Mediterranea in Crisis

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Spain in Crisis

General view of the occupied Puerta del Sol square in Madrid, on May 19, 2011 during a protest against Spain's economic crisis.

Greece in Crisis

Thousands of "Angry Greeks" gathered in Sintagma square in the centre of Athens to protest about unemployment and economic crisis. They also use a banner that reads "We are awake" in spanish to show their support for Spain.

Italy in Crisis

People celebrate, in hope of a better financial future, after Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi left the Quirinale Presidential Palace at the end of a meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, in Rome on Saturday.

Portugal in Crisis

Lisbon protestors show their presence during this period of severe economical difficulty.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How Young People Can Contribute to actual European Crisis?


If we can find victims among all Europe of our actual crisis, young people are definitely one of them. It is urgent to establish Dialogue, Intergenerational dialogue.

Carlos de Sousa Santos
Youth Empowerment Unit Coordinator, Braga 2012: European Youth Capital, Portugal.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Can the post crisis European vision emerge from the south?

Paulina Lampsa
PES Presidency Member

Countries of Southern Europe are experiencing the harshest consequences of the economic crisis, consequences that create a fertile ground for the rise of populism and the extreme right. In this context, progressives are facing a number of important challenges if they want to remain relevant. It is becoming more and more clear that austerity only policies, will not lead to fiscal responsibility but will increase inequality, will suffocate the market and small and medium enterprises, will shrink the middle class and eventually risk to widen black economy and tax evasion. Our societies after the crisis will be very different and citizens will expect very concrete and imaginative strategies to redress social injustice, to reduce unemployment, to create jobs. They will also need a new vision for Europe that goes beyond statistics, Ecofin decisions and gloomy warnings. However, we should not wait the end of the crisis for trying to elaborate a different model leading to a new social pact. A model adapted to each country's different realities. A model that will be able to push necessary reforms that its difficult to implement in times of extreme austerity. What makes us different from the right is not only defined in how we view the economic and social agenda but also by the fact that we had a tradition to put emphasis in a number of other issues like environment, equal opportunities, human rights, fight against any form of discrimination. These issues that are not any more at the forefront of our discussions because of the crisis. But by putting them aside we give more space to extreme right populism. During the last years we were confronted with a european vision clearly not inspired from the founding thinkers of the Union. A vision that is more based in power balances than the common interest. When they called us PIGS we didn't realize the value of solidarity and concerted action. Could we act differently now? Now that we have experienced in practice what a real politik Europe means for each member state? Could a new vision for Europe emerge in the South? Lets start the debate, today in Athens tomorrow in another Southern European city. An interesting discussion on these issues will also take place early February in Lisbon, at the Council of the Socialist International. And lets keep in mind, that European elections are taking place next year. If we don't start thinking on an effective progressive strategy now, just imagine what the next European Parliament could look like! 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The South in Crisis: Time for a Southern progressive response?

Watch the event that took place in Athens on January, 25th and provide comments and further suggestions! #thesouthintalk

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Solidarity and cooperation of the South for a way out of the crisis

by Nikos Chrysogelos 
MEP Greens/ EFA group EP

In Greece, unemployment is currently over 25% while among the young surpasses 55%. Many children have no access to vaccination any more, while the unemployed have to pay for visiting the doctor or their medicine since they are not insured. Over 20% of the citizens have no access to public health services today. 
In Spain, over 500.000 families have lost their home during the last three years, the unemployed are 6.000.000 while public debt doubled from 40% to 80%, despite the measures or because of the austerity measures.
In Portugal, one in six people has lost his/her job and many businesses went bankrupt. 10.000 children face today nourishing problems.
20% of the problems are due to the crisis while 80% are due to wrong austerity policies that lead to recession, decline in GDP, rising unemployment and public debt, rather than consolidating fiscally. Moreover, the dependence of countries in southern Europe on imported oil, the construction bubble and the rescue of banks through public funds, play an important role in all the countries of the South, intensifying the crisis.
Improper governmental practices and structural problems in each country may exacerbate the crisis but they are not solely responsible for the explosion of debt that occurs after the implementation of austerity policies. Restrictive policies and austerity lead to an increase in public debt in all countries where they are implemented, but they will also create problems in countries which until recently have surpluses (Germany, Netherlands etc).
These findings emerged from the workshop "crisis and social implications" organized by the Green MEPs from Greece (Nikos Chrysogelos), Spain (Raul Romeva) and Portugal (Rui Tavares), in November 2012; this was one of the few initiatives until today to find institutions of southern Europe that will discuss together the crisis and, primarily, a way out of it.
As I stressed in relevant questions to the European Commission [1] as well as speaking in the European Parliament, the troika until recently did not dare to admit that the false predictions and models used lead to increasing problems instead of solving them - namely the destructiveness of the project - and discuss a more balanced alternative plan as a way out of the crisis. But now this is an open secret.

Few days ago Paul Thomsen confessed that austerity in Greece was wrong. Yet a new report on behalf of the International Monetary Fund, on 3.1.2013, admit once again that the predictive models used to promote policies that address the fiscal crisis posed significant underestimations in fiscal multipliers.

A report, however, of the European Commission months ago, estimated that any multiplier above 0.5 specifically for Greece, even in healthy fiscal periods, causes an increase in debt. Yet the fiscal multiplier in a recession it is estimated to exceed 1, perhaps reach as high as 1.7. As a result the restrictive policies do not lead to a reduction but to a dramatic increase in debt, making it unsustainable.

Following these incorrect prediction models and taking decisions of brutal fiscal adjustment and austerity, the Greek debt crisis will cost to the European citizens 240 billion by 2016. In Greece they have caused more than double the unemployment, the collapse of the real economy, even of viable businesses and poverty in a significant percentage of the citizens. By 2016 65 billion will be removed from the Greek citizens.

In Greece today we are experiencing a period of "optimism in words", but in practice social collapse. There is no plan for a way out of the crisis, priorities or suggestions for maintaining social cohesion. Political decisions are now exclusively associated with the disbursement of payments and a vague but not measurable hope to restore confidence in the markets and investors.

The Troika and the Commission in particular, fail to consider other solutions that are now proven existed and still exist; they insist on austerity policy. Moreover, the Greek political system is unable to form through a sincere dialogue between all political parties and particularly with the social and professional organizations, a balanced, socially equitable plan to exit the crisis.
A state of stability in the levels of 2011, and no worsening of the recession, could reduce the debt by 21%.
Participants in the workshop came to the conclusion that the formation of a new joint strategy out of the crisis is a matter of survival. This requires cooperation between the social partners and civil society at European level in order to create "from the society" an alternative plan with pillars social cohesion, employment and economic sustainability. There is also the need for a fair fiscal consolidation effort.
In the workshop the initiative "Ulysses" was presented from representatives of institutions and green MEPs of the European South. "Ulysses" is an effort aimed at changing the growth model and economic policy of the EU from the periphery to the center in order to ensure sustainable development and social cohesion.
The "Ulysses" initiative is actually an open communication platform aiming to coordinate social actors across Europe and promote alternative solutions against present’s political impasse; a symbol of rejuvenation of the European idea and integration.
No country, no society alone can cope with the crisis. Solidarity is a precondition for survival, not only for countries in crisis, but also for the very idea of Europe.

[1] Relative proposal as well as my question to the European Commission here 

Thinking European South’s future beyond financial recovery

By Spyros Danellis, Member of the European Parliament 

The dramatic economic crisis we’ve been traversing over the last years has forced us to face the weaknesses of the political system that prevailed after the regime change of 1974. We’ve been sweeping these weaknesses under the carpet for too long; we’ve been consciously mortgaging the future of the generations to come. Reality has burst in our faces in the worst possible way, in Greece as well as in the other countries of the European South. The non-existent real economy (the private sector depending essentially on the state), the predominance of governments formed on the basis of clientelistic networks (the public sector being used as a “voter depository”), the inconceivable inadequacy of the political and administrative staff, the farmers that have been transformed into subsidy gatherers, all these are pieces of the puzzle that has led us in a situation where we were admiring the emperor’s shiny new clothes, while the emperor was nude! Facing the nudeness was a shocking experience with serious side-effects such as the raise of extreme populist forces promising to dress our society with the same old shiny clothes. 
We cannot come up against the sirens of populism unless we struggle for the creation of a new social and political coalition that will progressively put productive work and efficient governance into focus. In the midst of the crisis, we can already get a glimpse of a new Greece: young farmers are renovating the “species” by reorienting their production and commercialization methods, new extrovert commercial forces are placed under the international spotlight, tourism offer is improving and getting modernized, the populist rhetoric is presenting symptoms of fatigue, the extreme corporatist mobilization has been losing its strength. These are signs that a part of Greek society is a step ahead from the political forces and it will increasingly demand changes in order to enforce its interests: the support of real economy, the fight against tax evasion, the restructuring of healthcare services, the creation of a market and economy oriented education system that will serve the graduates’ needs instead of “feeding” the public sector. 
The ensuing question is the following: who is willing and able to respond to these new conditions that demand to embrace the emerging culture of efficiency as well as to steadily fight populism and political inertia? The answer to this question goes far beyond financial recovery and is linked to the support of real economy and employment and to the solidarity towards those severely affected. 
As a member of the European Parliament and the MEP Spinelli Group (, I would like to underline the european dimension of the answers we’re seeking: 
“We oppose the backward and reactionary direction towards a looser instead of a closer Union, towards a more national instead of post-national Europe. Europe has been yet again abducted – by a coalition of national politicians. It is time to bring her back. We believe that this is not the moment for Europe to slow down further integration, but on the contrary to accelerate it. The history of the European Union has proven that more Europe, not less, is the answer to the problems we face. Only with European solutions and a renewed European spirit will we be able to tackle the worldwide challenges”. 
The countries of the European South are not only sharing common problems. The wealth of our social and cultural traditions is an invaluable added value to the struggle to bring Europe back. 

Angelos Athanasopoulos, Political Correspondent, To Vima

The dilemma between austerity and growth is in front of our eyes every single day. What has been done to overcome it? Nothing at all. Why is that? Because the governments and the European institutions prefer the big words instead of concrete actions. Growth should stop being an abstract idea and turn to specific strategies and practices. This can take place only via a "bottom - top approach" and not the other way round. The societies of Southern European countries need to start communicating, identifying common goals and pursue them. Civil society groups, organized on grass roots method instead on the traditional "through political parties" method, can achieve that. It will mostly be a task for the next generation to take the initiative, if she wants to live in a Europe of social cohesion and prosperity and not in a Europe of social discontent and misery.

Taking the reins

João Ribeiro, International Secretary of the Socialist Party (P.S.), Portugal.

As a matter of fact, it is true there is a growing divide between north and south when we consider job creation, economic resilience and revenues distribution. It is also an historic fact that it was always like that. The difference is that the notable dividing line is geographically higher... 
When countries face structural crisis, dangerous divisions grow between them and also within them, making fertile all fear-motivated political proposals, like nationalisms and xenophobia, including social xenophobia. In principle, any "exclusion agenda" is to be fought by progressive forces. As a Portuguese thinker once said, where injustice lays is where socialism must be and no exclusion is progressive. That said, we face a significantly growing generation confrontation. The sense that one generation was successful on building on their own and to themselves a welfare state that is compromising present generations’ access to prosperity needs to be argued, without forgetting actual problems that need to be bluntly faced. I would say that, more than a generation moral confrontation, what we have is a generation of elites’ moral confrontation. The vast majority of the peoples were not aware or informed on the consequences of their political choices and of the democratic dynamics favored by certain agendas. But the economic and political elites should have been aware. 
Also something to be considered is that all generations faced their own challenges. In my country, previous generations faced almost 50 years of fascist dictatorship (that started with a most acclaimed finance minister called to deal with a financial crisis in the 20's, becoming afterwards head of the government - Salazar), massive emigration in the 50's and the 60's to rebuild Europe, a long lasting barely known colonial war, the democratic revolution in the 70's and its challenging and ideological transition, the return of one million people from the colonies, the EU accession in the 80's, the Euro accession in the 90's and now the financial and eurozone crisis. 
Dividing between north and south or between previous and current generations only serves the conservative forces and the divisive ideologies. It fuels a moral approach. All of that helps to hide the reality, to mask the structural forces of the crisis (national and european) and the true responsibilities of the crisis (national and European). 
If there is one thing that can make our generation grand, is to be the voice of unity when facing hardship. To be the voice of solidarity when facing fear. 
Finally, progressive forces need to make their achievements the real base of a new social and economic reality that favors social inclusion and sustainable development. Without kicking out or excluding nobody, but really taking the reins of our destiny. And our main achievement was the current generation! More emancipated, highly trained and qualified, much more European and cosmopolitan - all of this as a direct result of public health care, 
public education and social security. We need the courage to change things, to change the structures (both political and economic), to fight conservative dominations (even those under the appearance of being progressive...) not going back to old failed experiences (as calling, mythical and sexy as they might be), but take a risk on all new solutions. Making space for socially aware and responsible individual autonomy to overcome individualism and conservative collectivism. That is the main challenge, in my opinion, for all progressive forces.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

By Anni Podimata MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament

If the EU is to have a future we need to bring back the citizens to the forefront. With more and of better quality democracy, with more social justice, with the protection of social cohesion and by combating inequalities of any kind, and defending the acquis communautaire at all levels - the social, the environmental and not only the fiscal. 

This means growth friendly consolidation in practice - and not only in words - and adjustment programmes that respect and do not dismantle social rights, that promote the competitive advantages and preserve the environmental acquis. 

Ensuring this balance in every Member State - including those under adjustment programmes - is the only way to regain the trust of the citizens and to guarantee the future of the EU. #thesouthintalk

By Giorgos Melingonis, Journalist, political editor

The spectre of austerity looms over Europe. As time goes by, it becomes common knowledge that the crisis is not a Greek crisis, nor Portuguese or Spanish. The crisis is a European crisis, with global parameters. 
The German insistence on austerity threatens the European social acquis. The welfare state model is now demystified. Interventions which seemed taboo until 4 years ago are now seriously discussed and implemented. What does a country need to do to regain its competitiveness? Should we reduce wages, undermine labor rights? What does a country need to do to address its demographic problem? It’s budget should not be undermined by the increased costs of insurance policy, so pensions need to be cut. 
Despite the dramatic effects of austerity that have brought the countries of the European South in the brink of a humanitarian crisis, neither Berlin nor Frankfurt (ECB) doubt the effectiveness of these policies. On the contrary, they recommend and impose austerity and fiscal consolidation as gospel.

European crisis
Policies of austerity threaten not only the communities of highly indebted countries of the South. The most worrying is that the German protestant doctrine of fiscal consolidation is combined with the process of European integration. Berlin’s message is clear: "either this Europe or no Europe at all". German threats to Greece about being expelled from the Eurozone are indicative.
However, it is a matter of time for European societies to respond negatively to the question "is that Europe the Europe we want?" It's a matter of time before the anti-European tendencies that undermine the difficult, yet smooth, process of European integration over the last 30 years increase their influence. The rise of Nazism in Greece, intense separatism in Spain and the increasing influence of the extreme right in Italy already show the dark path ahead us.

Is TINA dead?
Is this the Europe we want? Definitely not. Since crisis is European and austerity imposed on countries in the South through the consolidation process, the alternatives should also be European. Forces of social democracy and the Left throughout South, but also throughout Europe, should give their own answers. Despite their differences, they should develop their own proposals and persuade European societies that Merkel’s TINA is wrong; there is another way to exit European debt crisis. 
With the exception of SYRIZA in Greece, forces of the Left in other European countries don’t have the influence needed to convince societies that "another European solution is possible." Therefore, the onus falls mainly to the forces of social democracy. To those forces which, throughout their governmental past, they concurred with conservative policies; and because of that past, they currently appear unable to persuade societies they have another solution. Initiatives of European Socialists about Tobin tax, for raising taxes on the rich and creating Eurobonds were a good start two years ago. But now that the crisis has deepened, such proposals are tentative arrangements that cannot lead to a gradual exit from the vicious circle of recession. Social democracy needs to overcome the old, bad governmental past and, through dialogue in the South of Europe, create a new policy agenda, capable of fascinating Europeans. This is why “south in talk” is needed. 

Socialdemocrats owe it to southern societies tested. They owe it to history of social-democracy, in order to remind Europeans that due to progressive forces, European social model became "acquis". Ultimately, progressive forces not only owe the process of creating an alternative to Europe, but to History itself. #thesouthintalk

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The battle for the middle class is a battle for democracy

Philippos Savvides

During the last five years, countries of the “South” have introduced severe austerity measures in order to avoid the collapse of their economies. All of these measures, however, have come with a high social cost. Progressives in Europe warned early on that austerity alone is not the solution. They argued, since 2009, for an immediate and comprehensive response not only to the Greek problem but to the European crisis as a whole. Unfortunately, the European response came too late and it was too little. The conservative majority in Europe proved incompetent in dealing with these major challenges. Its lack of vision and effective response brought the countries in crisis and the European structure to the brink of catastrophe.

It is not a surprise, therefore, that we are now witnessing a major social uncertainty and a real danger of collapse of the middle class, especially in the countries of the South. Political scientists have long demonstrated that the middle class is the back-bone of western democracy. A strong middle class is a prerequisite for strong democracy. Hence, the potential break-up of the middle class will endanger democracy itself. It will undermine the democratization institutions and processes and it will intensify the problem of legitimacy of the political systems.

The potential of middle-class collapse and the legitimacy deficit are problems exacerbated by the high levels of unemployment which lead to losing hope that there is a way out of the labyrinth. This, in turn, intensifies the fear and the disappointment. As the middle-class is falling apart and poverty levels rise, a new “class” is emerging; namely, the class of the “new poor”. This fact must ring the danger bell. If the “new poor” class is left to grow, the social cohesion will be threatened even more and the prospects of social upheaval cannot be ruled out.

This is precisely the environment within which the forces of populism and of right wing extremism grow and thrive. Social discontent, social degradation, disappointment and lack of hope allow populist forces, of all stripes, to “colonize” the political system and undermine democracy.

Evidently, the battle that we are in the midst of is not only about economic stabilization. It is mainly a battle to save the middle class and, hence, to save democracy. Not only in the South, but in Europe as a whole. To that end, progressive forces have a major responsibility to be alert and to take action. At the same time, Europe has to get its act together now. It must provide, today, the necessary long-term solutions that will allow the countries in crisis to recover and reboot. This is a sine qua non in order to secure not only economic recovery, but also a strong democracy.


The need for a common European public opinion

Michael Kyriakidis

Chief editor,  Metarithmisi, e-magazine

The economic crisis has demonstrated that Europe is far beyond its integration. It focused attention on many of its weaknesses. A typical example of those weaknesses is that, at first, crisis was blamed on the “bad Greeks” and later on, after it has spread to the whole European south, on the “lazy southerns” that do not work as much as they should.

Long and precious time was wasted before the leaderships of the EU countries realized that despite individual responsibilities of certain European regions, the problem is deeper and is in need of more radical confrontation and of different kind of strategies.

What is then to blame? People say that there are no more of the great leaders, who in the past decades would have the courage to make important decisions in the appropriate moment. Maybe! In my opinion, the cause is deeper. It depends on the fact that this historically original attempt of the EU, is not yet complete, because even the efficient leaders of the past decades, did not manage to make the necessary steps that are needed. (Do you remember the “No” to the European Constitution?) In the same time, people of Europe stayed out of the game, staring as an audience of the European elite, which often was and still remains bound to “national” policies.

It is about time to create a common European public opinion, which will discuss and form views and policies, away from the “national” logic that does not allow us to observe EU’s problems in depth. It is obvious that the economic crisis is not due to “bad people” of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy… etc., but due to deeper structural problems and especially due to certain policies. It is the result of the neo-liberal policies that have prevailed in Europe and universally. The fact that the European Center-Left has not managed to propose an alternative and realistic plan for “exit” from the crisis, has also played an  important role in the lack of overcoming it so far. A plan of economic policy which will protect the 
weaker and the middle class from any “turbulence” that may happen in the Economy.

It is about time to discuss, seriously and widely, all the European citizens, on common policies. 


Monday, January 21, 2013

Restoring social justice through the tax on financial transactions

By Theodoros TSIKAS 
Political Scientist, 
Communication Team member,
Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement-PASOK, 

It is common knowledge that Greece is going through a deep economic and social crisis. Many people find themselves in a very difficult position due to financial problems. Recession deepens and unemployment rises. At the same time, no investment is taking place due to lack of liquidity. Social benefits have been reduced dramatically, affecting the most vulnerable population groups.

But the crisis doesn’t just involve Greece. Many countries not only in South Europe, but all over Europe, face a new bleak reality. It is undeniable that new tools are needed in order to deal with the new rising issues.

To my belief everyone knows that this tax is not a solution on its own. It is not adequate enough to restore social justice, but it is a positive step in the right direction, one major link in the chain. The taxpayers, the national private and public sectors should not be the only ones to pay for the crisis.

The imposition of a tax on all financial transactions should bring a significant amount of resources which could be used for promoting development, creating jobs and meeting social needs.

The effort to decrease financial instability and shift recourses out of the bloated international financial sector and into the real economy could also be enhanced. The proposal suggested today requires international and transnational cooperation.

Furthermore, the implementation of this tax is also a matter of justice, a matter of rebalancing the democratic decision making process on one hand and the international financial markets and transactions on the other. In other words the aim is to create a new framework of a clear – transparent democratic regulation of the markets, which will pass over the national borders.

To this direction, the international and intergovernmental organizations must play a very important role, by addressing the new inequalities and promoting a new strategy for growth, jobs and a new modern welfare state. #thesouthintalk

Inactive Europe, Leonardo Domenici, MEP, Italy – former Mayor of Florence

The European crisis has its roots in the financial sector, which caused the whole global crisis as well, but some EU member states (via the European Council), together with the European Commission, deepened it and brought it into recession.

This crisis isn't, in fact, only a debt crisis, so the huge cuts and higher taxes imposed by austerity measures are generating unemployment and social unbalances. Of course, some European countries should be more responsible when managing their balances, but focusing on these points only means going straight to recession.

The Commission and other Member States, often forced other countries to apply these austerity measures on theoretical principles detached from reality and without objectives actually coherent with the economic cycle. If we slow down the economy with austerity, the tax income will be lower so it will impossible to meet the objectives.

These policies are hurting the whole EU and the Eurozone members, but the most damaged countries are those in the South of Europe. The German growth model, with low inflation, high exports (even in the eurozone), salary containment (even they are higher than most EU countries) and low interests rates in order to finance the public debt, is not the ideal model for all European countries and should not be exported without keeping in mind the specific economical and social aspects of a country. Doing otherwise means worsening the situation, like it's happening in the European South.

The point is that the Commission and the Council are determined to keep their austerity measures in place, even if the presidents of both institutions, Mr José Manuel Barroso and Mr Herman Van Rompuy, and some commissioners, like Mr Olli Rehn, say that more flexible policies are needed. Sadly, even if sometimes they create expectations, these are just empty words and nothing is really done to stimulate investments, to fight unemployment and social unbalances.

The feeling that the European institutions want to change their policies as little as possible, even when dealing with the financial sector, is something that I experienced personally on my work on the Credit Rating Agencies Regulations (CRAs). CRAs and their ratings are the main source of the political and financial earthquakes for the United States and, especially, for the European Union. Today, three CRAs are influencing the 90% of the entire market, and the Eurozone crisis clearly demonstrated that these agencies have too much power over the financial market, so much that they can even change the political agenda of some EU countries. But the Council was even against some proposals for CRAs regulation made by the Commission, maybe because the CRAs are useful for what they say or what they do: they can be blamed if their ratings are clearly partial and inaccurate, or they can be praised when they give good news. This behavior is a plain example of a weak political will, a lack of a long-term vision on how Europe and the EU should be. Though, to overcome the crisis, we need the European Union, because the single member states are too small if placed in the context of the globalization. We need EU level policies for growth and development.

A more active role of the EU would be easier with an independent budget that could be financed by instruments like the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). This FTT could also be a way to regulate the financial market by discouraging and slowing down high-frequency trading. But, like with the CRAs regulation and the financial sector regulation in general, the EU fails to take concrete action.

We need to be clear, honest and speak the truth to the European citizens: the crisis isn't over yet. We need to relate with the financial actors in the same way though, because, being too positive when we actually still have a long way to go, could make the markets overreact. #thesouthintalk

Friday, January 18, 2013

Do you believe that the fiscal consolidation programs in the European South are working?

The question is how we can become more competitive. The answer is known. We developed superficially on the basis of a real estate bubble, “rents,” “secure jobs,” overblown borrowing, big and non-transparent public contracts and clientalism. The end to this picture is also known. By the end of our “fiscal adjustment” program, if we assume we have covered 2/3 of the road and taken measure for the last 1/3, we will have destroyed the jobs we created within a decade. We will also have restructured “regular jobs” in favor of precarious work. Spending for education, both private and public, will be reduced. Thousands of you people, more so those that are educated, will migrate. If we are not talking about a lost generation, we must address the question of whether social cohesion, that is the money spent to create equal opportunity, constitutes a fiscal burden or an investment. Is inequality “competitive” and, thereby, necessary? #thesouthintalk

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What Europe is not doing for the member-countries of the south - Jannis Meimaroglou

We knew all along that the process of the European unification would be slow and agonizing.
We also knew that it would be an unprecedented course which would go through the contradictions and the difficulties embedded in the endeavor to render the conditions of a number of European countries of different course and development level uniform.
The precondition for the success of such an effort was the need for the European integration to proceed gradually, by steady steps and on all levels- political, financial and social- in parallel.
This necessary rule was overridden many times up today, resulting to new problems all the time leading the overall effort to setbacks.
At times – when the wall fell – the priority was given to political expediency, at times – with the establishment of euro- the priority was given to the monetary union, without undertaking the necessary measures for a joint European economic policy etc.
The result of all the fragmented priorities was to increase, instead of decreasing, the distance between the member countries and to sharpen the contrasts between them.
The big deficits of the southern countries’ economies, a result – apart from their own mismanagement problems – of their negative trade balances, were dealt unilaterally and almost exclusively with measures of fiscal adjustment by the European institutional organs.
As a result, the societies of the South European countries and their connective tissue – which is practically collapsing – have received a multiple and painful blow.
The cuts in the wages of the working and retired in the private and public sectors and moreover the record percentages of unemployment have brought the societies into despair with unforeseen consequences for their future.
The dimension of development, the need for new, productive investments, aiming at the creation of new jobs, financial liquidity in the market and the increase of turnover, have stayed out of the European recipes which were limited to measures and policies of harsh austerity , loyal to the theory “ the fiscal discipline comes first and development follows”.
It was most emphatically proven –even by competent European dignitaries – that this recipe brought the opposite of the desired result.
The European integration is an one-way street for the people of Europe.

Monday, January 14, 2013

This is a platform for public consultation between your elected representatives and your fellow citizens across the European South.