring of the debt on a European level, through the selective cancellation of the public debt, as well as an extension of the reimbursement deadlines, facilities of payments (for the pension funds and public deposits) and eurobonds.
We fight for monetary and economic policies in the service of the people. To respond to the urgency of the situation and also to avoid new crises and build a new development model in Europe, we propose to change the role and the missions of the ECB. The ECB should urgently absorb a part of national public debts. It must also use its power of monetary creation, in order to finance projects for decent job creation (in industry, research, new modes of production etc) and national and European public services.
In this perspective, the EL will also use the process of a European citizens’ initiative to debate with and propose to european citizens, the creation of a European fund for social development and solidarity. Contrary to the European Stability Fund, it should distribute financing for projects on the basis of social and environmental criteria. Funded by the ECB, part of the EU budget and the taxation of financial transactions and revenues, it would free public investments from financial markets and would disarm the speculators.
The public and democratic control of banks and the financial sector is a tool to impose popular control of the economy. This includes the perspective of the nationalistation of the banks which make their profits from the disaster, such as the Deutsch Bank. Credit, investment choices, financial transactions should not serve speculation but projects which create jobs, safeguard public services and are ecologically sustainable. A publicly-owned pole of credit is a key instrument to this end.
We fight for a radical redistribution of wealth, a fair fiscal system in countries and in the EU and measures to avoid dumping. Contrary to neoliberal policies that increase the tax for low and middle incomes, we want rich people and revenue from capital to contribute more, and for financial transactions to be taxed. These principles should be harmonised in the EU to avoid fiscal competition against the people. These new resources will permit the EU and national budgets to be increased and become urgently a tool for the reduction of inequalities between the different countries and peoples.
We demand, together with the trade unions, notably the ETUC, equality of social rights and standards. Enough of the competition between workers that lowers salaries and rights! We want wage increases all over Europe, wage equality between men and women and the creation of a european minimum wage, by law or by collective agreement, built up progressively while taking into consideration the individual situations of different countries. We want new powers for workers within companies, which would allow them to influence the orientation and organization of their work, including the right to veto plans which involve speculation, restructuring or delocalisation. We want tools that allow the workers to struggle against precariousness in their company and to set up employment and training security as fundamental principles of labour laws or collective agreements in european countries. An « upward » harmonization of labour law could help avoid social dumping. This could be done to begin with through a «clause of the most-favoured European», as the feminists claim in relation to women’s rights.
We want real democracy in Europe. We are fighting against the authoritarian and repressive policies of a series of national governments and of the EU leadership. The repression and the prevalence of unelected bodies such as the IMF or others which are not subject to democratic control, such as the ECB, must end. Popular participation in all its forms (public debates, European citizens’ initiative, referendums…) must be at the heart of European institutional mechanisms. The powers of all elected bodies, including local, national and the European parliaments, must be strengthened.
Real democracy at all levels can guarantee financial responsibility, transparency and allow job creation, maintaining social rights, male-female equality, reduction of poverty and precariousness and the respect of migrants’ rights. Democracy can open the path to all the social changes which European societies need today. For this to happen, current EU treaties would have to be radically transformed, on the basis of peoples’ needs and democracy, by decisions ratified through referenda, with the primary goal of getting rid of the neoliberal model and securing democracy.
In conformity with these basic principles and these political objectives, the EL reaffirms its dedication to the formation of a European front of resistance and alternatives which is capable of radically changing current power relationships. The EL as of today will be in the service of the forces who are struggling – notably trade unions and the « indignant » movement – networking with them in every way possible, including through IT and alternative media. It supports and will participate in the European mobilizations called for by the national and European trade unions and the indignants movements the 15th October, as well as the anti-G20 demonstration in France on the 1st of November.
European Left Executive Board
Trevi, 16th July 2011