Public Debt and Austerity Policies in Europe. The Response of the European Left

Report of an International Conference in Athens, 10-12 March 2011

Facing the coordinated efforts of the ruling political and social powers in the EU to enforce an exit from the crisis based on the smashing of the dominated classes in all member countries, the forces of the political and social European Left have to supplement their national resistances and programmatic proposals with a coordination on a European level. The Conference entitled “Public Debt and Austerity Policies in Europe. The Response of the European Left”, organized by transform! europe, Nicos Poulantzas Institute and the Party of the European Left – Synaspismos, aimed at assisting exactly this effort. The slogan of the Conference was “United we fight. United we win”.
According to the claims of the European conservative and social democratic governments, as well as EU and international institutions, a ghost is haunting Europe, the ghost of public debt. One should not, of course, expect that these entities realize that debt is only the manifestation of the systemic capitalist crisis, but the mere fact that the PIGS stopped being the only danger for the euro-zone is an interesting development. The result of this is that the harsh austerity measures imposed on Greece and Ireland to confront the ghost and calm the rating agencies and the markets are now extended to the entire EU, through the imposition of the so called “Competitiveness Pact”, recently renamed to “Pact for the Euro”.
The conference was attended by hundreds of people, from 10.00 in the morning to 10.30 in the evening and it was transmitted live on various websites, among them the sites of transform! europe and of the European Left. The opening event attracted around 800 people, while the closing event was a full house, attended by more than 1,000 people. Participants in this last event were Francis Wurtz, former President of GUE/NGL (he presented the EL-Initiative for a European Development and Solidarity Fund), Pierre Laurent, the National Secretary of PCF and President of the EL, Oskar Lafontaine, the former Co-President of Die LINKE and Alexis Tsipras, President of Synaspismos and Vice-President of the EL. In his speech, Tsipras suggested that the EL should demand a referendum in all European countries for the new Pact for the Euro.
The Conference, which took place in Athens on 10-12 March 2011, was a really successful mega-event. For two days and three evenings (over 25 hours), 60 participants from 12 EU-countries and Ecuador examined various issues related to the debt crisis: causes, EU and governments’ policies, resistances (mainly in the PIGS) and radical proposals for a European exit from the crisis. Participants included academics, economists, sociologists, experts on debt, trade-unionists, MPs, MEPs, leaders and cadres of Radical Left, Communist, Left Socialist and Green political parties. In two special sessions on Facets of the Greek Crisis, about ten Greek speakers from various Greek parties, parties’ tendencies and political groups had the opportunity to present their different views.


Thursday, 10 March 2011

Opening of the conference

Coordinator: Rena Dourou, member of the Secretariat of Synaspismos

Dimitris Vitsas, Secretary of the Central Committee of Synaspismos

Nikos Petralias, President of the Nicos Poulantzas Institut

Public event

Yannis Dragasakis, economist, former-MP of SYRIZA

Francois Delapierre, General Secretary of Parti de Gauche-France

Pedro Paez, economist, Banco del Sur, former Minister of Ecuador

Jose Luis Centella, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain

Michael Schlecht, MP, Chief economist of the Parliamentarian Group of DIE LINKE in the German “Bundestag”

Friday, 11 March 2011

Consequences of the Crisis in Europe

Michel Vakaloulis, sociologist, Professor at University Paris VIII, France

Maria Karamessini, economist, Associate Professor at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, DYNAMO-European Research Group

Birgit Mahnkopf, Professor of European Politics at the Berlin School of Economics and Law

Causes of the Debt Crisis in the Euro-Zone

Brigitte Unger, economist, Professor at Utrecht University School of Economics (USE)

George Stathakis, economist, Professor at the University of Crete

Dimitris Sotiropoulos, economist, University of Aegean

The EU-Policies of Crisis Management

Coordinator: Elena Papadopoulou, researcher, NPI

Nicos Houndis, MEP, SYRIZA Greece, GUE-NGL

Stephen Gill, Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science, York University, Toronto

Thodoros Paraskevopoulos, economist, collaborator of the Parliamentary Group of SYRIZA

Facets of the Crisis in Greece (1)

Coordinator: Sissy Velissariou, Professor at Athens University, Vice President of NPI

Panagiotis Lafazanis, MP, SYRIZA

Alexis Mitropoulos, Associate professor at the University of Athens, Regional councilor of Attica  

Yannis Mpanias, member of the secretariat of AKOA, ex-MP of SYRIZA

Dimitris Papahristos, independent MP

Facets of the Crisis in Greece (2)

Nikos Kotzias, political scientist, Professor at the University of Piraeus

George Maniatis, Professor of Mass Media, University of Athens

John Milios, Professor at the National Technical University, responsible of Economic Policy at the Secretariat of Synaspismos

Dimitris Papadimoulis, MP of SYRIZA, former MEP

Sofia Sakorafa, independent MP

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Resistances by the European Trade Unions and Movements

Coordinator: Yannis Mpournous, member of the EL Executive Committee

Nassos Iliopoulos, Secretary of the Youth of Synaspismos

Alekos Kalivis, trade-unionist, ex-Alternate President of GSEE

Dominique Gianotti, trade-unionist, FSU-France

Italian trade-unionist

Irish trade-unionist

Debt Crisis and Austerity Policies in the European Continent

Coordinator: Natassa Theodorakopoulou, member of the EL Executive Committee

Mary Lou McDonald, Vice-President of Sinn Fein, Ireland (tbc)

Tamás Morva, economist, member of the Secretariat of the Hungarian Workers Party 2006

Marianna Mortagua, economist, Bloco de Esquerda, Portugal

Javier Navasquez, University of Seville, Secretary of the Committee of Financial Affairs of PCE

For a Progressive Exit from the Crisis (1)

Coordinator: Gabriel Sakellaridis, member of NPI Secretariat

Elisabeth Gauthier, Director of Espaces Marx, member of the Managing Board of transform! europe

Marica Frangakis, economist, EuroMemo Group

Eric Toussaint, President of the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM)

Michalis Tremopoulos, MEP of the Greens, European Green Party

For a Progressive Exit from the Crisis (2)

Coordinator: Ruurik Holm, Legal Representative of transform! europe

Yannis Varoufakis, economist, Professor at the University of Athens

Kostas Vergopoulos, Professor of Political Economy, University Paris VIII

Euclid Tsakalotos, economist, Professor at the University of Athens

Elmar Altvater, political scientist, member of ATTAC Germany

Public Event

Coordinator: Haris Golemis, Director of NPI, member of the transform! europe Board

EL-Initiative for a European Development and Solidarity Fund

Francis Wurtz, ex-President of GUE-NGL, France

Exit Strategies from the Crisis. The Proposals of the European Left

Pierre Laurent, National Secretary PCF, President of the EL

Oskar Lafontaine, ex-Minister of Finance, ex co-President of DIE LINKE, Germany

Alexis Tsipras, President of Synaspismos, Vice President of the EL