All posts filed under: EU

Number of European working poor doubles in a decade

by Elisabeth Zimmermann , 12 July 2017, WSWS More and more people in work in Europe are being forced into poverty. This is demonstrated by a new study by the Hans Böckler Foundation which was made public last Thursday.  The study, titled “Activation policies and poverty,” notes that a growing proportion of the population of Europe live in poverty, although they are working. The researchers from the Economic and Social Sciences Institute (WSI) of the Böckler Foundation examined the effects of labor market and social policy measures in 18 EU countries from 2004 to 2014. All of the measures were aimed at forcing unemployed people into low-wage labor. According to their research, an average of about 10 percent of the workforce aged between 18 and 64 in the countries studied were “working poor.” This means they earn less than 60 percent of the average income in their country. The proportion of working poor was highest in Romania at 18.6 percent, followed by Greece, 13.4 percent, and Spain, 13.2 percent. In Germany, the number of working …

Hungary: Paradise for liberals

by István Lovas Do you wonder what you are going to read in the mainstream press on Hungary tomorrow? I will tell you. The same as yesterday, and the same as in the past almost seven years since Hungary’s right-of-center Fidesz government, led by the Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, was elected. You will learn that Mr. Orbán is a populist, an autocratic ruler, a menace to Europe, and a politician not hesitating to use anti-Semitic language in order to win over voters of the far-right Jobbik, and cover up uncomfortable truths about whatever is on the agenda in Hungary on that day. He, of course, has muzzled the media, made the court system a handmaiden of the ruling elite, abolished checks and balances, while he is suffocating the voice of dissenters, creates inordinate fear, chases away half of the country beyond Hungary’s borders, and the rest of the stuff. Lately, Hungary has been called the safe haven of the European ultra-right. At the time when Hungary’s authorities have arrested and expelled two such figures, such …

All Power to the Banks: The Winners-take-all Regime of Emmanuel Macron

by Diana Johnstone, via Counterpunch A ghost of the past was the real winner of the French presidential election.  Emmanuel Macron won only because a majority felt they had to vote against the ghost of “fascism” allegedly embodied by his opponent, Marine Le Pen.  Whether out of panic or out of the need to feel respectable, the French voted two to one in favor of a man whose program most of them either ignored or disliked.  Now they are stuck with him for five years. If people had voted on the issues, the majority would never have elected a man representing the trans-Atlantic elite totally committed to “globalization”, using whatever is left of the power of national governments to weaken them still further, turning over decision-making to “the markets” – that is, to international capital, managed by the major banks and financial institutions, notably those located in the United States, such as Goldman-Sachs. The significance of this election is so widely misrepresented that clarification requires a fairly thorough explanation, not only of the Macron project, …

What is Needed is a Progressive Vision of National Sovereignty

by Thomas Fazi, via Green European Journal The last year has seen the Right and extreme Right capitalise on the dissatisfaction and despair fostered by neoliberalism – and usher in a ‘post-neoliberal order’. Their success is based on championing and monopolising the idea of national sovereignty, but only of a certain kind. The Left has accepted their discourse that national sovereignty goes hand in hand with exclusivist and right-wing ideas, rather than attempting to reclaim it as vehicle for change. Over the past 12 months, an anti-establishment backlash has taken the West by storm. The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the election of Donald Trump in the United States, the rejection of Matteo Renzi’s neoliberal constitutional reform in Italy, rising support for the National Front in France and for other (mostly right-wing) ‘anti-systemic’ parties across Europe, the EU’s unprecedented crisis of legitimation. Although these interrelated phenomena differ in ideology and goals, they are all rejections of the (neo)liberal order that has dominated the world – and in particular the West – for the past …

France’s election at gunpoint

from Defend Democracy Press The first round of the elections in France is being held against the backdrop of an attempt by the state and the media to use the violent incident on the Champs Elysées, involving a gunman who is alleged to have been acting on behalf of ISIS, to create an atmosphere of political hysteria. With over 50,000 soldiers and policemen set to deploy to polling stations tomorrow, the elections are to be held at gunpoint. As facts emerge about the background of the alleged gunman, it is virtually impossible not to conclude that this shooting was a provocation involving elements of the security forces, over half of whom plan to vote for Marine Le Pen’s neo-fascist National Front (FN). Karim Cheurfi, a French citizen and career criminal, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2003 for shooting and nearly killing two policemen, but later released on appeal, was last arrested in February after demanding weapons and stating he wanted to kill policemen. He was released supposedly because the “level of …

EU imports 15 times more from illegal Israeli settlements than from Palestinians

by Defend Democracy Press, Dec. 31, 2016 “The gap between Europe’s rhetoric on illegal settlement growth and our actions is widening. We have reached a nonsensical situation where we are economically and financially sustaining the very obstacles to peace we so often condemn. This new report brings together powerful and pragmatic suggestions for a change in policy to truly advance peace,” said Chris Doyle, Director of Caabu. A broad coalition calls on Europe to move decisively beyond rhetoric on settlements. The European Union imports fifteen times more from Israel’s illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory than from Palestinians themselves, a new report [1] from a coalition of 22 non-governmental organisations including Caabu, Christian Aid UK and Ireland, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Diakonia revealed today. The report, entitled “Trading Away Peace: How Europe helps sustain illegal Israeli settlements”, is the first to compare available export data from Israeli settlements and Palestinians, highlighting the inconsistency at the heart of EU policy. The EU states, “settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle …

If they don’t want more austerity, racists & non-racists should vote Le Pen

by Ramin Mazaheri The fundamental problem in France today is that racists aren’t polling for Jean-Luc Melenchon. Who? He ran 4th in France’s presidential election in 2012. Same as Jill Stein and you’ve heard of her. He has created the superbly-named Disobedient France Party. You don’t hear about him for the same reason that what you likely read about the recent Austrian election were exhales over the “far-right loss”, when you should have heard “a Green Party wins for 2nd time ever in Europe” (after Latvia). The reason for this is that Western mainstream media is fundamentally capitalist when private and fundamentally status quo when public – that they have no interest in promoting leftist victories, ever. Not even a left-center one like in Austria. For them, history is over – there is no alternative to right-wing economics like austerity as well as the continental domination of Brussels. This rightward fundamentalism is why most of the world knows who ran third in France’s 2012 election – Marine Le Pen of the National Front. Le Pen …

Report on the Referendum in Italy

by Massimo D´Antoni, via Defend Democracy Press December 4th was a great day in Italy.  We hoped for such an outcome, but did not expect it.  When we saw so much turnout by voters we were not sure how to interpret it, because the media and the government had claimed that more voters would result in a higher percentage of “yes” to the constitutional reform.  Well, it was the other way round.  An unprecedented (for a referendum) participation rate brought to a clear rejection of the reform proposal, and of the government. Let me remind you of the line-ups: against the reform were the populist Five Stars movement, the xenophobic North League, Berlusconi’s right and the Left, plus the minority of the Democratic Party lead by former leaders Bersani and D’Alema. In favour of the reform was the government, i.e. Renzi’s Democratic Party (except the former leaders Bersani and D’Alema, who campaigned for the No) with its center-right allied party NCD. However, the actual support for the reform was expected to be a bit larger than …

Obama’s Musings on False Narratives and Fake Stories

by Glen Ford, The Black Agenda Report People no longer believe the fake “news” and bogus narratives issued by the ruling class and its corporate and military misinformation specialists. President Obama traveled to Berlin last [month] to browbeat Europeans on why they should continue to play junior partners in Washington’s quest for full spectrum global domination, but kept returning to his post-election obsession: the existential threat posed by “fake news” on social media. It was as if the realization had just dawned on the lame duck president, that his own powers to create “facts” and manufacture “news” out of thin air would soon be gone.  Without the Clintons in the White House to continue the neoliberal project, history might conclude that the First Black President’s only enduring legacy was…that he was the first Black president. It’s a question of who gets to decide what’s “fake” or not. Obama fears that what he calls “fake” news begets fake history, which begets the fall of western civilization as the rulers would like people to imagine it. Fake …

Statement for a Standing Plan B in Europe

by Internationalist Summit for a Plan B in Europe! Here is the final declaration of the Plan B Summit, which took place on 19-20 November 2016 in Copenhagen. We, the undersigned, elected representatives, academics, trade unionists, social movements, party organisations, commit ourselves to a standing Plan B for Europe as a force of opposition and alternative to the European institutions. We refuse a Europe of permanent austerity, attack on social and labour rights and devaluation of labour. We deplore the erosion of financial stability on our continent. We contest the shift from public to private which redirects common resources and public finances to service debt owned by banks. The steamrolling of the Greek left wing experiment in 2015 has shown the need for a platform that specifically addresses the blackmail and the attempt to impose neoliberal policies via the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). An alternative is needed urgently, as the EMU is set to become even more dangerous in the coming years. By imposing austerity, the political and financial oligarchy has created insecurity and …

Croatian President photographed holding Nazi puppet-state flag

by InSerbia with agencies A photograph of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic holding Independent State of Croatia (NDH) flag appeared on social networks, reported Croatian portal “Indeks”. The Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was a World War II puppet state of Germany and Italy, which was established in parts of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia. The NDH was founded on 10 April 1941, after the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers. The NDH consisted of modern-day Croatia and most of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as some parts of modern-day Serbia and Slovenia. The regime targeted Serbs, Jews, Roma people and anti-fascist or dissident Croatians and Muslims, as part of a large-scale genocide campaign in places such as the Jasenovac concentration camp. Professor from Toronto Tihomir Janjicek published, with her permission, a photograph with Croatian President behind a Croatian flag as it was during the Nazi Independent State of Croatia in the World War Two. As stated, Janjicek wrote that he placed the flag with personal permission of Croatian President. “The President saw the flag and as …

What is the European Union For?

by Frank After all the initial eu(ro)phoria and hopes placed upon the original concept of a non-aligned, social-democratic Euro-bloc, the reality has turned out somewhat differently. In a pamphlet written in 2011 – Europe: The Unfinished Project – I wrote: At the present time the EU project seems to be stuck in no-man’s land, unable to press ahead with full political integration, or retreat back into a northern European protectionist Deutschmark zone, and leaving the peripheral member states to the tender mercies of unfettered, globalized capitalism. However there seems to be a sufficient residue of the original EU idealism in the present stage of development to persevere further with the political struggle taking place.” Ibid, page 19 I believe that this view, which seemed justifiable and plausible enough at the time of writing, has now become difficult to sustain. And the reason for this came in the next sentence, viz. One only has to consider the Anglo-American alternatives (to the Euro model) and globalization more generally to make this choice.” This statement was, however, based …

West is Gunning for Russian Media Ban

by Finian Cunningham, via Strategic Culture It would be monumental, but Western states seem to be moving, ineluctably, towards banning Russian news media channels from satellite platforms and the internet. That outcome – albeit with enormous ethical and political implications – seems to be a logical conclusion of the increasingly frenzied transatlantic campaign to demonize Russia. Washington, London and Paris appear to be coordinating an unprecedented media onslaught that is vilifying Russia for almost every conceivable malfeasance, from alleged war crimes in Syria to threatening the security of Europe, to shooting down civilian airliners, to subverting American presidential elections. And that’s only a sample. British foreign secretary Boris Johnson declared this week that Russia is in danger of becoming a «pariah state». Ironically, that fate has less to do with Russia’s actual conduct and more to do with the desired objective driving Western policy towards Moscow – to isolate and portray Russia as an international reprobate. If Russia can be sufficiently demonized in the eyes of the Western public by their governments, then the political context is …

Exposing US-Funded “NGOs”

by The New Atlas From Moscow to Myanmar, US-European funded organisations undermine the essential work of genuine NGOs. A nongovernmental organisation (NGO) is described as a not-for-profit organisation independent from states and international governments. They are funded by donations and facilitated by volunteers drawn from the communities they serve. Genuine NGOs fitting this description fulfill a vital role within the nations they work regarding issues including education, healthcare, the media, the environment, technology, and economic development. They often perform their work in parallel with government organisations and may even cooperate with their national government. At other times, the provide a necessary but constructive check and balance to deficiencies present within a state. However, NGOs can be abused. Foreign governments and financially motivated special interests can use the structure and appeal of NGOs as vectors to project unwarranted, coercive power and influence. Funded not by the communities they claim to serve, but by these foreign interests, they often operate under the pretext of upholding the legitimate  roles and responsibilities of genuine NGOs while in reality undermining …

Is The Nation-State And Its Welfare State Dead? A Critique Of Varoufakis

by Vincente Navarro, via Social Europe I always read the writings of Mr. Varoufakis with great interest, and I frequently find myself in agreement, particularly in his criticism of the Troika (the International Monetary Fund, European Commission, and European Central Bank) and of the Eurogroup (the Ministers of Economy and Finances of the European Union).  I also concur with his call for a European-wide mobilization to force democracy upon the institutions that govern the EU, although I disagree with his proposed way to do it. He believes (wrongly, I think) that the power of nation-states has practically disappeared in the EU. They do not count any longer.  Based on his Greek experience, when he represented the Syriza government in negotiations with the Troika, he concludes that nation-states do not have any power.  According to Varoufakis, governments and parliaments in these nation-states have been transformed into mere transmission belts of whatever is decided by the Troika and associated institutions.  He writes in one of his recent publications that “European governments transmit to the Parliaments whatever is …

After Greece and Cyprus, they prepare to attack Italy

by Simon Wilson, MoneyWeek Italian banks are on the brink of collapse and EU rules make bail-outs seem politically impossible. Will they fall – and who will they take down with them? Why the worry over Italian banks? A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of banking collapses in Italy, which could lead to renewed crisis in the eurozone, and a wider banking crisis affecting other countries with high exposure to Italian bank debt. Italy’s banks are in deep trouble, weighed down by €360bn of bad debt (“non-performing loans” in the jargon), equivalent to a fifth of Italy’s GDP (and about 18% of all the banks’ loans). Shares in the sector have slumped this year as investors began to price in the risk of banking collapses. One of the worst affected has been Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank. The sell-off has gathered pace since the shock of the Brexit vote on 23 June caused investors to reevaluate the risks facing European assets. Why are the banks so vulnerable? Most fundamentally …

European Commission serving a corporate agenda

by Colin Todhunter* A report released last year by the watchdog body Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) revealed huge conflicts of interests in the Scientific Committees under DG SANCO, the European Commission’s department in charge of consumer issues (see here ‘Chemical Conflicts’). These Committees assess the risk to humans and the environment of chemicals found in a huge range of everyday items, from shampoo to baby bottles. Their opinions guide European Commission regulators, who decide which chemicals are safe and at what levels and which should be banned. The research found that two thirds of scientists had at least one, and some many more, conflicts of interest due to their links to industries impacted by assessments. The research focused on assessment procedures involving the Scientific Committees with regard to four substances, including endocrine disrupting parabens and DNA-damaging titanium dioxide – in nano-form. All of the substances are already widely available on the market. Having gone through the annual declarations of the interests of all 57 members involved in the Scientific Committees’ opinions on the four substances examined (parabens, nano titanium-dioxide, nano silver, …

Barroso and Goldman Sachs – a dangerous liaison

Revolving Doors, Corporate Europe Observatory, July 19, 2016 The news that José Manuel Barroso will become non-executive chairman at Goldman Sachs did not exactly come as a surprise.  This is a man who presided over the European Commission for 10 years and, from the beginning, his leadership followed a corporate agenda, with its close links to the biggest businesses and banks in the EU representing a key trait of the current European project. But this one move has catapulted the EU’s revolving door problem onto the political agenda, causing widespread jaw-dropping and reactions of disbelief, making it a symbol of excessive corporate influence at the highest levels of the EU. Corporate Europe Observatory had already mapped Barroso’s numerous career moves in the months following the end of his term as Commission president. Since Autumn 2014, his 20+ new roles have taken him into the arts, academia and to the corporate lobbyfests of the European Business Summit and the Bilderberg Conference.  Our detailed report from October last year highlighted Barroso’s positions, as well as the roles …

Debt and Austerity: Greece Continues to Be Sucked Dry

by Peter Koenig, via Global Research How long will this go on? How long will we see the photographs of a Mr. Tsipras and his Finance Minister in despair. Yet the blood-letting continues. Already new austerity measures are being projected for 2018 – between 5.4 billion EUR asked by Europeans and 9 billion EUR requested by IMF – and the securing of the Greek debt sustainability through deep restructuring measures (meaning more selling of public assets to foreign corporations), as reported by journalist Yannis Kibouropoulos. Yes, € 9 billion by the IMF, of all institutions! The very organization that has ostensibly pledged with Greece’s creditors to forgive some of the debt to let the country breathe. This noble idea seems to have given in to the abject, murderous greed of the banks, one among them, the Deutsche Bank, currently the most vulnerable and indebted in the world, not just in Europe, for its derivative exposure of almost € 66 trillion, or about the world’s GDP. The globe’s most criminal financial speculator is to be paid more …