The big story at the latest crunch EU summit was a new growth pact promoted by new French President Francois Hollande. The mood music was supposed to be upbeat – EU politicians were finally doing something for the common people of Europe, rather than simply serving the super-rich and the banks.
But the growth pact (designed to give a big boost for jobs) turned out to be a bit of camp squib: 120 billion euros of hard-to-get funds, compared to the one trillion-plus euros the European Central Bank has chucked at the private banks in recent months, and the 100 billion-euro top up, solely for Spanish banksters.
Furthermore, the economically mad Fiscal Compact (AKA Permanent Austerity Treaty), which enforces a balanced budget on EU member states, remains.
But these might be the least of the crimes and misdemeanors of European leaders at a summit that was billed as potentially turning a page towards a brighter future for the Continent.
For as Le Monde Diplomatique points out, hidden in the detail of the European Council document Hollande, Merkel and others agreed on June 28-29 was a further privatisation push: a text that appears to pave the way for an accelerated opening up public services and ‘network’ industries like communications, energy, water, post and transport to private profit:
Page 7 (our emphasis)
In the implementation of the country-specific recommendations, Member States will put particular emphasis on the following aspects:
promoting growth and competitiveness, notably by addressing deep-rooted imbalances and going further in structural reforms to unlock domestic potential for growth, including through opening up competition in network industries, promoting the digital economy, exploiting the potential of a green economy, removing unjustified restrictions on service providers…
3) Further urgent measures are needed at the level of the European Union in order to boost growth and jobs, enhance the financing of the economy in the short to medium term and make Europe more competitive as a location for production and investment.
(a) Deepening the Single Market by removing remaining barriers will be a key factor in promoting growth and jobs, in particular in digital and network industries.
The Commission intends to present further growth-enhancing measures to that end in autumn 2012 as part of the second Single Market Act. Important progress has already been achieved on the measures which are part of the first Single Market Act, including the adoption of the proposal on standardisation and the agreement reached in the Council on the proposals on accounting, venture capital and social entrepreneurship funds and alternative dispute resolution and online dispute resolution. Agreement should be reached as soon as possible on the proposals on public procurement, esignature and the recognition of professional qualifications. The Commission’s communication to improve Single Market governance is welcomed. Member States and the Commission will ensure better implementation and enforcement of Single Market rules and the Commission will monitor performance, including through an annual report in the framework of the European Semester. The Commission communication on the implementation of the Services Directive is also welcomed and should be implemented immediately, including through rigorous peer review of national restrictions and swift action to remove unjustified barriers….
So the most important outcome of this latest EU Summit may not have been that it failed to deliver a strategy for growth.
Rather, it could turn out to have been the summit that, on the quiet, laid the ground for another wave of privatisation policies – policies that have already done so much damage.
For the Continent’s 99% it looks then like yet more misery – and happy times for the same old lucky few.