Enough is enough!

We need these elections to be a turning point in terms of how the crisis is being dealt with. The triple cocktail of austerity, internal devaluation, and restrictive monetary policy has shown itself to be not only unjust, but also stupid and counterproductive.

Austerity has destroyed advances that were achieved over the course of decades and has been a failure in macroeconomic terms. It has meant more recession, lower tax revenues, and more public debt. It has been a failure on its own terms. The logic of internal devaluation (competing in terms of salaries by lowering wages) would lead to the installation of “maquilas” in the south of Europe. It does not make any sense. We should be aiming for a reindustrialisation on the basis of knowledge and value added; as the slogan says, we should try to compete through high skills, not low wages. And the policy of the European Central Bank, based on the rigid dogma of controlling inflation, has deepened the crisis. In Spain we are entering a scenario of deflation at the same time unemployment is at 25%; we have an unbelievable rate of youth unemployment of 57%. It’s a scandal. These recipes, which are based on asymmetric adjustments that focus on debtor and not creditor nations, generate economic stagnation and social misery. They’re not even useful for guaranteeing debt sustainability.

If what the future holds in store for the periphery of Europe is more of what we are experiencing in the present, the European edifice will not hold up. My project is a strong and united Europe, but maintaining the status quo is not an attractive alternative. Europe needs profound reform if it is to avoid disintegration.

Our challenge is to recover the spirit of the European project, in the most genuine sense. Is Europe going to be a space where all we share is the colour of our money, or is it going to be a place of shared dignity? In order to recover the original sense of the project we need to adapt the tools of the welfare state from the 20th century to the 21st century. That means reconstructing our social pact, but at the European level. There are various necessary elements: a European budget much larger than what we currently have, which is a paltry 1% of GDP; tax and labour harmonisation to bring an end to the race to the bottom and disloyal competition; a reformed European Central Bank with an expanded mandate that includes unemployment and the possibility of issuing Eurobonds; a guarantee of basic services and rights; a shared commitment to expanding democracy at the European level and to making the European Parliament the centre of the communitarian political debate.

Our generation is a European generation but also a generation that has directly felt the costs of the policies that have been imposed throughout the crisis, and a generation that has seen its dreams vanish during recent years. We have to say enough is enough and take hold of our own destiny.

 

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