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Taking on Euro-austerity.

from Len Arthur

The threat to the working class and democracy in the EU is now so severe that we should be moving toward an active united front with all on the left in Europe who are prepared to argue and act against these trends. The basis is ‘we will not pay for their crisis’.

Given the current situation, the statement below from the European Left seems like something to work with. Alongside organising to follow-up on the 30th November actions in the UK, workers across the EU should have the opportunity to say ‘No!’ to the austerity agreement being planned – and currently being implemented, in an even worse version, by the Tories in the UK.

One aspect could be an e-petition – it would be excellent if the ETUC could organise one but, if not, we could start by distributing a possible wording around all our EU contacts and then launch it perhaps through Avaaz? Then secondly we could perhaps try to coordinate an EU day of action as well as publicise widely action that is taking place, such as the strike in Italy this week.

I know this sounds huge but so is the threat and I’m sure that there are millions across the EU that want to join together and not allow their neo-liberal governments to determine the agenda.

Here is the European Left declaration

Declaration of the EL Council of Chairpersons: “Less “Merkozy”, more social and democratic Europe!”

Resolution of the Council of chairpersons of the Party of the European Left (EL) on tackling the European Economic and Financial Crisis

The European summit of the 8-9 December 2011 marks a very dangerous turning point for the future of Europe. Entering into an agreement on the protection of the European Central Bank independence and the stability pact, imposing budgetary discipline to European countries by automatic penalties, inclusion of the “golden rule” in fundamental laws and creation of a “right of interference” for European institutions in national budgets, heads of states and European leaders are overturning peoples in a chaotic Europe.

The actual European architecture has led to a crisis, but tomorrow’s Europe will be more submitted to markets and will be more harmful for the peoples. They have signed austerity for life and deprived peoples of their budgetary sovereignty. Thus, they have signed the death-warrant of growth, social progress, democracy. It even threatens the existence of the Union. What will happen when powerful countries will dictate to others the reforms they have to organise? We are going to an increase of intra-european tensions, with all nationalist and chauvinist reactions that they could create. European history has already proved that this situation can lead to crisis of civilization.

Gathered for an extraordinary meeting, the European Left member parties’ chairpersons declare solemnly that an exit from the crisis is possible if a breaking-off is made with neoliberal policies – defended by right-wing forces and accepted by social-democrats –  and if people do not choose the populist xenophobic appeals.

Another voice exists, the voice of the EL, trade-unions, associations, social movements, of all forces trying to find solutions for an exit of the crisis which is not austerity, endless rescue and survival of banks, financial markets and big capital owners, but the defence of democracy, social rights, social and ecological development and the welfare state in Europe. Our anti-crisis formula is: less Merkozy doctrine, more social and democratic Europe!

It is urgent to open an alternative to overcome the crisis together. The proposals we want to debate are:

I. The detachment of public finance from the finance markets.We want the European Central Bank to be democratically controlled and to take an active role in fighting speculation with government bonds, the foundation of a European public fund or bank for social, ecological and solidarity development. A common resolution has already been discussed at the Assemblée nationale in France and at the Bundestag in Germany thanks to the Front de Gauche and Die Linke MPs.

II. Reorganization of the banking sector and decrease of the financial markets powers: We want the private banking sector to fall under public responsibility and control. Speculative financial transactions have to be contained by direct or indirect means. We want the creation of a publicly-owned pole of credit that is a key instrument to finance jobs, public services and an ecological transition.

III. Solutions to public debts problems: Why should peoples pay for the banks and finance crisis? We want austerity policies to be stopped immediately. We stand for the adoption throughout Europe of national regulations which rule out both the curtailment of wages, pensions, and social welfare and replace those policies by mass tax increases for big capital owners and millionaires. Because all European countries are threatened, the EL proposes the organization of a European Conference on the Debt, that could discuss the direct redemption of debts by the ECB for threatened countries, the abolition of a large part of public debts related to the results of a public audits. We recommend special protective predictions for social security funds and the radical decrease of military expenditures which is also a precondition for peace and solidarity, the abolition of rating agencies and a big plan of public investments.

IV. Making social Europe: We want Europe to become a protective for its people. For this, minimum standards that ensure a decent life have to be introduced for working hours, wages, pensions, social security, and income taxation.

V. Turning Europe into a union of balance: the central adjusting screw for this is the dismantling of economic imbalances reflected by gaps or surpluses in trade balances. A European coordination of economic, wage and finance policies aimed at eliminating unemployment and creating even trade balances in the medium term is necessary. It involves a development of industry in all countries. The European budget must be uppermost directed to cover such imbalances.

VI. No to EU authoritarianism – Real democracy in Europe: The EL continues its fight for the establishment and the protection of democracy, accountability, transparency and citizens participation. We are firmly opposed to any unilateral restriction of the powers of national parliaments attaining legitimacy through European agreements. We therefore advocate the strengthening of the powers of the European Parliament. Moreover, we demand any kind of fundamental change to the legal bases (treaties) of the European Union to be subject to legitimization by referendum everywhere where the laws allow it.

After the positive results of the Danish and the Spanish Left, it now time for the European Left forces to intensify their work in the movements of resistance. In this framework, the EL Council of Chairpersons proposes all EL member and observer parties to intensify their efforts for the strengthening of communication, common action and solidarity among leftists and among the working classes of our countries. The EL will take initiatives to establish dialogue between all political, trade unions and democratic forces in Europe which are looking for solution to exit the crisis. The demand for another Europe, social and democratic must become a common slogan chanted in all languages spoken in our continent.

Council of Chairpersons of the Party of the European Left

Brussels, 12 December 2011

Len Arthur is a Labour Party Member, Political Education Officer for his Constituency Party, and a former Trade Union Activist and Lecturer.

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