Danish EU presidency plans are 'neo-liberal drivel'
by Søren Søndergaard
The six-month Danish EU presidency programme 'reads like a Merkozy pamphlet' focused on austerity and degraded public services – claims MEP
The new Danish government presented an 18,000-word document called "Europe at work" as a programme for its European Union presidency. This week, in the European Parliament debate on the programme, I reminded Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt that her government won the September elections with a commitment to invest to overcome the crisis, rather than engage in harsh austerity. To exit the crisis by creating jobs, not destroying jobs. In fact, prior to the beginning of the Danish presidency, one could have been forgiven for being optimistic about the prospects for a real solution to the crisis being finally presented by an EU presidency, rather than ever more suicidal austerity.
The programme of the Danish presidency, however, reads like a Merkozy pamphlet. There is a lot of feel-good language, little talk of investment - but much of the same neo-liberal drivel we have all heard a thousand times before. They say they represent a responsible, dynamic, green and safe Europe and yet maintain the same policies that will worsen the crisis, lead to more unemployment and devastate so many communities across Europe. Shamefully, youth unemployment alone already stands at more than 20 per cent in 18 EU member states.
A series of EU-dictated cuts have degraded public services, reduced salaries and wreaked havoc on economies. However, this approach is being advocated by a government that promised something different - a government that once seemed ready to produce the economic and social policy needed in Europe today. Unfortunately, it is not only in the field of economic policy that we continue to see a total stifling of imagination. The presidency's plans are near silent on human rights issues. The EU has a fundamental problem in the export of weapons and instruments of torture from member states to a whole range of tyrannical regimes. After the Arab spring, and a year in which European weapons were used by non-democratic regimes against activists campaigning for human rights, it seems surprising that human rights don't feature more prominently on the agenda.
But just as democracy must be defended and fought for outside of the EU, the example of Hungary shows that basic rights are under constant attack within Europe and those in power must treat very seriously any moves towards authoritarianism and human rights violations on this continent. The issue of transparency and democracy will also be central for my group during this presidency. Unfortunately, little information is available in the presidency programme regarding the intentions on this issue. The elimination of MEPs - the only elected representatives at European level - from talks on the establishment of a fiscal union is an absolute disgrace. Although our group is against the agreement, a transparent process with the full involvement of parliament and the people - like referenda - must be the only way to make such cardinal changes to the constitutional architecture of the EU.
Over the next six months, the left will be pushing the Danes to take concrete measures to combat the casino capitalism that led to the crisis and work for a political construction that puts needs before profit and ensures that taxpayers do not have to foot the bill for wild market speculation. European politicians should stop serving big businesses and start serving the people. As I told Helle Thorning Schmidt this week, her presidency has six months to prove that it can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
Søren Søndergaard MEP is a member of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group in the European Parliament
This is very right. Why did they say one thing to get elected and win the government and then another when they are in power in Europe? Most people vote for change and get the same. I hope Denmark shows new possibilities for the EU but I am not sure it will happen.
tomas yousson - Denmark