Coordinated efforts in Europe and North Africa to fight against Debt and Austerity


16 April 2012 by Auditoria 15 M

The International Citizen Debt Audit Network – ICAN, has been born under the slogan “We don’t owe! We won’t pay!”, bringing together movements and networks in different European and North African countries, fighting austerity measures through the implementation of Citizen Debt Audits.

ICAN’s website

June 4th

In solidarity with the Greek people, against illegitimate debts and austerity measures, let us mobilize!

For joint actions around the Greek elections, and for large Euro-Mediterranean’s mobilizations in autumn 2012!

The First Euro-Mediterranean Meeting of the newly formed International Network for Citizen Debt Audits, has been held on April 7th in Brussels. Activists from twelve countries participated: Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Poland, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Egypt and Tunisia. The different regions are developing or initiating Citizen Debt Audits or campaigns against austerity and debt.

During the meeting different organizations, networks and social movements shared experiences, talking about the type of audits being conducted or promoted in each country, as well as what type of actions and social mobilizations strategies are developing in each territory (see appendix for a list of the different campaigns). Among them, the Spanish Citizen Debt Audit Platform, “We don’t owe, we won’t pay!”, was presented, which brings together organizations and social movements in the Spanish State and will conduct a citizen debt audit in the country.

Beyond the exchange of information on how each country is tackling the debt situation, the meeting set the foundations for a better communication and coordination of the international network. It also outlined a common calendar, which identifies important action dates against debt and austerity: May 1st Labor Day, Global May protests from May 12th to 15th (coinciding with the first anniversary of “15M/Indignados” movement in Spain) and May 16th to 19th protests, actions, rallies and blockades against 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.

in Frankfurt.

The proposal made by Greece of holding a Global Day of Action against Debt, Austerity and in solidarity with the Greek people, was warmly welcomed, probably during the Global Week of Action against Debt and IFIs, held annually between October 8th and 15th. This year coincides with the 25th anniversary of the death of Thomas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso, killed (among other issues) for opposing to payment of debt. It has been also agreed to study the possibility of a second international meeting, with greater participation of grassroots activists, and growing presence of organisations and more countries, probably in Barcelona early autumn 2012.

Greek activists, authors of Debtocracy, put and end to the meeting with the presentation of Catastroika trailer:

Appendix: Summary of the different Euro-Mediterranean mobilizations against Debt and Austerity, present at the meeting in Brussels.

In Spain, work towards a Citizen Debt Audit started in October last year, but it was at the end of March 2012 when the Citizen Debt Audit Platform, “We don’t owe, we won’t pay!” was created, with local work groups throughout the country. On the basis of the existence of sufficient evidence of illegitimacy in debt that Spanish Government, together with the EU and regional governments, are using as a pretext to pull ahead with bleeding austerity policies, it seeks to show through a Citizen Debt Audit, the details of the process that led to this situation. One of the objectives is to claim the right to decide through democratic and sovereign power, what to do with the debt and our future, without interference of financial markets, the European Commission, the ECB ECB
European Central Bank
The European Central Bank is a European institution based in Frankfurt, founded in 1998, to which the countries of the Eurozone have transferred their monetary powers. Its official role is to ensure price stability by combating inflation within that Zone. Its three decision-making organs (the Executive Board, the Governing Council and the General Council) are composed of governors of the central banks of the member states and/or recognized specialists. According to its statutes, it is politically ‘independent’ but it is directly influenced by the world of finance.
and the IMF IMF
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.
. It will be a citizen process, open to all those who wish to participate. On one hand, it will address the Spanish state as debtor, public debt and private debt in risk of becoming public. It will be done on a State, regional and local level. The audit process will also have a comprehensive vision, analyzing not only economic and financial issues, but also impact on gender, environment, culture or social and political aspects. On another other hand, will also include the role of the Spanish State as creditor of debts with countries in the Global South.

Greece describes their situation as a social genocide. Their Non-payment and Debt Audit campaign has been working for one year now, with big social support especially from the “Aganaktismeni” (“Indignant”) movement and with special emphasis on gender. During the intervention of George Mitralias, member of the Greek Committee against Debt, the suicide of the retired pharmacist (who decided to take his life rather than loosing his dignity due to the pension cuts applied) was recalled.

The Irish Debt Audit began in January 2011, initially done urgently by experts on a small-scale. Much of the debt comes from a single bank, the Anglo Bank (under judicial investigation). A debt covered with an ECB loan that the state continues to pay while applying austerity measures. They are now working on education and mobilization using the results of the audit. Their objectives include global regulation of the financial sector.

Portuguese campaign kicks off in December 2011 and includes the participation of a broad spectrum of experts, professionals and grassroots activists, with the ultimate goal of forcing the restructuring of public debt because of its illegitimacy, using the audit strategy as a foundation for creating a new social paradigm.

In Italy various networks work on citizen education through universities and public schools, showing the illegitimacy of debt, arguing non-payment and with mobilization actions against banks, privatizations or the construction of the high-speed (TGV) Torino-Lione train. There are outstanding complaints against corruption and lack of regulation.

Poland’s economic growth is levered through borrowing from financial institutions, what may result in another debt crisis. They are experiencing tax cuts for corporations, increasing VAT taxes (with effects on disadvantaged population), a Social Security reform (with increasing difficulty of access to healthcare), privatizations and intentions of delaying retirement age. A large majority of the population is against these measures and soon their audit process will begin.

In Egypt, several people and groups are working on starting the campaign in collaboration with organizations in Germany, France and the UK. Its objectives include the suspension of debt payments. With the current government against them (which is subscribing eight times more debt than the previous dictatorship), they want to work on the odious debt Odious Debt According to the doctrine, for a debt to be odious it must meet two conditions:
1) It must have been contracted against the interests of the Nation, or against the interests of the People, or against the interests of the State.
2) Creditors cannot prove they they were unaware of how the borrowed money would be used.

We must underline that according to the doctrine of odious debt, the nature of the borrowing regime or government does not signify, since what matters is what the debt is used for. If a democratic government gets into debt against the interests of its population, the contracted debt can be called odious if it also meets the second condition. Consequently, contrary to a misleading version of the doctrine, odious debt is not only about dictatorial regimes.

(See Éric Toussaint, The Doctrine of Odious Debt : from Alexander Sack to the CADTM).

The father of the odious debt doctrine, Alexander Nahum Sack, clearly says that odious debts can be contracted by any regular government. Sack considers that a debt that is regularly incurred by a regular government can be branded as odious if the two above-mentioned conditions are met.
He adds, “once these two points are established, the burden of proof that the funds were used for the general or special needs of the State and were not of an odious character, would be upon the creditors.”

Sack defines a regular government as follows: “By a regular government is to be understood the supreme power that effectively exists within the limits of a given territory. Whether that government be monarchical (absolute or limited) or republican; whether it functions by “the grace of God” or “the will of the people”; whether it express “the will of the people” or not, of all the people or only of some; whether it be legally established or not, etc., none of that is relevant to the problem we are concerned with.”

So clearly for Sack, all regular governments, whether despotic or democratic, in one guise or another, can incur odious debts.
of Mubarak’s era, sending a petition to the European Parliament to suspend the payment of debt.

Within objectives of the demonstrations against debt in Tunisia, is the end the current regime, moratorium on the payment of debt and cancellation of odious debt accumulated by Ben Ali’s regime. They are carrying out education campaigns, working with media, trade unions and unemployed and have a petition signed by 130 MEPs to support their request for a moratorium. However, the government, taking advantage of the crisis, keeps subscribing more debt. There is close collaboration with French organizations and parties.,

France, the Collective for a Citizen Audit of Public Debt has 120 local groups working on the report throughout the entire French territory. Beyond the question of debt, they are working against the austerity measures and the Fiscal Pact promoted by the European Union. In addition, Paris’ “Indignés” have also organized a working group on debt.

In the UK, debt is politically used by liberals. It has been non-democratically subscribed to put forward austerity policies. Different groups organise actions of solidarity with Greece, Ireland and Egypt, but are also starting an audit of British debt, which will be developed mainly by experts.

In Germany, where the media repeats there is no crisis in the country, inequality within the population is growing fast. They consider important working on the international network and are organising the demonstrations against the European Central Bank next May 16th to 19th.

Media is silent in Belgium as well. Groups like CADTM, ATTAC or Vie Feminine, are conducting a campaign against Belgian bank bailout by the government. Especially Dexia, which has been rescued twice already. A judicial case against the Belgian State and Dexia has been opened.

Réunion euro-méditerranéenne des campagnes d’audit de la dette / 7 avril 2012
Joao Camargo ( Initiative pour un Audit citoyen de la dette publique )

Réunion euro-méditerranéenne des campagnes d’audit de la dette /
7 avril 2012
Peter Strotman (Attac allemagne)
Vernhes Marie-Dominique (Attac allemagne /Sand im getriebe)
Stephan Linder (Attac allemagne /Sand im getriebe)

Réunion euro-méditerranéenne des campagnes d’audit de la dette /
7 avril 2012
Sonia et Yiorgos Mitralias (Comité grec contre la dette)

Réunion euro-méditerranéenne des campagnes d’audit de la dette /
7 avril 2012
Fathy Chamkhi (RAID/ATTAC/CADTM)

Réunion euro-méditerranéenne des campagnes d’audit de la dette /
7 avril 2012
Wael Majdoub (OTC OTC
Over-the-Counter market
An over-the-counter or off-exchange market is an unregulated market on which transactions are made directly between the seller and the purchaser, as opposed to a so-called organized or regulated market where there is a regulatory authority, such as a stock exchange.
(Organisation Tunisienne de Citoyenneté)
Amira Dkhil( OTC (Organisation Tunisienne de Citoyenneté)
Noha El Shoki (Campagne populaire pour l’audit, Egypte)

Réunion euro-méditerranéenne des campagnes d’audit de la dette /
7 avril 2012
Roland Zarzycki (Not Our Debt [Nie Nasz Dlug])|

Réunion euro-méditerranéenne des campagnes d’audit de la dette /
7 avril 2012
Noha El Shoki ( Campagne populaire pour l’audit)

Réunion euro-méditerranéenne des campagnes d’audit de la dette / 7 avril 2012
Eric Toussaint

Réunion euro-méditerranéenne des campagnes d’audit de la dette /
7 avril 2012
Dario Di Nepi ( Rivolta Il Debito )
Antonio Tricarico ( CRBM on behalf of Smonta il debito/Rivolta il debito )

Réunion euro-méditerranéenne des campagnes d’audit de la dette /
7 avril 2012
Frédéric Lemaire (ATTAC France)
Patrick Saurin (Sud BPCE — Collectif d’audit citoyen)

Réunion euro-méditerranéenne des campagnes d’audit de la dette /
7 avril 2012
Christian Celdran ( ATTAC France )
Joan Cortinas Muñoz ( Indignés Paris, Groupe de travail dette )
Jean-Pierre Maleyrat ( Indignés Paris, Groupe de travail dette )

Réunion euro-méditerranéenne des campagnes d’audit de la dette /
7 avril 2012
Molly Scott Cato ( UK Debt Audit - Green House )
Jonathan Stevenson ( Jubilee Debt Campaign )

Le groupe franco-tunisien d’ATTAC et du CADTM interroge Eric Toussaint à propos de la Tunisie lors de la éunion euro-méditerranéenne des campagnes d’audit de la dette le 7 avril 2012



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