Ten years after the introduction of the Euro, of which it was said that it would unite Europe, the European Union is more divided than ever both socially and economically.
In one part of Europe, in countries like Germany and Austria in particular, the common currency of the Euro has made possible relatively high growth and employment rates; seen in the cold light of the day, however, this is true only because other countries have run up debts to import their goods. So we have the growth of some won through the indebtedness of the others. This is an ingenious concept for a Ponzi scheme but not for a process of integration. The antagonisms pulling Europe apart today are not national in nature but have their effects inside the nation-states. The wealth is equally unfairly distributed in some countries as are the consequences of the drastic austerity programmes in others.
Thus the Euro has widened the inequalities existing between the privileged and the underprivileged regions, between poor and rich as well as between capital and labour.
Sixteen EU-summits last year have not led out of the crisis but merely further into it. According to all criteria, the concept of neo-liberal, capitalist integration has failed. The damage done hits hard millions of people, regardless of the country in which they live, the language which they speak, the gender they have, the religious community they belong to or if they belong to one at all.
Signs of alarm are increasing in number. The so-called expert governments in Italy and Greece who are to implement the unsocial austerity programmes, the tightening of the “stability pact” and the presentation of a new EU-Treaty by the duo of Merkel / Sarkozy to be ratified next year are pointing in a dangerous direction. They show that the crisis does not only put at risk the living standard of millions of Europeans but also threatens to devour democracy.
Fighting the exorbitance can only succeed if we fight together. It is necessary to set clear limits to the 25 major European banks which control the “financial market” and keep the states and the EU in hostage, and to give back the wealth to the people who create it every day. To achieve this, real democracy is needed on all levels, the local, the national and the European.
Paradoxically, the politics required to achieve this end have been discussed for months. They are being discussed in public by experts; they are adopted by social movements; they can be found in the programmes of trade unions and left parties. They aim at putting an end to recapitalization of indebted states being a profitable business for major private banks. The debts which have been run up due to excessive interests must be cut at the expense of the banks. The monetary and financial systems must be put under democratic control. The major banks, which in 2008 and 2009 were saved with taxpayers’ money so that now they can plunder the states, must be transferred into common property. Municipalities, provinces and states do not need the financial markets for their financing. The national banks and, in particular, the European Central Bank – which in theory belong to all of us – must provide cheap loans for necessary investments to be carried out by the state.
With a few exceptions, Europe is today being ruled by the Right. Acting against the impositions of the financial markets requires a change of the social and political balance of power, both in the states and in the EU.