EPSU: Report on Austerity and Human Rights Council of Europe is a damning verdict on Barroso Commission

Excerpt report HumanRights
(5 December 2013) The Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe published a report Safeguarding Human Rights in times of Economic Crisis that makes clear in great detail how the EU's austerity policies are socially unjust, impact hardest on the poorest in society and in general erode the social and economic rights of people.

"This report is a 55 page long verdict on the policies of the Barroso Commission which have been designed to have long-term implications directed against the welfare state, the European social model and Europe's working people", says EPSU's Deputy General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan. "As the European Commission says it takes its decisions collectively all Commissioners share responsibility. All of them are defending these policies. None of them should come back after the European Parliament elections in May 2014. We need a clean start and a new group committed to social justice, jobs and public services, in other words a future that gives people confidence in the European Union. "

He adds: "The report confrms EPSU's analysis, and supports our research, Red Cross , European Anti-poverty network and many others."

The report is a damning verdict on the policies the Commission, corporate interests, the conservative parties and governments have pursued.

The Human rights Commissioner argues that the cuts in public expenditure and selective tax hikes aimed at curbing public deficits have not achieved their aims. He agrees with the EPSU analysis that the public deficits are the consequence of saving the banks with public money. The 4.5 trillion EUR used for this between 2008-2011 are in stark contrast with the money made available to address unemployment and the increasing poverty in Europe. And people have been denied their say in the design of the policies.

This Commissioner is extremely critical of a new law in Spain that curbs the right to demonstrate and imposes draconian fines. He also condemns the violence that has been used against anti-austerity protesters, many union members among them.

The European Commission has refused to comment on the situation and the law. Like an earlier ILO study on the impact of austerity on public services, he notes the long-term consequences this has on societies as the very promise of social welfare states that deliver social protection is undermined. The Commissioner ends his report with a series of recommendations such that policies need to be accompanied by a human rights and equality impact assessment. One of these recommendations is:

For more information on the background to the report and the issue of the Spanish law see

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