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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Éditorial : l’Europe solidaire reste à construire

by Jean-Paul Piérot

Editorial: A Europe of Solidarity is yet to be built

Translated Thursday 30 June 2011, by Richard Pond and reviewed by Henry Crapo

It is not certain that Syntagma Square or the Port of Piraeus subscribe to the view put forward by Martine Aubry on the appointment of Christine Lagarde as head of the IMF. No, it’s not "good news", contrary to what this seeker of the Socialist presidential candidacy declared yesterday morning on France Inter radio - neither for Europe nor, obviously, for the world.

To be sure, EU and IMF leaders have begun to implement the prescription for bleeding the Greek people, a prescription bearing Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s signature. But it would be vain to hope that Lagarde, who is Nicolas Sarkozy’s minister for finance and the economy, could "abandon her [neo]liberal habits in favour of regulation". As soon as she was appointed (without a vote) as director of the IMF, Lagarde - who in France is linked to the bouclier fiscal ("tax shield") which has proven an effective means of social protection for the richest at the same time as torpedoing the public finances - lost no time in urging Greek MPs to approve a plan for ultra-austerity and social regression.

This plan is so unbearable for the population that the conservative New Democracy party and several PASOK (Socialist) MPs had announced that they could not accept it against citizens’ wishes. The Greek Parliament or Vouli has been subjected to some shameful blackmail: the EU and IMF are making the transfer of 12 billion euros (within the context of a 110 billion euro loan) conditional on a vote that will make the Greek people still more impoverished and depress the country’s economic development for a long time indeed. That Greek MPs act under IMF pressure is obvious, but it remains no less clear that the population rejects the plan in all its aspects, its social cost as well as the auctioning of the whole country. The biggest strike since the end of the Colonels’ dictatorship in 1979 shows that the government would have a considerable advantage if it led a battle against the diktats: the Greek people’s active support. But for this to happen, the prime minister George Papandreou would need to listen to his fellow citizens and raise a politically courageous voice in the European arena.

Aminata Traoré, the great advocate of the peoples of Africa, has described the structural adjustment plans which cruelly mortgaged the future of that continent’s
countries. The IMF has failed in its mission as defined by the Bretton Woods agreement after the Second World War. The question today is not about the IMF as it is and as it will remain, nor the absence of economic regulation, but what kind of IMF can help populations and not surrender their countries to the rule of markets and the laws of "free and unfettered competition". Freed from neoliberal dogma, the European Union would have the means to avoid Greek bankruptcy by granting it long-term loans at low rates of interest via funding supplied by the European Central Bank. This Europe of solidarity still remains to be built.

Today (Wednesday 29th): The five-year austerity plan presented by the Greek government has been approved by 155 votes (out of 300), so it seems that the programme will be definitively adopted on Thursday. On the streets there’s dismay... (More, in French: http://www.humanite.fr/29_06_2011-le-parlement-grec-vote-une-nouvelle-cure-d%E2%80%99aust%C3%A9rit%C3%A9-475357 )

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