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Thursday, 31 May 2012 07:26

No austerity without representation!

In 1760, British citizens from the Thirteen Colonies coined the slogan: "No taxation without representation." They were unhappy with the economic measures implemented by their Parliament without having a political voice in return. Are European citizens echoing this message today?

Brussels seems to have interpreted the latest election results in Greece, France and Northern Westphalia as a rejection of austerity. But even if the economy remains the main concern, I believe the main message to be heard is political.

After all, if the economy was the only electoral key and we took votes as a referendum for or against austerity, would the massive voting of conservatives in Spain have meant that citizens supported the austerity measures later implemented? Hardly believable considering that one of PP's main campaign videos (and promises) claimed: "jobs are the priority."

This being the case, is there any common message being sent by these voters in Greece, France, Germany, Spain and other countries? It is general discontent. On the one hand, for fake promises on the national level, and on the other, because EU officials have failed to make citizens understand the need for austerity. The result? A quasi revival of the years of enlightened despotism, where "everything is for the people, but without the people." 

Published in Brussels Bubble
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 09:04

Good Reads 05/06/12

Each week, two E&M editors share their favourite European reads. From blog posts to essays, it can be anything that amused them, worried them or got them thinking about Europe.

matt

Matt, Sixth Sense Editor

Günter Grass on Israel and Europe

Famed German author Günter Grass was banned from Israel a few months ago for writing a poem which attacked both Israel's policy towards Iran and Germany's plan to sell submarines to them. 'What must be said' remains an interesting case for what "can" and "can't" but should be said about Israel, Palestine, and Iran.

You may have missed a more recent publication by Grass called "Europe's shame" in the Suddeutsche Zeitung this month. Less opaque than "What must be said", I'll leave the interpretation of the poem in your hands. Here's a short description if you don't trust google translate. Let us hope his final line does not come to pass - "You will waste away spiritlessly without the country whose spirit, Europe, conceived you."

Grexodus

Grass brings me to the Grexodus (or more commonly termed the ‘Grexit’), and the words of the Ancient Greek tragedian Aeschylus have increasingly resonated in my thoughts. One quote from Agamemnon in particular seems to offer some insight into the current dilemma. Between sacrificing his daughter or failing in his deep (but also beneficial) commitments, Agammemnon, the ancient king of Mycenae, faces an impossible decision, "Pain both ways and what is worse? Desert the fleets, fail the alliance?" Anyway, the play is well worth a read. Equally, Germany's early speculative alternative to the austerity package and Grexit deserves a read.

Don't know your fiscal pact from your 'big bazooka'? Read this excellent and clear article from the European Council of Foreign Relations. Then tackle 'Europe after the Crisis' (Sorry, it's behind a paywall). Any student of Europe will know the name Moravcsik. I've never been a huge fan of his, but this article is one of the best I've read on the overarching problem inherent in the Eurozone. And this approach, a restatement of causes seems to me somewhat unhelpful when trying to figure out how to save (or otherwise dismantle) the Eurozone. Surely, we're past all of that pointing of fingers? At least in approach, this article seems to get it right, and by framing the problem as Saving the Euro without losing the Europeans is much more constructive.

Published in Good Reads
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