Europe’s left alternative
The EuroMemo group (Economists for an Alternative Economic Policy in Europe) coordinates an impressive network of socialist and other progressive economists across Europe. It has been in the forefront of the debate about the crisis in the eurozone and in arguing for a radical change in the economic policy pursued by European Union governments.
Unlike many on the left, the group refuses to be restricted to purely national policy options. It insists that in an era of globalisation it is essential that the 17 countries in the eurozone and the 27 wider EU states integrate their economic and social policies far more closely, not least to influence the future evolution of the global capitalist system.
In its latest annual report, EuroMemo confronts the current debt crisis head on and spells out some fundamental changes in policy that the labour movement and other progressive forces should fight for at a European level. Among the proposals are:
- Cancellation of part of the debts of the poorer ‘peripheral’ EU countries, with decisions about which debts are legitimate to be determined by public debt audits of the type pioneered in Ecuador. In all EU member states with debt above 60 per cent of GDP, a significant transfer of wealth should be achieved through a wealth tax. Larger private incomes of €250,000 and above should be taxed at a marginal rate of about 75 per cent.
- Speculation on financial markets against weaker economies should be countered by the EU issuing ‘eurobonds’ guaranteed by all EU states.
- The creation of a European finance ministry and a much expanded EU budget.
- A ‘common fiscal policy’ to promote full employment rather than austerity.
- A coordinated European wages policy, with wages rising at the rate of growth of productivity and an allowance for inflation.
- A reduction in stages of the working week to 30 hours and a European minimum incomes policy.
- A deliberate reduction in the size and influence of the financial sector.
- Far greater regulation of the financial services sector and the introduction of a financial transaction tax and publicly owned ratings agencies.
- Re-establishment of the essential role of public services, notably health services and early child care.
- Institution of ‘public-citizen partnerships’ in place of ‘public-private partnerships’.
This gives no more than a taste of a substantial and rich analysis of both the present crisis and the kind of European response the left should be fighting for. More information: www.euromemo.eu