Council of Europe launches investigation into effects of credit crisis

4 December 2008

Council of Europe launches investigation into effects of credit crisis

SP Senator Tiny Kox, chair of the United Left Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), is pleased with the announcement that an enquiry will be launched into the credit crisis. The assembly, which consists of parliamentarians from every European country, is extremely concerned about the consequences of the crisis for the citizens of the Council of Europe member states and of the rest of the world.

It is widely recognised that the financial crisis and its economic consequences represent a threat to the fundamentals of democracy. It is worrying that the recently announced action plan of the G20 countries says nothing about people's social and economic rights in times of crisis.

Tiny Kox “The current crisis is leading more to tough confrontations between Council of Europe member states than to well thought-out cooperation," says Senator Kox. "It's rather a case of 'every man for himself and Devil take the hindmost'. Look at the way that the UK misused its anti-terrorism laws to deal with Icelandic banks and the Icelandic government, contributing to the total collapse of the country's financial sector. And together with Germany and the Netherlands, the British then pressured Iceland into accepting the IMF's aggressive reorganisation measures in exchange for desperately needed credit. Yet in the meantime both the UK and the Netherlands are maintaining their own measures to combat the crisis. Banks don't trust each other, governments even less so. Everyone is trying to save their own skin instead of working together to find solutions. This is a very bad approach. We are seeing a complete lack of international solidarity.”

The Council of Europe's stepping in to investigate the crisis is, Kox argues, perfectly appropriate in view of the threat its consequences could pose to fundamental human rights such as the right to work, to an income and to social security. In many countries a rapid rise in unemployment is looming and purchasing power is under pressure. "Human rights are the Council of Europe's central interest," Kox points out. "It is important that both in each separate country and on the European level we look into what has gone wrong, who is responsible for this and how we can find a way out of the crisis together.” He notes in addition the convergence of the financial crisis with the food, energy and security crises, a convergence which he describes as "unique and extremely dangerous."

Representatives of PACE have been meeting during the last few days in Madrid. For six months from the beginning of the year Spain will take the presidency of the Council of Europe, and the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs attended the meeting to underline the organisation's importance for human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe, especially in time of crisis. Reacting to the minister's statement, Senator Kox urged him to match his words with deeds. "You have formulated a number of fine goals," Kox said. Referring however to the recent sale of a leading Dutch footballer to the host city's biggest club, the SP Senator pointed out that "Real Madrid paid more for Wesley Sneijder than Spain spends in its entirety on the Council of Europe. Your not the only country which praises and values our work but then keeps its money in its pocket or would rather hand it over to the European Union. Things can't go on like that."

You are here