Tens of thousands march against destructive ‘austerity’ policies

15 March 2013

Tens of thousands march against destructive ‘austerity’ policies

'Fire the Troika, not the workers’ was one of the many slogans which could be heard yesterday on the demonstration against the European Union’s destructive policies. Tens of thousands of people from numerous EU member states joined the action in Brussels on the day that heads of EU governments gathered in Brussels for a meeting of the European Council. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and a a range of social organisations organised the demo to demand jobs instead of a policy of continual spending cuts. The SP was present to express the party’s solidarity with the activists. ‘The fetish for spending cuts has merely ensured that ever more people are losing their jobs and that because of this the economy just gets even worse,’ says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong. ‘It’s high time for a change of policy to one which will help us get out of this eurocrisis.’

SP European group staff member Ben van Gils on the demonstration

After the demonstration a hundred or so participants made their way to the office of European Commissioner Ollie Rehn, which had been briefly occupied by dozens of activists. When they left after agreeing with the police that they would so, thirty were arrested in an action which went against undertakings by the police. As one activist, Pascoe Sabido put it, ‘The police would do better to arrest the representatives of the Troika – they’re the real criminals.’

Growing taste for action

The SP is pleased to see the growing preparedness to take action for a different, more social Europe. 'This is a hopeful sign that people won’t put up with this policy any longer,’ says De Jong. ‘Together with these people we will continue in both Brussels and The Hague to fight for a social Europe.’

The demonstration was held in the runup to the European Council which amongst other things will discuss strengthening EU surveillance of national budgetary deficits. The SP’s view is that what is needed to overcome the crisis is timely investment in the economy rather than a blind obsession with deficits, as Dennis de Jong explains: 'More and more economists are on our side in this because spending cuts have an adverse effect on economic growth. It’s time Europe’s leaders also came to understand this.’

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