Europe is still struggling – and failing – to come out of the Great Recession triggered by reckless global financial institutions in 2008. The European Union, especially the euro area, has been seriously damaged by the neo-liberal policies pursued by the conservative majority to tackle the wrong problems – at the cost of millions of victims made scapegoats for the crisis.
A new book – Basta! An end to Austerity – analyses the policy errors made and highlights their savage impact. Not least the collapse of confidence and trust in post-war European institutions across the continent. Written by Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament and myself, it sets out how the democratic and progressive Left has consistently sent out warning signals about false policy options and put forward cogent, cohesive alternatives ahead of the game. It is both a savage critique of dead-end austerity politics and proof positive that the notion that the progressive Left has run out of ideas is a calumny.
The Left indeed has a positive vision of how Europe can arrest decline and restore hope through genuine changes in economic governance and much greater democratic control. We need to combine policies to promote a new kind of growth and more jobs with increased fairness and equality.
This has nothing to do with a return to so-called “tax and spend” policies as if the crisis never happened. But it has got everything to do with investment to create work for the 26.5 million officially out of work, especially the “lost generation” of young people, and to begin restoring Europe’s competitiveness.
Above all, we need to restore to Europe’s half a billion citizens the ability to shape their own lives. We reject the “European consensus” demanded by José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, ahead of the June 27-28 2013 EU-28 summit and built upon “reforms” designed to depress wages and remove rights.
In the book we show in detail how the Left’s alternatives can be achieved. First, Swoboda sets out his group’s analysis and vision in an interview. Then, we explore the flaws in the EU’s economic strategy and expound the Left’s alternative growth survey. Two further chapters show how the Left has repeatedly shifted the policy agenda towards genuine structural reforms and “growth-friendly” fiscal consolidation and propose a genuine economic and monetary union firmly based upon social justice. Finally, we present a vision of a New Europe for All.