These are critical moments for Europe. It is clear that the Economic and Monetary Union has irrevocably failed, the economies of the periphery of Europe remain in severe crisis, and the economies of the core lack any impetus. The single currency has become a tool for Germany to implement mercantilism through wage dumping and – with the support of other core economies of the EMU – to dictate “structural reforms”, which create economic stagnation, poverty and unemployment. The big corporations and promoters of neoliberalism are taking advantage of the crisis to intensify their offensive against the social and democratic conquests of the twentieth century.
The capitulation of Syriza in Greece has shown that both the EU and the EMU are major obstacles to any attempt to modify the dominant neoliberal agenda in Europe. Austerity, neoliberalism and free trade policies, together with the contempt of European Institutions for basic rights and democracy have led to an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy for the EU.
Consider the results of the three last referendums linked to European issues. In Greece, on 5 July 2015, a large majority decided to reject the conditions attached to the third bailout proposed by the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.
When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.
As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).
The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
http://imf.org and the European Central Bank Central Bank The establishment which in a given State is in charge of issuing bank notes and controlling the volume of currency and credit. In France, it is the Banque de France which assumes this role under the auspices of the European Central Bank (see ECB) while in the UK it is the Bank of England.
ECB : http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/Pages/home.aspx . In the UK, on 23 June 2016, a majority opted to leave the European Union, and demanded that the process of European integration should reversed. In Italy, on 4 December 2016, a large majority rejected the pro-market and anti-democratic constitutional reforms, despite the declared and unanimous support by European institutions, forcing the pro-EU prime minister Matteo Renzi to resign. The rejection of European institutions has never been clearer among member states of the EU.
Anger and indignation are steadily building up among working people in Europe. Unfortunately the beneficiary until now has been growing xenophobia, the hard Right, and even fascism. The European Left is paying dearly for its misguided adhesion to the EMU, and for the taboo of avoiding rupture with the governing framework of the EU, including the neoliberal mode of integration of member states. If the future of Europe is not to be dominated by neoliberalism and the hard Right the answer must be to break free, at the local, national and international level, from the iron cage of the policies and treaties imposed by the European institutions.
What should be done by the Left?
Based on the proposals discussed during the second international conference of EReNSEP, and after the last summit for a Plan B in Europe, we suggest that there are three main objectives for the Left to pursue in Europe now:
The clouds are gathering over Europe. There is still time for the Left to shape the direction of events provided that it regains its political courage. The Left must renew and sharpen its proposals on economy, society and politics. It must remember that its strength derives from the defence of democracy, popular sovereignty, the interests of workers and the oppressed. And it must prepare for a radical break with the neoliberal straitjacket imposed by the EU Treaties and the EMU.
The second Ιnternational Conference of EReNSEP, “France and Europe after Brexit”, was held in Paris on 2 and 3 december 2016 (see here).
See the “Statement for a Standing Plan B in Europe” after the third International Summit for a Plan B in Europe on 19 and 20 november 2016 in Copenhagen here. The next Plan B Summit will be held in Rome on 11 and 12 march 2017.
Josep Maria Antentas (Professor of sociology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain)
Jeanne Chevalier (Parti de gauche, Spokesperson for economy, France)
Eric Coquerel (Parti de Gauche, Co-chair, France)
Alexis Cukier (Ensemble!, National board, France)
Fabio De Masi (MEP, Die Linke, Germany)
Sergi Cutillas (Economist researcher at Ekona Research Center, member of the Platform for a Citizen Audit of the Debt, Spain)
Cédric Durand (Senior Lecturer in economics, University Paris XIII, France)
Guillaume Etiévant (Parti de gauche, former Spokerperson for economy, France)
Stefano Fassina (MP and former Italian deputy minister finance, Sinistra Italiana, Italy)
Heiner Flassbeck (Honorary Professor of economics and political sciences at the University of Hamburg, Germany)
Constantinos Gavrielides (Regional councillor and member of the Economic Committee of the Region of Western Greece)
Marlène Grangé (Ensemble!, France)
Sabina Issehnane (Senior Lecturer in economics, University of Rennes 2, France)
Costas Lapavitsas (Professor of Economics at the University of London and former Syriza MP, Greece)
Moreno Pasquinelli (Programma 101, Italy)
Jean-François Pellissier (Ensemble!, Spokesperson, France)
Laura Raim (Independant Journalist, France)
Patrick Saurin (Sud BPCE, Spokesperson, CADTM, France)
Eric Toussaint (CADTM International, Spokesperson, Belgium)
Aurélie Trouvé (Senior Lecturer in economics, Agrosup Dijon, France)
Miguel Urbán (MEP, Podemos, Spain)
Christophe Ventura (Researcher in international relations, member of Chapitre 2, France)
Frédéric Viale (Doctor of Law, member of Chapitre 2, France)
Sébastien Villemot (Economist at OFCE, France)
Grigoris Zarotiadis (Associate Professor in the School of Economics and Political Sciences in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)