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Scarcely a week after the European Council turned its back on the democratic will of Europe’s citizens, we have been greeted by another ominous move that at once confirms our fears about the authoritarian direction the EU has adopted, while strengthening our resolve not to allow it to destroy the European project.
A document leaked by the French newspaper Libération has revealed that Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has attempted to appease the most conservative of German politicians by offering draconian Eurozone reforms. These, in summary, would amount to the entire single-currency area being subjected to the same model that Greece has been labouring under since its first memorandum with the Troika. This confirms our warnings that Greece has been used as an ‘austerity laboratory’ to test and generate methods to be exported to the rest of the Eurozone. Juncker’s proposal includes:
- Rejecting Macron’s “eurozone budget” and opting instead for a “budget line” which, being part of the EU budget, would be dependent on an agreement by all 27 members, 8 of which do not have the Euro and would not be keen to share their money with those who do. This budget would not be permanent either, but would take the form of aid, shared in the event of a serious economic crisis, and only in return for structural reforms (essentially austerity measures)
- The “balanced budget” is made a fundamental principle of European law, limiting the “structural deficit” of Member States’ budgets at 0.5% of their GDP. This would make a reality the “Troika in Paris” scenario, Wolfgang Schäuble’s long-term plan and the reason why Greece was transformed into a neoliberal experiment
- The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) would be transformed into a European Monetary Fund (EMF), with the ability not only to impose austerity programs, but also to restructure (cancel, extend repayment periods, lower interest rates) public debts. Its operation would remain governed by the rule of unanimity of the States that compose it
- The European parliament would be granted a consultative role in the nomination of the head of the EMF and could interrogate her or him behind closed doors, but would have no power over whether the above proposals are implemented. Power will remain, as always, with national governments
The European Commission is driving us further and further away from a united Europe of solidarity and prosperity, and closer to a dystopian alternative of economic asphyxiation, driven by an economic dogma that is proven not only to be ineffective, but highly destructive to both economies and societies.
With the chances of a CDU-FDP coalition looking increasingly unlikely, perhaps the above proposal will never be officially tabled. However, these leaked documents act as a stark reminder of the power balance in Europe and the lengths to which the Commission President seems willing to go to appease his Conservative political family. The lack of democratic accountability over such machinations should worry us all.
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