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by Maurice Ulrich

Into the wall

Translated Sunday 28 August 2011, by Richard Bach and reviewed by Henry Crapo

Are strong political powers imposed on the people the way towards a great Europe? No – they represent instead the way of the iron heel.

Do not expect the intervention of UN peacekeepers at the EU summit starting today in Brussels. But the United Nations Annual Report on the social situation in the world, released yesterday, has put its finger where the crisis is hurting the most: "The austerity measures taken by some countries such as Greece and Spain in the face of excessive government debt not only threaten employment in the public sector and social spending, but make the recovery more uncertain and more fragile." The report also calls for stimulus measures to strengthen recovery in production and preserve the economic and social investments.

The opposite has been done. Greece has been drip fed - with great difficulty - by Europe, at the price of laborious discussions, for one reason. It is so that Greece pay its debts, interest rates sky rocketing in reaction to every cough from the rating agencies. What is going on here is not the saving of Greece, but the satisfying of the banks as much as possible, so that the risk of a domino effect in Europe is minimised. But that is using petroleum to put out a fire. The remedies imposed on Greece are killing Greece. Greece can be sold and its stomach cut open, but she will end up poorer and incapable of getting back on the road to growth. The logic is the same for other European countries in difficulty.

Some people, due to ignorance or cynicism, it is not clear which, see advantages in the situation. This is true of Christophe Barbier of L’Express, who claims that many countries have managed to obtain from the crisis "a shot in the arm for their reforms." Long live a crisis that is enabling an increase in the retirement age; the cutting of public services, education and healthcare; continuing uncertainty; wage freezes and wage cuts and so on. For the same writer, what is threatening Europe is not the crisis and it is not the financial markets. No, it is the lack of a Europe - that is, a strong and restrictive Europe that forces Greece, amongst others, to “attone for her sins”, to fix herself "in spite of herself if need be." At the same time, Nicolas Demorand in Libération is calling for a federal Europe. In short, all that is needed is assertive European governance to end the crisis. But is that not what is proposed in the Euro Plus Pact, which was built around the desire to dictate countries’ economic policies in accordance to the expectations – not to say, demands – of the markets? A strong power for policies imposed on the people. Is this the way towards a great Europe? No, it is the way of the iron heel.

Those who advocate leaving the euro are just as dangerous for the people. It would result immediately in a massive devaluation of national currencies, an increase in debt, and thus to brutal austerity policies. Both roads are equally reprehensible, if not condemned, because they lead into a wall. The path of the heart and of reason is a Europe of cooperation, driving, with a new role of lender and central bank, policies of economic, social, environmental development, resolving the glaring inequalities between countries. The heads of state, who are meeting in Brussels, refuse to take this path because they are intransigent. The people must impose it on them.

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