We have to put an end to the Troika and its conditionality, so as to create truly European mechanisms to tackle economic and social imbalances – claims Alejandro Cercas Alonso MEP
On March 13, the European Parliament approved our report on employment and social aspects of the role and operations of the Troika – the European Central Bank, European Commissiona and International Monetary Fund – with regard to eurozone programme countries – Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus – by a broad majority. There were 408 votes in favour, 135 against and 63 abstentions.
It would have been foolish to close this chapter of European history just talking about the impact the programmes have had on markets, on macroeconomic imbalances and public debt while forgetting the impact they have had on citizens and welfare states. Our analysis was based on accurate and scientific data as well as on several studies from the European Parliament, universities and research centres from the concerned countries. We have also been in contact with the Iinternational Labour Organisation and the Council of Europe to see to what extent social and employment obligations have been affected.
All that data shows without shadow of a doubt that austerity policies and the structural reforms imposed in the Troika countries have infringed the European Social and Employment Legal obligations set out in the European Union treaties, in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and in the international obligations of the EU. Furthermore, the Troika has reacted against the existence of this legislation surely because it believes that resolving macroeconomic imbalances is an end, which justifies the means. And that there should be no limit for the logic of economy.
Those measures have also led to a real social tsunami. Unemployment has tripled in some countries and it is severely affecting young people as well as other vulnerable groups in the labour market including women, migrants and long-term unemployed. There is a lack of credit resulting in the closure of hundreds of thousands of companies, mainly small and medium-sized enterprises and a sharp rise in poverty and social exclusion. This is already impacting the middle classes. We are also seeing new trends such as energy poverty. In addition there is an evident worsening in the standards of fundamental public services, such as healthcare and education. Furthermore, social dialogue has been destroyed and the already existing collective agreements have been ignored. All those measures have been implemented in violation of the European Primary Law and international labour conventions such as ILO core conventions and the European Social Charter.
If we do not act to change this, this social bankruptcy of southern countries will increase and Europe will become unsustainable. One doesn´t have to be a prophet to know that this is an extremely serious social crisis created by austerity measures. It will be followed by a political crisis with invaluable consequences for all of us. We will end up with a core of prosperous European countries bordered by sinking member states in the South.
We must avoid this social disaster so as to show the injustice that lays in the fact that the innocent are paying the bill for the economic crisis that they did not cause. We must shout out loud that it is the time to repair the damage done by way of social dialogue and other core elements of the European social model.
We have to put an end to the Troika and its conditionality, so as to create truly European mechanisms to tackle this type of unbalance. We must do so in a transparent, fair and socially responsible way – so as to put social and employment goals on an equal footing with economic and financial ones. We want to to help those countries and their citizens, the real victims of this crisis, with sufficient technical and financial means. We can make the European Council and the commission understand that social bankruptcy needs to be tackled with the same energy and means as financial and budgetary bankruptcy.
If the European Parliament has approved this analysis and these recommendations it is because the EP knows that Europe is not only a market but also a social market economy. Europe is not only a system of cooperation between heads of state and government, or between ministers and commissioners, but also a democratic community of values.
This is why we ask for the end of the Troika and the establishment of an employment and social recovery plan. We believe that we need to repair what was destroyed. We need to repair what was lost. We need to set out a growth programme for employment because without employment, there will be neither social justice nor recovery of the macroeconomic and budgetary imbalances. We need to fight to restore Europe, the continent of solidarity, of citizens, of common social values. As the economist Adam Smith once pointed out: “No society can surely be flourishing and happy of which by far the greater part of the numbers are poor and miserable.”
Alejandro Cercas Alonso MEP is the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group coordinator on the Employment and Social Affairs Committee in the European Parliament