Statement on the Euro Crisis from ATTAC, the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens.
We stand together for peoples-based solutions. Make finance pay and reclaim democracy.
Several European ATTAC welcome and support the just resistance of the peoples of Greece and of other southern European countries in their refusal to pay for a crisis caused by the capitalist system. We reject the false solutions that EU governments have put forward to deal with the Euro crisis.
In Greece and in other European countries, governments seek to make the vast majority of people pay for the current crisis. The EU Commission, the Member States and the IMF are using the crisis to impose harsh austerity measures, including deep cuts in public employees’ salaries, reduction or freezing of pensions, an end to collective bargaining, drastic cutbacks in public spending and so on. The governments’ strategy is to use these plans to destroy whatever remains of the European Social Model. Inequalities was increasing across Europe, even before the austerity plans. Greece and Portugal had the highest levels of inequalities in the euro zone.
The “‘euro relief programme” adopted by the Members States on 11 May in no way tackles the roots of the euro crisis. It does nothing but postpone problems rather than solving them.
An unfair and inefficient austerity programme for Greece
Financial actors – after being saved by taxpayers’ money and causing unprecedented public deficits- are now attacking states by speculating against the Euro. Beyond any democratic control, they expect the price of their recklessness to be paid by citizens through deep cuts in social budgets. The Greek situation proves once more that radical regulation of financial markets is urgent.
Even before the financial crisis, tax cuts and measures favourable to corporations and the more privileged sectors had worsened public deficits. Furthermore, the obvious defects of the Euro zone with a single currency but no unified economic and fiscal policy led to huge trade imbalances between European countries. The export strategies of Germany and other trade-surplus countries were based on wage and tax dumping.
The radical austerity policies now demanded by the EU are a solution in the interest of the wealthy and the financial actors alone. The vast majority of Greeks are not privileged; their wages and social rights are well below European averages. Greece does not need lower but higher wages; not fewer but more public social policies.
EU governments intend to implement austerity policies everywhere. They have already begun to do so in Portugal and Spain. Their policies can only deepen social inequalities and the present crisis, while making the economic situation in Greece and the rest of the EU even worse.
A ‘‘euro relief programme’ will worsen the situation
The European Commission will have to borrow on the financial markets in order to lend to Greece and other countries in trouble. A 60 billion euro “stabilization fund” will thus initially be raised from banks and hedge funds. An additional 440 billion euros could be guaranteed by the Euro zone governments.
This relief programme solves none of the basic problems intrinsic to the euro for 15 years, now intensified by the financial crisis. It does not organize a coordinated reduction of trade imbalances, particularly the German surplus. It does not provide for a harmonised European tax system nor for a budget that would be the only credible tool for solidarity. It attempts to resolve a debt crisis by piling up more debt, thereby keeping governments dependent on financial markets—the first and only real beneficiaries of the new European loans. It is likely to plunge Europe into a period of unprecedented deflation and stagnation.
European governments are still portraying the speculative crisis as a ‘natural disaster’, which can be only solved by sacrificing hundreds of billions of euros—derived from cutbacks in social expenditure and public services. But speculators are human agents, not volcanoes in eruption. The disasters they create happen because we allow them to happen. Yet European governments actively resist making decisions at the EU level to put a stop to these disasters once and for all.
1. The implementation of a genuine solidarity plan for Greece providing an escape from the crisis without destroying social benefits and increasing inequalities, financed by taxes on those benefiting from the crisis and on financial incomes.
2. The possibility for euro zone countries to borrow from the European Central Bank at the same rates as banks and, more generally, democratic and political control of the ECB so that the Eurozone can adopt a genuinely progressive monetary policy.
3. Overall regulation and control of financial markets through introduction of a tax on all financial transactions, a ban on Credit Default Swaps, reestablishment of controls on capital flows, measures to prevent tax evasion and avoidance in Greece and elsewhere; the outlawing of tax havens in Europe and more generally, the socialization of banks judged ‘too big to fail’.
4. Coordinated reduction of external trade imbalances and a coordinated wage policy, including the introduction of mechanisms to instate minimum wages throughout Europe so as to avoid social dumping.
5. The introduction of common economic and social policies in the Euro area and the EU, including the introduction of a proper European budget as well as upwards tax and social harmonization in order to redefine the euro area and create a space of economic and social solidarity.
6. Non-intervention by the IMF in European affairs and refusal of the austerity policies it imposes on the countries to which it lends.
We call on civil society in the EU to put pressure on their governments to promote these proposals. We must together make sure that any arguments or proposals based on nationalist or racist approaches as well as national selfishness are rejected. We must together promote solutions addressing the root causes and forcing those who have benefited from this system and caused the crisis to pay.
Our proposals are merely necessary emergency measures to deal with the immediate impacts of the crisis and to ensure that the great majority of Greeks and of people in our own countries are not made to pay for a crisis for which they are not responsible. In the longer term, we must work towards an alternative financial system.
Attac Austria, Attac Catalonia, Attac Flanders, Attac France, Attac Germany, Attac Greece, Attac Hungary, Attac Italia, Attac Poland, Attac Portugal, Attac Spain, Attac Wallowia
Attac is an international organization and network in the global justice movement. We resist neoliberal globalization and work towards social, environmental and democratic alternatives in the globalization process. We stand for the regulation of financial markets, closure of tax havens, the introduction of global taxes to finance global public goods, the cancellation of developing countries‘ debt, fair trade rules and limits to free trade and unregulated capital flows.
Attac is active in 40 countries and about 1,000 local groups. Hundreds of member landet, organisations support the Attac network. The Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens was founded in France in 1998.
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