2012 started as 2011 ended
(2 February 2012) 2012 has started like 2011 ended! Strikes, protest actions and demonstrations across Europe against the blind austerity imposed by Governments that is having disastrous effects.
So far in 2012 we have seen a one day General strike in Belgium, mass protests against privatisation of health and education all over Spain, mobilisations against austerity in Romania, protests by truck drivers and taxi men in Italy. The root cause of all these expressions of anger are the same: one-sided austerity and reform measures.
Above all, the European leaders have come out with the proposal of an Intergovernmental Treaty, the so-called Fiscal Compact, covering Euro-Zone countries, but other countries can join. The Council meeting of 30 January adopted this Treaty, only the UK and the Czech Republic have declared not to join the Treaty.
The main measure contained is the ’balanced budget rule’ that all countries have to approve in either national legislation or constitutions. Together with the set of measures already adopted (the six pack) and further measures for the monitoring and surveillance proposed by the European Commission in November 2011, this Treaty would create a legally binding framework for European and national economic policy exclusively focused on cuts in public expenditure. Nothing is foreseen to strengthen Social Europe and deal with those governments that undermine trade union rights, do not achieve the targets to reduce poverty or do not invest in the economy to create jobs and growth. Bypassing the European Parliament, social partners and civil society at large, the EU is plunged into yet another reform without the necessary consensus.
The European Trade Union Confederation has expressed its opposition to the Treaty and has called for a European wide mobilisation on 29 February. EPSU will be, as it has been doing throughout 2011, calling on its affiliates to protest against austerity.
Last but not least, a piece of good news, the Italian water movement has achieved a major victory. It has managed to keep out water of the privatisation drive that the Italian government has put in motion (what is the sequence here?) since the letter from the European Central Bank and Commissioner Rehn had been sent to the newly appointed Italian "technical" government. We congratulate our Italian colleagues on this success and we hope that is a prelude of the water European Citizens Initiative that EPSU is planning to launch in April.