As the “great and good” meet in Castleknock Hotel to hear Joan Burton and other right-wing speakers discuss ‘Ireland 40 years on: the benefits, opportunities and challenges of EU membership.’ We reproduce a “A brief history of the European project – never social, never democratic” originally written by Paul Murphy MEP as part of a pamphlet on the Austerity Treaty.
The European social model “has already gone.” This how Mario Draghi, the President of the European Central Bank summed up the reality of what sort of Europe we have. The illusions of a ‘social Europe’ which were promoted by ‘social democrats’ across Europe have been smashed by the reality of the economic crisis and the swift speed with which the political and economic establishment have moved to use the crisis to go even further in a neo-liberal direction. However, some, including critics of the Austerity Treaty, continue to suggest a return to a better, more ‘social Europe’.
This is a false idea. The EU has not been transformed – ‘Social Europe’ has not been replaced by ‘Austerity Europe’. Instead, with the economic crisis, the nature of the EU has simply become much clearer as capitalism and its representatives within Europe have bared their teeth. The Austerity Treaty is simply the latest in a line of Treaties and legislation which shape Europe in the interests of the capitalist classes of Europe rather than working class people.
From the very beginning, the EU and its previous incarnations have not been ‘social’. It has always been a capitalist club, aimed at meeting the needs of the capitalist classes in Europe, enabling them to compete more effectively on the world stage. This is not a process that has been driven from below, with working people playing the role of participants or even beneficiaries. Instead, it is a project that has been driven by the political elites across Europe in the interests of the capitalist classes they represent. It has been driven by the fact that, as Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky observed in 1923, “the capitalist forces of production had outgrown the framework of European national states”, with the capitalist classes seeking broader markets and increased political power.
Initially, the impetus for developing the European Union, starting with the European Coal and Steal Community established in 1951, was primarily geopolitical for the capitalist classes. The French capitalist class, supported by US imperialism, wanted to constrain the redevelopment of German dominance in Europe in the aftermath of World War II.
The key strategy to do this was to lock Germany into a project of development of western Europe. It was also driven by a fear of the strong labour movements across Europe that threatened the very survival of capitalism within Europe. The hope was that integration could deliver economic stability and therefore protect capitalism from the threat of revolution.
As the European project developed, there emerged two key mechanisms by which it would meet the needs of the capitalist classes in Europe:
(i) Establishing a free common market, with free movement of capital and labour within Europe and using this to create downward pressure on wages and workers’ rights and press for increasingly economically liberalised societies;
(ii) Through acting together on the world stage by pooling resources and ceding a certain amount of sovereignty. This aspect has two dimensions – one being an increase in the power of the European capitalist classes to effectively exploit the people and resources in lesser developed countries through negotiating as a bloc, with the results seen in the many Free Trade Agreements signed by the EU. The second, which is a preoccupation running through all the strategic documents of the political elites within Europe over the past decade, is attempting to compete on the world stage with the declining US on the one hand and the rising China on the other hand.
Clashes between capitalist classes in Europe
There has been a tension between these two key aims and clashes between the different capitalist classes. The British capitalist class, with its ‘special relationship’ with US imperialism, has always emphasised the first – trying to build a huge free trade area without much political integration. In contrast, French capitalism has emphasised the political integration and independence of Europe, seeking to become independent of the power of US imperialism. One of the results of this clash was French President de Gaulle’s veto of Britain’s entry into the Common Market in 1963. Britain was later able to enter, but has played the role of a less than enthusiastic participant since.
Between the capitalist classes in Europe, there has always been tension and differences over the nature of the political integration that took place. This is generally referred to as a clash between the ‘federalist’ and ‘intergovernmentalist’ approaches. Germany has generally favoured a move towards a ‘federal’ Europe, with key powers resting with bodies like the European Commission and to a lesser extent the European Parliament, while successive French governments have emphasised the ‘intergovernmental’ nature of the project – seeking to have power rest more with the European Council which has representatives of the different member state governments. These differences reflect the confidence of French capitalism in its ability to negotiate a better deal for itself in inter-state negotiations,
as well as German capitalism’s ambition for further enlargement to the east, where German capitalism would be dominant, which would increasingly necessitate federal institutions.
Successive Treaties have seen increasing steps in the shaping of a neoliberal Europe. This has reflected itself in each Treaty becoming more open than the last in terms of pushing a neo-liberal economic agenda. The Maastricht Treaty with its ‘Convergence Criteria’ and the subsequent Stability & Growth Pact criteria were an attempt to embed neoliberalism and quicken the pace of attacks on the working class across Europe through a reduction in public expenditure. Both Nice and Lisbon took this process further, pushing privatisation and attacks on workers’ rights. They also drove the process of political integration and military integration.
Despite the setting up and knocking down of the strawman of conscription to a European army by the Yes side in Lisbon II, it remains a fact that the political establishments in back up their political power. French President Sarkozy outlined the thinking behind this when he declared: “”Europe cannot be a dwarf in terms
of defence and a giant in economic matters.” Javier Solano, former High Representative of the EU declared upon appointing a head of the European
“The need to bolster Europe’s military capabilities to match our aspirations is more urgent than ever. And so, too, is the need for us to respond better to the challenges facing our defence industries. This Agency can make a huge difference.”
This is a process that has been advanced, although constrained by massive opposition from public opinion, in the different Treaties, with Lisbon allowing the setting up of internal military alliances within the EU.
A social Europe?
Those more ‘social’ elements of European capitalism, namely the significant welfare states and workers’ rights, were achieved in the context of the post-war boom. They were not granted benignly by the political and economic establishments in Europe, instead they were won through struggle and relatively strong labour movements. Even where the transposition of European legislation has on occasion brought about an improvement of conditions for women and workers in Ireland, these are the results of struggles both domestically and across Europe, rather than a gift of the establishment. However, generally speaking, these gains, rather than being
protected by the EU and its forerunners, have been systematically undermined
The parties that are referred to as ‘social democratic’ across Europe, such as the Labour Party in Ireland, the Parti Socialiste in France and the SPD in Germany, have undergone a fundamental transformation in the past 20 years. While previously they were parties with a workers’ base and a pro-capitalist leadership, they have now gone over entirely onto the side of capital. While the leaderships of those parties never stood for genuine socialist transformation, the parties did offer a certain alternative to the capitalist orthodoxy.
In the aftermath of significant industrial defeats for the working class in the 1980s, like the miners’ strike in Britain, and the collapse of Stalinism which ideologically disorientated much of these parties, they shifted significantly to the right. Their connection to their working class base was lost and they are now out and out capitalist parties. Across Europe, parties like the SPD and New Labour have led the drive to neo-liberal policies, undermining the previous gains that they in many instances could claim some credit for. The same is true at the European institutional level, where ‘social democrats’ like Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandelson have just as
faithfully represented big business as their Conservative ‘opponents’.
The process of European integration took place concurrently to the rise of what is known as neo-liberalism. This is a right-wing economic theory propounded by economists like Milton Friedman and politicians like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Essentially, it calls for a much smaller state, demanding privatisation of public assets and reduced welfare provision, together with a monetary policy geared solely towards the control of inflation rather than reduction of unemployment.
This came to be the dominant ideology of capitalism, both in an academic sphere and politically, in the context of the capitalist crisis of the 1970s. David Harvey outlines the reasons for this position in his book, A Brief History of Neo Liberalism. In essence, in the context of declined rates of profit, it expressed the need of the capitalist class to increase the rate of exploitation of the working class, to reduce the share of wealth going to labour and to open up new markets and commodities for capitalism, such as healthcare and education.
Launch of the Euro
The moves towards a common currency, first with the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1979 and then with the launch of the euro in 1999 were another side to the creation of this capitalist club. The establishment of a common currency had both an internal and external purpose from the point of view of the dominant capitalist classes within Europe.
Internally, it would lead to a further integration of the common market, through lowered transaction costs and improved capital allocation. The establishment of the ‘independent’ European Central Bank (independent of any democratic check or control) was a further weapon for neo-liberalism within the EU. The ECB was given an even more limited mandate than the Federal Reserve, with its only aim being to control inflation, with no reference to the need to achieve full employment. With the option of devaluation to regain competitiveness removed, extra pressure was to be applied on workers’ wages and conditions throughout Europe.
Externally, the launch of the euro was an attempt to create a new reserve currency that could compete with the dollar on the world market. This would work to the advantage of the growing financial sector within the EU and would turn Germany into a key international financial centre. The whole process of integration has been riven with contradictions and conflicts between the capitalist classes in Europe. This is essentially because capitalism within Europe remains fundamentally national – with the major corporations rooted in particular nation states, which are generally the ones where they originated and which represent their interests. There has undoubtedly been a process of a ‘Europeanisation’ of capital, with an increasing number of cross-border mergers within Europe and increasing activity of companies based in one European country in another.
This is reflected organisationally in the establishment of powerful big business lobbying organisations on a European plane such as the European Roundtable of Industrialists, which lies behind many of the key ideas behind the six-pack and the Austerity Treaty. However, this process has only gone so far and the majority of the corporations remained tied to a particularnation state.
These contradictions have come sharply to the fore with the economic crisis and have been exacerbated by the existence of monetary union without fiscal and political union and the reality of economic divergence instead of convergence across Europe. The euro crisis has seen not only clashes between the capitalist classes and the working class, but also between the different capitalist classes as the crisis exposes the differences of interest.
Democracy within Europe?
The EU from its very creation has been a profoundly undemocratic project – driven by political and economic elites with little reference back to the peoples of Europe. There is much within the current stage of the project that recalls the phrases of the theorist of neo-liberalism, Friedrich von Hayek, who for a time was extremely positive about the prospect of European integration. He saw the prospect of a federation of Europe diminishing the possibility of ‘interference’ in the economy by states.
As Peter Gowan explained:
“For Hayek, Europe’s problems derived from the rise of popular sovereignty and democratic control over economics. His brilliant insight was to grasp that under international treaty law, the ordinary parliamentary laws and policies of individual states can be trumped. So a treaty about domestic issues can block democratic policy-making – hence the EU treaty-mongering since the mid-1980s. The Hayekian EU should thus be a negative force, blocking the exercise of democratic will on economics at a national level.”68
This rings true about the current EU. Now Commissioner, then Belgian Foreign Minister, Karel De Gucht explained the Lisbon Treaty’s relationship to the EU Constitution which was rejected by the French and Dutch people:
“The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable; the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable [...] The Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear. It is a success.”
This is not simply a question of Treaty changes, but an approach whereby both politics and economics are technocratised. Discussions at an EU level, which have an impact on our daily lives, are shrouded in technocratic language and are extremely difficult for people to follow, nevermind exert pressure over. As with the six-pack and the Austerity Treaty, decision making is shifted further away from the peoples of Europe.
The institutional architecture of Europe is profoundly undemocratic even by the standards of capitalist parliamentary democracy. Its convoluted nature owes something to the different ‘federalist’ and ‘intergovernmentalist’ viewpoints of its key actors. In reality, real power lies with the unelected European Commission and the European Council.
The European Commission is made up of those appointed by different governments across Europe. Its function is to act as the strategic driver for the capitalist classes within Europe. It has the sole right of initiating legislation. The European Council then brings together heads of government and ministers from the various EU states.
The European Parliament is not worthy of the name – lacking the most basic rights of a Parliament – to initiate legislation and to, in any real sense, hold the Executive to account. Perry Anderson accurately summed up its role:
“it functions less like a legislative than a ceremonial apparatus of government, providing a symbolic facade not altogether unlike, say, the monarchy in Britain.”
The purpose of the facade is to create the illusion of democracy, as with the “Citizen’s Initiative” which will allow a million people to gather a petition, which the European Commission will then “carefully consider”! Despite the much heralded increases in power for the European Parliament which were promoted by the supporters of the Lisbon Treaty, the reality is that the functioning of the EU has become even more undemocratic.The European Parliament was even completely by-passed by this treaty.
There is no social-democratic past of the European project. It has always been, as it remains, a project driven by the capitalist powers within Europe. One of the results of the crisis is that the ‘social Europe’ shroud it covered itself in has been ripped off. It is therefore clearer that the capitalist European Union offers no way forward for working class people. An alternative Europe needs to be built.
The following letter was sent today by Paul Murphy MEP to Minister Varadkar, to clarify the facts made on the January 27th episode of The Week in Politics. Below is a link to the program for any who missed it,
Dear Minister Varadkar,
I hope you are well. Yesterday on ‘The Week in Politics’, we disagreed over a number of factual issues to do with the level of the primary deficit and the impact of a repudiation of debt. I would like to detail here the sources for my statements, which I stand over. I intend to publish this letter on my website (www.paulmurphymep.eu) in order to allow people to see the relevant figures.
I asserted that the primary deficit for 2013 was, according to government figures, slightly over €3 billion. This is confirmed by the government’s ‘Medium Term Fiscal Statement’ from November 2012 (http://tinyurl.com/aay5bhl). The table on page 26 puts the General Government Primary Balance for 2013 at -€3,250 million, i.e. a primary deficit of €3.25 billion.
A separate figure is also given on that page of an ‘Exchequer Balance’ which gives a primary deficit in 2013 of €8 billion. Which figure is more accurate? Table 1c of the ‘Ireland – Stability Programme Update’ from December 2009 (http://www.budget.gov.ie/budgets/2010/Documents/Final%20SPU.pdf) answers as follows:
“The General Government Balance (GGB) measures the fiscal performance of all arms of Government, i.e. Central Government, Local Authorities, Health Boards (prior to 2005 – their replacement, the HSE, is part of the Exchequer), Vocational Education Committees and non-commercial State sponsored bodies, as well as funds such as the Social Insurance Fund and the National Pensions Reserve Fund which are managed by government agents. It thus provides an accurate assessment of the fiscal performance of a more complete “government” sector.” (my emphasis) It seems to me to be clear that the figure of the ‘General Government Balance’ is the figure that should be used.
In addition, I asserted that if we refused to pay the €9.1 billion in payments and the bailed-out bank bond payments this year, we would not need to borrow on the international markets and could in fact have public investment in jobs. Regardless of your political position on whether this is a viable strategy or not, I believe this to be self-evidently factually true.
The figures are simple. We are agreed, I presume, on the fact that the state will make payments on its national debt of €9.1 billion this year. In addition, however, what I pointed out yesterday, is that bailed out banks are due to pay €17.4 billion in bond payments in 2013. The details of these bond payments are available here (http://namawinelake.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/when-are-bondholders-in-irish-banks-due-to-be-paid/). The banks have been bailed out with €64 billion of taxpayers’ funds in order to pay these bonds. When the Central Bank stress tested the banks in early 2011, they assumed that these bonds would all be paid (http://www.centralbank.ie/regulation/industry-sectors/credit-institutions/documents/the%20financial%20measures%20programme%20report.pdf). The banks are therefore fully capitalised to pay them.
Instead of these payments being made, with full nationalisation of the banking system, the money could be diverted to public investment and to write down mortgages. If all of the money was diverted into the state, together with a moratorium on payments on the national debt in 2013, there would be a ‘surplus’ of €14.3 billion. (-€3.1bn + €17.4 bn)
They are the figures. We can disagree about whether this debt should be paid or not, but that should be done on the basis of a debate based on the accurate figures.
The Socialist Party’s political position is for an immediate moratorium on the payments of all of these debts with a public debt audit committee into the nature of these debts and with a repudiation of all the debts except those owed to those with proven need, such as pension funds and ordinary workers. Although in advance of a public debt audit it is not possible to definitively say what percentage of debt would be repudiated, we believe that it would be substantial and could for example result in a reduction of the national debt to the pre-crash figure of €47.4 billion.
Many people, faced with the barrage of propaganda that there is no money to pay for public services and austerity is unfortunately necessary, may find these figures surprising. They may be shocking, but they are accurate. They demonstrate that austerity is a political choice in order to make working people pay for the crisis, rather than the bondholders taking the hit.
I look forward to debating these issues further with you.
Paul Murphy MEP
Eurpean Union needs to take measures against the mistreatment of workers and passengers in European airlines.
Paul Murphy MEP spoke today in the European Parliament, questioning the European Commission and calling on them to take action on the restrictive one-bag rule imposed by certain airlines, such as Ryan Air and Easyjet. These companies are also notorious for their anti-worker and anti trade union policies, and hidden charges, making travel a night mare for ordinary people. The only reason for these company policies is the pursuit of profit, greedily exploiting not only their workers, but the customers who are forced to use budget travel because of their own limited economic means.
The one-bag rule restricts passengers’ freedom, in that it forces passengers to pay more from their own pockets on extra baggage, money that they can’t afford to spend in the current crisis. Restrictions are also placed on passengers’ purchases in the airport, further constraining them from saving money in duty free shops. Regulations on laptops push passengers to register another bag, placing additional charges on fare payers. This comes on the back of misleading advertising and websites which hide the charges and are difficult to navigate, combined with poor customer service. Passengers and customers are being led blind down an alley with the hands of these companies in their pockets.
“We know that this is only one of the many Wild West style practices practised to increase bottom lines. Ryanair is at the vanguard of these practices. Misleading advertising, poor customer service, rip-off credit card fees and less than straight websites are all pioneered by this airline … the philosophy of Ryanair is a raw expression of capitalist greed, maximising profits at all costs.”
These policies are not put in place for passenger safety or comfort, they are measures to create and increase profit at the expense of customers. Paul Murphy called on the commission to address these issues and to put measure on airlines operating in Europe, and to introduce policies which will regulate and conform commercial practices in airlines, and set a common upper limit on the size and weight of hand luggage on EU flights.
“Many airlines use this one-bag rule not in the interests of passenger safety or comfort but simply as a means of increasing their bottom line by forcing passengers into paying inflated fees for check baggage.”
Paul Murphy also spoke about the backwards and regressive policies airlines, such as Ryanair, hold against workers and organising trade unions. He exposed another of the Irish government’s lies, pointing to the unfulfilled promises made during the Lisbon Treaty referendum, that trade unions would receive compulsory recognition. Big companies fear the organisation of their workers, for they know full well the power which workers wield, being the only force capable of stopping these firms profits in the event of strikes due to low pay or poor working conditions. Ryanair is to the fore of this, consciously taking action and preventing any type of organising in the workplace, and
“This is also seen in the treatment of workers in this airline. Ryanair operates a dictatorial anti-union regime, with staff sacked for trying to organise a trade union. I ask the Commissioner whether the Irish government will deliver on the promise made during the Lisbon Treaty referendum campaign to introduce compulsory union recognition, or will this just go down as another lie told at the time of a referendum?”
Airlines must no longer be able to exploit their workers and passengers in the interest of profits. The excuse that these measures are for the safety and protection of their customers is a fallacy; they are the blind and greedy chase of profits. These airlines must be placed under measures which will harmonise airline regulation on baggage and hidden charges, as well as full recognition of the trade unions organising the workers within these companies. Furthermore, these companies must be taken into public and democratic ownership, to ensure that rates and charges remain within the grasp of ordinary people, and to guarantee that the strictest safety regulations are adhered to. Travel is becoming more and more a necessity for ordinary working people, and we must break with the system of capitalism, where travel is treated as a commodity which only use is to gain profit, and replace it with a system of public ownership which will provide affordable, safe, and comfortable travel, so that the masses of Europe can enjoy travel, and not have to dread it.
Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy spoke today in the European Parliament, questioning Maire Geoghegan-Quinn about the proposed funding to “Security Research” in Horizon 2020 (amounting to a total of €2 billion), the new EU Framework Research Programme, and detailed how the current funding has been given to two Israeli arms companies complicit in the oppression of the Palestinians. In the course of the exchange, Commissioner Geoghegan Quinn admitted that funding from taxpayers may end up being used for military ends by the major armaments companies. Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn responded by explaining that although the funds are provided to civilian security firms, the European Union has no control over how these funds are used once in the hands of these firms.
“I think it’s important to realise that the areas in which research funding is provided is civilian in nature at all times. That does not mean of course, however, that funding which is given aspects of security may not be used in any other ways, but we don’t have control over that. What we have control over is the fact that we fund the civilian dimension or aspect in this policy area.”
Paul Murphy responded by expanding the question over militarisation, pointing out that this €2 billion is only part of a wider move towards increased armament spending. The Irish presidency of the European Union states that it will work with European External Action Service, EEAS, to improve and develop the European Unions ability to project its geo-political control, as reinforcement of the Common Security and Defence Policy, and furthermore, will work intimately with the European Defense Agency. These two statements by the Irish Presidency completely illegitimates any sense of neutrality which the Irish Government may have been able to claim in the past. Paul Murphy also made it clear that in reality, because the EU has no control over how the funds are used once in the hands of private security firms, it will be used to create more weapons of terror and oppression. Currently, the European Union funds do go to private security firms, funds which often go to building indiscriminate killing weapons and the infamous apartheid wall in Israel.
“This is quite an incredible admission of the truth by the European Commission. That truth is that European taxpayer funding is currently going to fund major armaments companies, including those like Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries which are involved in the construction of Israel’s apartheid wall and supply the drones and warplanes used to terrorise the Palestinian people. Under Horizon 2020, yet more funding will go to these merchants of death.”
“The €2 billion in funding for security in Horizon 2020 is only part of the militarisation agenda being driven by the Commission and Council. The Programme of the Irish Presidency explicitly says that: ‘Ireland will work closely with the EEAS in further developing deployable military capabilities in support of the Common Security and Defence Policy’ and commits to ‘work closely with the European Defence Agency’. This co-ordination of the process of militarisation makes a mockery of any semblance of neutrality.”
The European Union must end its funding for these firms. Taxpayers money is being used to develop even more deadlier weapons such as drones, which are responsible for the deaths of thousands of children the world over. The €2 billion in funding must be taken out of the Horizon 2020 plan, as it will only be used to further divide the people of the Middle East, and any other potential areas of conflict which may emerge. The process of militarisation being carried out by the Irish Presidency and the EU should be put to a stop. This €2 billion must be used to invest in a jobs scheme, bringing employment rather than devastation. The private security firms have to be taken into democratic control, and the industry used not to create weapons, but to benefit the lives of ordinary people, by creating socially important and environmentally friendly innovations. The pursuit of profits for the richest 1% at any cost, in this case the profiteering of war, must be cast aside and replaced with a system that benefits the 99%.
Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy today spoke in the European Parliament on the proposed Youth Guarantee scheme, and responded to comments made by Commissioner Laszlo which absolved the EU institutions of any blame for the youth unemployment crisis:
The Youth Guarantee is a proposal in the European Union to introduce a scheme whereby any young person who has not gone into third level education, or found a job, apprenticeship, or training, four months after leaving school or becoming unemployed would be guaranteed a job or training. But this is nothing more than words. Youth Unemployment is not due to a lack of training or education, it is due to the strike of investment going hand in hand with austerity.
“It is all very well for the Commission to express regret over the crisis of youth unemployment, but have they stopped to ask the question why we have this crisis? It is not because young people are not educated enough, it is not because they don’t have enough experience in work and it is not because they are not flexible enough. It’s because of the austerity policies pursued by the European Commission, by the Council and all the major political groups in this Parliament, together with the Europe-wide strike of investment by big business.”
This is an empty promise, with no attention put to the need for a massive scheme of public investment which will bring employment. This scheme can be used as a push for a Europe wide introduction of programs like JobBridge, which push unemployed people into low payed jobs, often which they are reluctant to do. These programs in reality do not create steady employment, but create a source of cheap labour built on the backs of working people. The Youth Guarantee can create a situation where young people will be pushed reluctantly into low payed jobs. This will displace real jobs, and create a race to the bottom, driving down wages and destroying working conditions.
“Without massive public investment in real jobs schemes, this ‘Youth Guarantee’ scheme will prove to be yet another empty promise to young people. It may be used as a pretext for so-called activation measures, like JobBridge in Ireland or workfare schemes – to turn Europe into a sweat shop of cheap labour provided by young people, displacing real jobs and undermining wages and conditions.”
The commissioner Laszlo came in on response to Paul Murphy and other MEPs questions and statements, commenting that the European Union is not responsible for job creation, and that the governments of the member states are responsible for the employment crisis, and must solve these themselves. Not only is this an admission that the Youth Guarantee will not solve the youth unemployment problem, it is an attempt by Commissioner Laszlo to push the blame of unemployment and austerity away from the European Union, and the European Central Bank, onto the governments of the countries who are being hit worst by the crisis. The Troika is complicit with the governments of these countries in implementing these austerity policies, and are responsible for the continuing unemployment crisis.
“That Commissioner Laszlo can stand in the parliament today and absolve the EU institutions of any responsibility in this crisis is incredible and shows how far the commission is removed from the affects of the austerity policies they are pursuing.”
The European Union is well aware of the power which the youth and workers hold, and fear a mass social movement of young people, like the Indignados in Spain or the Quebec Student Strikes. They understand that this “Lost Generation” is being radicalised by their lack of a future, and could ignite at any time and put their governments under real pressure. The EU is attempting to prevent this from happening by paying lip service to impossible proposals, which if put in place will only serve to create cheap labour and further push the lives of young people into destruction. What is needed is not to create low payed job and internship schemes, but massive public investment, which will bring jobs back and give ordinary working people and youth an opportunity to rebuild their lives. This can only be achieved by taking into democratic control the hoarded wealth across Europe and seizing the largest companies. These can then be used to create millions of jobs in renewable energy, information technology, social infrastructure, and education. Europe needs to be run in the interests of people, not profits.