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Press release
Angry citizens egg José Manuel Barroso in Liège for his championing of harmful austerity policies
by CADTM Belgique
18 October 2013

On 17 October 2013 at the Theatre de Liège during the “Citizen Dialogue”, two European citizens confronted European Commission President José Manuel Barroso about the damage being inflicted on millions in Europe and outside as a result of his neoliberal policies. They finished their intervention by hurling eggs at the President, before peacefully leaving.

600 people had gathered in Liege’s new theatre to watch José Manuel Barroso, joined by Didier Reynders, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, and Jean- Claude Marcourt, Walloon Minister of Economy and the higher Education, as they played out a comedia de la politica, apparently unaware of the suffering as a result of the current economic and social crisis.

At the heart of the symbolic act of civil disobedience was a rejection of the politics of austerity promoted by Barroso and his Commission, most notably as one third of the Troika (the Commission, IMF and European Central Bank), presenting austerity as the only path open to Europe’s already embattled citizens. Unemployment, increasing privatisation, cuts to public services and lowering of wages are all measures that are hitting ordinary citizens the hardest, while corporate profits soar above pre-crisis levels. The debt crisis is a crisis of the 1%, the banks, the financial world, the rich and large corporations, whose taxes have been drastically reduced over the past 20 years, starving the public finances of an important source of income. Has Barroso forgotten that this is not a crisis caused by the people and should not therefore be paid back by the people?

The two citizens also confronted Barroso on the criminality of Europe’s immigration policies, where recent tragic events in Lampedusa remind us of their callousness, as well as their unpopularity: Barroso was booed upon arrival to the small Mediterranean island. Militarised borders, expulsions, confinement, repression, shipwrecks and deaths are a reality of Europe today, far removed from the image of Europe of solidarity that President Barroso and his fellow players attempted to sell the public.

The eggs thrown at the President symbolised the despair held by farmers and concerned citizens at Europe’s agricultural policies. Belgian egg producers, like many across the continent, sell their eggs for a loss and can no long earn a living from their activities. Competitiveness, free trade, an industrial food retail sector and large agribusiness are socially and environmentally damaging models of development, and the new fiscal compact signed between member states, as well as the newly-launched EU-US free trade agreement, will only make things worse.

In front of the theatre some 200 people had gathered as part of the Liege Platform against the European Treaty of Stability, Coordination and Governance (aka the fiscal compact). The day before, the platform had addressed a letter to President Barroso, published in the Le Soir newspaper, entitled ‘Mr Barroso, your project for society is not welcome !’.

In his role as President of the European Commission, Barroso is the representative of European policies and has an important role to play, as his title suggests. Yet, while a recent Eurobarometer poll shows 95% of Europeans are against the policy of austerity being imposed on the population, those in charge remain deaf to their concerns. To make themselves heard and to defend another Europe, a Europe of the 99%, the two citizens took the slogan from the upcoming European elections to heart: Act, React, Impact.

Next steps against the fiscal compact in Liège: Monday 21 October, 2013, 18h in front of the hotel de Ville de Liège. [1]

CADTM Belgique