Budget fetishism may be losing ground in Brussels

16 January 2013

Budget fetishism may be losing ground in Brussels

For the first time since the onset of the financial crisis, Brussels seems to be taking a step back from budget fetishism. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong notes with approval that the European Parliament has at last acknowledged, albeit cautiously, that Europe cannot escape the crisis with austerity measures alone. ‘Even right wing hardliners have been forced to recognise that the ongoing austerity policy has thrown the economy deeper into crisis. Today’s acknowledgement of the importance of public investments and social provisions to address shocks in the economy is a tardy but significant turnaround in the approach to the crisis.’ In the SP’s view the motion represents an important signal to our Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem and his colleagues that a different economic policy must be put on the agenda. It was accompanied, moreover, by the announcement by European Commission President Jose Barroso that he intends to propose a social investment programme.

The European Parliament’s resolution, however, continues in other ways to cling to a discredited policy, the SP argues. The European Parliament remains, for example, wedded to support for interference by the Commission in the socio-economic policy of the member states. ‘Europe is still suffering from a mania for meddling and continues too often to think in terms of one-size-fits-all solutions. It’s a shame to see the European Parliament still failing to understand that offering flexibility to the member states would be a good thing, for example that the Netherlands’ unique pensions system can be better assessed in the Netherlands than in Brussels.'

As a result of increasing popular resistance in the member states to the ever-growing mania in Brussels for such meddling, De Jong expects eventual adjustments to opinion in the European Parliament. ‘If this doesn’t happen soon,’ warns De Jong, ‘then the voters have in any case the chance in the European elections in May next year to elect a more socially-minded Parliament.’

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