They are certainly a strange species: ‘austerians’ seem ubiquitous at one moment only to be nowhere to be seen when the consequences of their decisions are laid bare. They are found in their natural habitats, national governments, central banks and the European Commission, rarely venturing out to meet the people that their policies effect.
In October, EPSU published the first in a series of briefings to counter the arguments set out by these austerity-mongers. In simple language and with clear economic data the myths peddled to promote cuts in spending and services are debunked, one by one.
This first briefing shows how the policies followed in the wake of the crisis, prioritising deficit reduction at all costs, has been counter-productive, not only in terms of employment and growth, but even in reducing overall levels of public debt.
Since the onset of the crisis, a staggering €700 billion has been taken out of the European economy, just when falling employment and consumer spending necessitate money being pumped in. 26 million Europeans are out of a job, whilst the aim of the ‘austerians’ seem to be a radical deregulation of labour markets, meaning that these unemployed Europeans may never be able to find high-quality, dignified work ever again. The European workforce risks being scarred for a generation by long term unemployment and, in the meantime, we are told to hold tight and twiddle our thumbs whilst the ‘medicine’ takes effect.
But a medicine that leaves the patient permanently ill is no medicine at all. European and national leaders need to change direction and take concrete action to promote jobs and investment. Otherwise, the European economy, along with ordinary citizens, may be condemned to the wilderness for years to come.
Austerity and Alternatives - Briefing #1: The Failure of Austerity can be downloaded here and provides essential arguments against austerity, all in just 7 short pages.
The publications provide great background for the Wednesday morning panel discussion "The Financial and Economic Crisis: what Type of Economic Policy?", with Elena Flores, Director Policy Strategy and Coordination of the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, European Commission, Sian Jones, from the European Anti Poverty Network, and Rossana Dettori, General Secretary FP-CGIL.