In a little-reported statement given on March 1st at the influential London School of Economics in the UK, Lord Mervyn King, the former Governor of the Bank of England, confirmed that the financial crisis afflicting Europe since 2009 is essentially the result of a “deliberate” act of policy. Highly critical of the destructive economic strategies of the Brussels EU, he predicted that, in order to free its weakest member countries from the strangulating combination of austerity measures and high unemployment they are suffering from, the euro currency zone will have to be dismantled.
In 2010 the Greek state lost the capacity to service its debt. Put simply, it became insolvent and, thus, lost access to capital markets.
To prevent a default on fragile French and German banks, that had irresponsibly lent billions to irresponsible Greek governments, Europe decided to grant Greece the largest loan in world history on condition of the largest ever magnitude of fiscal consolidation (also known as austerity) which, naturally, resulted in a world record loss of national income – the greatest since the Great Depression. And so began a vicious cycle of austerity-driven debt-deflation, spearheading a humanitarian crisis and a complete inability to repay the nation’s debts.
In politics, whoever can better influence the international media to push forward their views has the upper hand, say political communications insiders. And this isn’t just the case during election campaigns: in the European Union, decision-making power depends not only on the size of a given player’s economy, but also on how it deals with international media.
Communiqué de presse de l’Initiative de Solidarité avec la Grèce qui Résiste – Bruxelles:
Environ 100 personnes ont participé à un rassemblement de protestation lors du premier acte public de la présidence grecque à Bruxelles. Les manifestants grecs et belges ont dénoncé les politiques barbares d’austérité du gouvernement grec et de l’UE.
Vu que ce rassemblement était annoncé depuis un mois, aucun membre du gouvernement grec n’a osé (more…)
After months of preparation, the days of action organised by the coalition For a European Spring erupted into life last week. However, here in Brussels the police tried to stop it: first banning a peaceful demonstration and then arbitrarily arresting people after a peaceful occupation of the European Commission’s ‘Austerity HQ’. But despite their efforts, the seeds have now been sown, and the pan-European movement against undemocratic and destructive austerity policies is growing.
For a European Spring, Against Austerity
For a European Spring, a coalition of more than 30 groups from 13 countries, came together to reject the European Union’s consistent response to the economic crisis: austerity. In Northern and Southern Europe, we’re witnessing the dismantling of the welfare state, snowballing unemployment and rapidly falling living standards. That’s why the coalition felt that the EU Spring Summit, where political leaders gather to discuss further austerity measures, was the perfect opportunity to send a loud, clear message from the people of Europe that we reject the undemocratic imposition of austerity.
The coalition declared 13Th March as a day of decentralised action, with marches, seminars, general assemblies, and many other activities taking place across Europe while the 14th was a day of concentrated action in Brussels for all Europeans.
Come on a magical Austeritour
In unison with people in Spain, Italy, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Greece, in Belgium we organised our own decentralised action: an Austerity Tour of the European institutions as well as the financial and industrial lobbies that have been at the heart of the austerity drive. Accompanied by a samba band and slogan-chanting, the tour weaved through Brussel’s EU quarter, beginning with an action at the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (whose activities were declared a risk to public health and the economy, and therefore quarantined – see pictures). After taking in the European Banking Federation, the Spanish Embassy, the repeatedly-bailed out Belfius Bank and the European Commission, the tour ended at Aquafed, the lobby responsible for pushing water privatisation on behalf of the big water corporates. A staged ‘tug-o-war’ for control of water – between the Troika (the IMF, the Commission and the European Central Bank) and the people – ended in favour of the people. But the real world battle is still far from one, although this short animated videoshows what great campaigning is currently ongoing. A secret ‘unannounced’ stop took everyone on the tour to Business Europe, the city’s biggest lobbying association. There we joined them in celebrating their unbridled success during these austere times. Their members are the main beneficiaries of the Troika’s enforced privatisation. (more…)
One of the biggest lobby offensives in recent years has been raining down on Brussels, as American internet giants have taken fright at the prospect of new data privacy laws proposed for the EU. But it turns out that an alarmed Amazon or enraged eBay are aggressive animals, with friends in high places. The result of this massive lobby effort has been revealed by a new crowdsourced lobby transparency project, LobbyPlag, which shows how MEPs have copy-pasted amendments written by IT multinationals directly into the EU’s new data protection law.
New internet data privacy proposals
The proposed General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) includes a ‘right to be forgotten’, which would compel companies to permanently delete or hand over all data they hold on a person on request. It would also require web businesses to gain explicit consent from individual users to collect their information and use it for a particular purpose. This would create a real barrier for the invasive but profitable business strategy of online data collection and profiling of individuals. Moreover, it would give national regulators the ability to fine companies up to 2 percent of their annual sales for not complying.
The proposed data protection regulation is currently being looked at by the European Parliament, and it is there that aggressive and fruitful lobbying is taking place, by US multinationals like eBay and Amazon, Facebook and Google, as well as digital technology lobby platform ‘Digital Europe’ (whose members include all the big IT names, like Apple, Blackberry, IBM and Microsoft) and Amcham EU – the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union – a hugely well-resourced and controversial US lobby group. Green MEP Eva Lichtenberger dubbed it “one of the biggest lobby wars of all times”. Commissioner Reding, who proposed the legislation, described the lobbying as “absolutely fierce – I have not seen such a heavy lobbying operation”. And Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrechtcondemned the lobby offensive as coming from “a wish list of companies that do not pursue harmonization of data protection in the EU, but complete deregulation.” (more…)
François Hollande appeals to Europe to lift arms embargo at Brussels summit
The French president, François Hollande, who will force the Syrian situation on to the agenda at the EU summit. Photograph: Thierry Charlier/AFP/Getty Images
France and Britain have moved a step closer to arming the opposition to the Assad regime in a radical move aimed at tipping the balance in the two-year civil war while also ignoring European policy on Syria.
The French president, François Hollande, went into an EU summit in Brussels with a dramatic appeal for Europe to join Paris and London in lifting a European arms embargo, but the sudden policy shift was certain to run into stiff German opposition.
“We want the Europeans to lift the embargo,” said Hollande. “Britain and France are agreed on this option … France has to first persuade its European partners. But France also has to accept its responsibilities. We can’t allow a people to be massacred by a regime which has shown that it doesn’t want a political discussion.”
Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, called for the EU embargo to be abandoned, declaring that France and Britain would act in concert, as they did in going to war against Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya when Germany joined Russia and China at the UN security council in voting against. (more…)