The Neo-Liberal Wind of Europe Blows over
The following article has been circulated by European
Marches 97, a network of forces which have been taking counter-actions against
EU summits, calling for an alternative to globalisation, and against
unemployment, job insecurity and social exclusion.
Events in Lisbon are a threat to us.
When Tony Blair said that he wanted to hold a
"European economic and social summit" at the beginning of the year,
we immediately understood what he meant and what it implied for us. The
Portuguese government, president of the European Union (EU), presented a
"new economy" text. However, this simply gave a new look to current
EU policies on employment and included some good intentions for eliminating
poverty that concerns nearly 65 million people in the EU.
The results are clear: behind the misleading words, the EU
governments were there to support neo-liberal policies as preached by the EU.
Before the year 2003, member states must have eliminated not just poverty, but
anything that might prevent the growth of the market economy. Neo-liberals
pushed through their "policies". The fact that the French government
dragged their feet a bit on the subject certainly did nothing to change the
situation. The promise of a "social agenda" programme for Nice is
ludicrous considering the implications of these plans under preparation in
The employment question is a mere conjuring trick. We are
promised 20 million new jobs between now and the year 2010. But we already know
from experience that these are going to be compulsory short-term jobs. This is
what they call "active policies", but the activity in question means
ending financial aid and benefits in order to force the unemployed to take any
jobs, at any wage regardless of working employment conditions.
In the name of sacrosanct macroeconomics, unemployment
statistics are going down, but poverty never stops growing on a continent that
is the richest on the planet. Even those plans for social cohesion by our
socially conscious Europeans to push back the rising tide of poverty ... of
children from now to the year 2010 (and what about a date for their parents?),
even those plans remain a pious hope...
In Lisbon, hope was in the streets.
When we see the outcome of this summit, for the most part
made up of social-democratic governments voted into office to end unemployment
and poverty, it is difficult to not to give way to anger and revolt. Never
again can they tell us that "it's all the Commission's fault!" They
are now totally responsible.
In spite of all that, we were not discouraged. Because in
Lisbon, hope was also in the streets. The CGPT initiative brought together more
than 50,000 demonstrators from all over Portugal to march in front the summit
building to stop lay-offs and end job insecurity and create real jobs. A strong
European Marches delegation of about 100 people (France, Italy, Germany and
Belgium...) joined the demonstration as well as other initiatives organised at
the same time and also participated in international meetings with the CP, the
Left Group and especially, the Alternative Summit of 24 March 2000.
From Porto to Nice, all together!
At the ETUC meeting in Lisbon, the ETUC announced that they
will call for demonstrations in Porto and Nice. NGOs also let it be known that
they too will be present in Nice. The time is ripe. Without European-wide
massive mobilisations, neo-liberals will continue to dictate their own rigid
laws of the market economy, unemployment and misery.
After Seattle, we must not let them decide our future
without us. From Porto to Nice, we must unite to organise on a massive scale,
all together, for all our rights.