The Austerity Treaty – or the so called Fiscal Compact - if implemented, would pose a direct threat to the welfare state across Europe and be a major obstacle to redistributive, progressive and socially just economic policies in the future. It also represents the latest attempt to turn economic policy into a technocratic endeavour outside of democratic control, with unelected bureaucrats in a powerful, decision making role. It will impose even stronger budget austerity than the existing rules, through a permanent regime that will inevitably lead to cuts so deep that it can make the European welfare state history.
There is only one acceptable response: It must be stopped! We pledge full support to the campaign in Ireland in the run-up to the referendum on the 31st of May to say No to the Compact, and will do everything in our power to support the Irish who are facing threats and intimidation from European governments or the EU institutions. At the same time we will continue to support the many growing movements in Europe, including trade unions and new youth movements, who are resisting the crisis policies of the EU and of EU governments.
At the moment, the wrong people are being made to pay a high price for the crisis--particularly in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Latvia, Italy and Spain. It is ordinary people, the young, pensioners and workers that suffer the consequences of the excesses of the financial sector and of an unjust monetary system, and of governments with the interests of corporations at heart.
The treaty and the policy it represents will lead to more inequality, more poverty and disenfranchisement throughout Europe and globally. The economic dogma of ever-tighter budgetary rules is both absurd and highly unjust. There are clear signs that the Austerity Treaty and related economic policies, will not bring recovery by creating employment, but could lead to an even deeper economic crisis. Unless progressive forces all over Europe are able to spearhead effective resistance, this inequality and marginalisation could fuel xenophobia and the extreme right.
Far from presenting us with a solution to the crisis, the new EU rules on economic policy show clear signs of a neoliberal regime change – a civic coup. Since the very beginning of the Eurocrisis in Spring 2010, an avalanche of EU laws have imposed further right- wing neoliberal policies which include new attacks on public services, on social expenditure and on wages. All these have been implemented through technocratic and closed procedures which shut out public outcry.
The justification of these drastic reforms is the claim that at the root of the crisis we find lax spending on welfare of governments, and generous labour laws that allow for 'unproductive' economies lagging behind in ‘competitiveness’. This message constantly repeated by the Commission and national governments is a fabrication. This is a systemic crisis set off by a self-serving and unregulated financial sector, a monetary union producing structural imbalances, and reverse redistribution of wealth.
For several years now, the Commission and some governments have been pushing for stronger enforcement of policies tailored to the needs of big corporations, including financial corporations, that neglect the needs of the majority. The crisis has provided them with an opportunity. The ongoing neoliberal offensive under the guise of ‘debt crisis response’ is the ultimate example of the shock doctrine put in practice - an attempt to destroy all social and democratic progress achieved in the last 50 or more years, and the fulfilment of the dreams of corporate lobbies.
In view of this, there is a need for a strong and coordinated European effort to decisively end the attack on welfare and democracy and to make alternatives a reality.