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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les 27 choisissent l’autoritarisme

by Bruno Odent

EU’s 27 Heads to Rule with an Iron Hand

Translated Wednesday 23 June 2010, by Isabelle Métral

Europe yields to authoritarianism. In a meeting in Brussels last Thursday, the heads of State of the EU’s 27 member countries decided to give themselves the means of coercion to compel member States to enforce austerity plans. The idea is that cutting down deficits and public debts in conformity with the ceilings set by the stability pact (respectively 3% and 60% of GDPs) implies that each country must willy-nilly swallow the purge. According to them, outside a general social regression - which some countries have already settled for, and to which the French retirement counter-reform contributes – there is no way to reassure financial markets and to prop up an ailing euro.

Budgets are to be put under the Commission’s reinforced surveillance; a country’s slightest deviation will have to be authorized by its peers (the other member countries) in the name of “good governance”. As to national parliaments, their only prerogative will be to decide marginal choices previously submitted to - and if need be subsequently adjusted by - the authorities in Brussels. The Franco-German pair even want to deprive “lax” countries of their voting rights on the European council. Never mind if democracy is flouted.

All the States ran up huge debts after the 2008 crash to bail out the financial and banking system that had thrived on the speculative bubble for decades on end and was bled dry when the bubble burst. And now the same States, and through them taxpayers and European peoples, are enjoined to foot the inflated bills without being ever allowed to question the validity of the process. The system is running out of steam, it must be saved at all costs: so let the rabble hold their peace. Such would have been the motto in the late years of a monarchy under threat in the 1780s. And never mind the aspiration to transform this young regime, still entirely devoted to the interests of share-holders and the returns of stock-exchange securities.

Democracy has already been trampled in France and in the Netherlands, where the peoples cast “the wrong vote” by saying “no” to the text that was proposed for their suffrage – a text by virtue of which the markets could dictate European constitutional law. It is necessary to prop up these democratic advances against the current new threats and to support the resistance that has been gaining strength since the general strikes in Greece and Portugal, soon to be repeated in Spain, and on June 24 in France, with rallies for the right to retire at sixty. The purge ordered by the EU and IMF’s charlatans may well nip the frail growth in the bud. Far from keeping Europe on the road to recovery, their recipes are sure to push it headlong into a new recession.

As a matter of fact, what the current crisis requires is the very reverse of the authoritarian twist celebrated in Brussels last Thursday, namely an unprecedented extension of democracy. It is wrong to cut down on expenses that are useful for employment, research, education, and the protection of the environment. These should be financed by means of bank loans at very low interest rates, and by scrapping today’s criteria for granting or refusing loans as these are heavily biased in favour of speculative operations.

This would pave the way to a Europe united in solidarity, and to the new civilization that is knocking on the door.

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