In Europe too, the ordinary citizen must pay for the crisis

17 September 2009

In Europe too, the ordinary citizen must pay for the crisis

17/09/09 Today, the European Parliament expressed its agreement with the reappointment of the Portuguese conservative Jose Barroso as President of the European Commission, with 382 votes in favour, 219 against and 117 abstentions. The SP voted against.

Dennis de Jong by Dennis de Jong

The fact that there was in the end a majority in the European Parliament in favour of Barroso was certainly no reflection on his performance during the plenary debate on his reappointment. More than ever he made it clear that he retains his belief in the market, though you might expect that he would have learnt something from the current economic crisis. But no, according to Barroso the cause of this crisis does not lie in the economic system - it simply blew over from America. In common with the Dutch government, Barroso called for cuts in spending, so that ordinary people would have to take responsibility for the consequences of a crisis for which not they, but rather the money-grabbing bankers and corporate executives were the cause.

For these reasons a vote against from the social democrats, to which the Dutch PvdA (Labour Party) in the European Parliament belong, would appear more than likely, Instead, their Chairman Martin Schulz announced that his advice to MEPs from his group was that they abstain, advice which most of them followed. The liberals, conservatives and Christian democrats voted for, and the Greens and the United European Left group, including the SP, voted against.

With Barroso we can expect more of the same: a neoliberal tone from Brussels with a great deal of emphasis on the free market. Social rights, or the protection of public services, will take a back seat. Barroso made it clear that he saw little to recommend in, for example, a protocol on social progress demanded by the trade union movement, in which social rights would be given a much more important place. Recent judgements from the European Court of Justice have put these social rights under pressure when it comes to the establishment of foreign corporations. What's at stake in that instance is the right of employees to be employed under the same conditions as as workers in other firms and even the right to strike.

In the European Parliament the SP will be keeping up the fight against the old and new neoliberal ideas of Barroso and his yet-to-be- formed team.

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