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European Council of Foreign Relations, Madrid: Time to say basta to the nonsense of austerity (José I. Torreblanca in the Financial Times)
Something must be wrong in the EU when a pro-Europe, pro-austerity conservative government is ignored by Berlin or, worse, humiliated by France. Something must be wrong too when the International Monetary Fund endorses your programme of reforms and asks whether you really need such tough fiscal consolidation at a time of recession - yet nobody in Brussels, Berlin or Frankfurt cares to listen. Equally worrying is that the European Commission happily endorses Spain's severe cuts in education and research spending, deliberately ignoring the fact that these are incompatible with both the sustainable growth model it has been advocating for a decade and Spain's urgent need to move away from an economic model based on real estate.


Who governs? In the EU as we teach it to our students, the commission speaks for the general interest and has the right of initiative, while member states and citizens have their say through the European Council and parliament. But in today's Europe, EU institutions have been hollowed out as real power flows back and forth from Berlin to the corridors of the ECB, where the real battles about the crisis are fought in opacity.

The fiscal compact, the most unbalanced and asymmetric treaty member states have ever signed, is the best illustration of the new Europe: while austerity is strictly enforced, growth is barely promised. In the good old EU, member states were equal and treaties represented a compromise between competing visions of Europe. Now, Europe is about asymmetries in power and fear for the future. Europe now resembles Thomas Hobbes' description of man's life in its natural state: "poor, nasty, brutish and short." Two years on, not a single growth measure has been adopted. Time to say: basta!

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2012 at 04:24:41 AM EST
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