Juncker’s toxic legacy of inequality
Taking Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to task over his record at the State of the EU debate at the European Parliament this morning, GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer said he would be remembered for failing to tackle inequality and defend the rights of the majority.
In a week when the world marks the tenth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers crash which led to a decade of economic austerity, Zimmer pointed to the Greek situation as a tragic reminder of the policies pursued by the EU and the Commission:
“Are we in a position to say we’ve got over the economic crisis? Are we in a position to say we’re prepared for all the challenges of the future so that our citizens have social security and solidarity? The answer is a clear ‘no’. The response to the crisis has hit the poorest hardest, and has meant that inequality has become deeper,” she argued.
In addition, Zimmer said that years of austerity has caused untold damage to workers’ rights and social protection in the EU:
“Ten years on from the start of the financial crisis, the level of prosperity of the pre-crisis era has still not been reached with few citizens benefitting from tentative growth.”
“The rights of workers in many countries have been severely cut,” she said.
“The current Austrian EU presidency talks about a Europe that ‘protects’. But this presidency is not about a Union of social protection; rather, it’s about shutting down the external borders, turning away refugees and provoking the humanitarian catastrophes that we have seen this summer.”
“As the European Parliament, we must make it clear that the Council cannot constantly block reform of the Dublin regulation,” she continued. “No progress has been made. Activists and NGOs don’t know who they can turn to. They have no idea which EU institution is responsible for what. With such incoherence, it will be difficult to win over voters turned off by this lethargy in our fight for a Europe of solidarity,” said the German MEP.
Juncker’s announcement that an extra 10,000-strong border task force is to be recruited by 2020 also came under fire by Zimmer:
“The promised ‘social Triple A’ is degenerating into a ‘Triple A for military armament’. It cannot be the case that the EU takes money away from the budget on social funding and uses it for militarisation.”
“As the Left, we stand for a clear alternative path for European integration that is in opposition to the right-wing who are doing their best to destroy Europe,” she concluded.