Van Bommel: No EU penalty for a progressive social programme

8 January 2010

Van Bommel: No EU penalty for a progressive social programme

The Spanish government, which took over the rotating European Union presidency on 1st January, wants the European Commission to be given immediate powers to force the member states to pursue specified economic policies, a matter currently subject only to voluntary agreement. According to SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel, national parliamentary spokesman on European affairs, such a move would threaten to hand the EU the power to force national governments to follow neoliberal policies. “The EU presidency wants to see an economic growth rate of 2% and the power to punish countries which don't do enough to achieve this goal. It shows that neoliberalism is alive and well and living in the European Union. This proposal must be drowned at birth.”

Harry van BommelDuring the next few months the EU must decide on policies to succeed the Lisbon Strategy, the failed agreement reached in 2000 which would have seen Europe's economy becoming the most competitive in the world by this year. The obsession with economic growth meant the introduction of competition, during the decade which has just ended, into the energy and postal sectors, while member states were urged to make their labour markets more flexible. “The Lisbon Strategy provoked a great deal of resistance and partly for that reason to a large extent failed,” says Van Bommel. “But instead of changing it by introducing a socially progressive programme, what they're doing is taking a creative look at what the EU can do to stretch its powers to put pressure on the member states. In the SP's view, we'll either have a socially progressive EU or no EU at all.”

Van Bommel has asked the government to give its reaction to the Spanish presidency's proposals, urging them at the same time to have the plans rejected as soon as possible.

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