Yesterday there were protests across Europe over the spending cuts and unemployment levels caused by EU policies. However, the first step to solving these problems is to tackle today's deep-rooted anti-growth ideas, which precede the current crisis.
Across Europe, people took to the streets in protest at the austerity measures being imposed by the EU. There were national strikes in Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal, and protests in France.
‘Greek workers have been struggling for three years against neoliberal policies that are destroying the social state. These policies are ahistorical: just as austerity destroyed democracy in Weimar Germany, today it threatens our democracy’, declared the leader of the Greek civil servants’ union. ‘There is a social emergency in the south’, said Bernadette Ségol of the European Trade Union Confederation. ‘All recognise that the policies carried out now are unfair and not working’, she said. Italian trade union leader Susanna Camusso railed against Italy’s technocratic government. ‘Stop telling us that there is light at the end of the tunnel… This austerity is strangling labour, impoverishing the country and doing nothing for the future.’
Banners declared that ‘Austerity Kills’ and the protests were certainly angry. The Guardian noted that ‘there was also a violent, even desperate edge to the demonstrations’. Riot police were out in force, particularly in Madrid.
There is certainly plenty to protest about. Living standards in these heavily indebted countries have been hit hard. Unemployment is very high, over 25 per cent in both Spain and Greece. Austerity has been imposed by Brussels on those countries, as well as on Portugal, Ireland and Italy. Even the French president, Francois Hollande, having been elected on an anti-austerity platform, has started making cuts.