• Public Debt and Austerity Policies in Europe. The Response of the European Left

  • Von Haris Golemis | 13 Mar 11
  • Report of an International Conference in Athens, 10-12 March 2011

    Facing the coordinated efforts of the ruling political and social powers in the EU to enforce an exit from the crisis based on the smashing of the dominated classes in all member countries, the forces of the political and social European Left have to supplement their national resistances and programmatic proposals with a coordination on a European level. The Conference entitled “Public Debt and Austerity Policies in Europe. The Response of the European Left”,organized by transform! europe, Nicos Poulantzas Institute and the Party of the European Left – Synaspismos, aimed at assisting exactly this effort. The slogan of the Conference was “United we fight. United we win”.

    According to the claims of the European conservative and social democratic governments, as well as EU and international institutions, a ghost is haunting Europe, the ghost of public debt. One should not, of course, expect that these entities realize that debt is only the manifestation of the systemic capitalist crisis, but the mere fact that the PIGS stopped being the only danger for the euro-zone is an interesting development. The result of this is that the harsh austerity measures imposed on Greece and Ireland to confront the ghost and calm the rating agencies and the markets are now extended to the entire EU, through the imposition of the so called “Competitiveness Pact”, recently renamed to “Pact for the Euro”.

    The conference was attended by hundreds of people, from 10.00 in the morning to 10.30 in the evening and it was transmitted live on various websites, among them the sites of transform! europe and of the European Left. The opening event attracted around 800 people, while the closing event was a full house, attended by more than 1,000 people. Participants in this last event were Francis Wurtz, former President of GUE/NGL (he presented the EL-Initiative for a European Development and Solidarity Fund), Pierre Laurent, the National Secretary of PCF and President of the EL, Oskar Lafontaine, the former Co-President of Die LINKE and Alexis Tsipras, President of Synaspismos and Vice-President of the EL. In his speech, Tsipras suggested that the EL should demand a referendum in all European countries for the new Pact for the Euro.

    The Conference, which took place in Athens on 10-12 March 2011, was a really successful mega-event. For two days and three evenings (over 25 hours), 60 participants from 12 EU-countries and Ecuador examined various issues related to the debt crisis: causes, EU and governments’ policies, resistances (mainly in the PIGS) and radical proposals for a European exit from the crisis. Participants included academics, economists, sociologists, experts on debt, trade-unionists, MPs, MEPs, leaders and cadres of Radical Left, Communist, Left Socialist and Green political parties. In two special sessions on Facets of the Greek Crisis, about ten Greek speakers from various Greek parties, parties’ tendencies and political groups had the opportunity to present their different views.

    Programme 

    Thursday, 10 March 2011

    Opening of the conference

    Coordinator: Rena Dourou, member of the Secretariat of Synaspismos

    Dimitris Vitsas, Secretary of the Central Committee of Synaspismos

    Nikos Petralias, President of the Nicos Poulantzas Institut

    Public event

    Yannis Dragasakis, economist, former-MP of SYRIZA

    Francois Delapierre, General Secretary of Parti de Gauche-France

    Pedro Paez, economist, Banco del Sur, former Minister of Ecuador

    Jose Luis Centella, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain

    Michael Schlecht, MP, Chief economist of the Parliamentarian Group of DIE LINKE in the German “Bundestag”

    Friday, 11 March 2011

    Consequences of the Crisis in Europe

    Michel Vakaloulis, sociologist, Professor at University Paris VIII, France

    Maria Karamessini, economist, Associate Professor at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, DYNAMO-European Research Group

    Birgit Mahnkopf, Professor of European Politics at the Berlin School of Economics and Law

    Causes of the Debt Crisis in the Euro-Zone

    Brigitte Unger, economist, Professor at Utrecht University School of Economics (USE)

    George Stathakis, economist, Professor at the University of Crete

    Dimitris Sotiropoulos, economist, University of Aegean

    The EU-Policies of Crisis Management

    Coordinator: Elena Papadopoulou, researcher, NPI

    Nicos Houndis, MEP, SYRIZA Greece, GUE-NGL

    Stephen Gill, Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science, York University, Toronto

    Thodoros Paraskevopoulos, economist, collaborator of the Parliamentary Group of SYRIZA

    Facets of the Crisis in Greece (1)

    Coordinator: Sissy Velissariou, Professor at Athens University, Vice President of NPI

    Panagiotis Lafazanis, MP, SYRIZA

    Alexis Mitropoulos, Associate professor at the University of Athens, Regional councilor of Attica  

    Yannis Mpanias, member of the secretariat of AKOA, ex-MP of SYRIZA

    Dimitris Papahristos, independent MP

    Facets of the Crisis in Greece (2)

    Nikos Kotzias, political scientist, Professor at the University of Piraeus

    George Maniatis, Professor of Mass Media, University of Athens

    John Milios, Professor at the National Technical University, responsible of Economic Policy at the Secretariat of Synaspismos

    Dimitris Papadimoulis, MP of SYRIZA, former MEP

    Sofia Sakorafa, independent MP

    Saturday, 12 March 2011

    Resistances by the European Trade Unions and Movements

    Coordinator: Yannis Mpournous, member of the EL Executive Committee

    Nassos Iliopoulos, Secretary of the Youth of Synaspismos

    Alekos Kalivis, trade-unionist, ex-Alternate President of GSEE

    Dominique Gianotti, trade-unionist, FSU-France

    Italian trade-unionist

    Irish trade-unionist

    Debt Crisis and Austerity Policies in the European Continent

    Coordinator: Natassa Theodorakopoulou, member of the EL Executive Committee

    Mary Lou McDonald, Vice-President of Sinn Fein, Ireland (tbc)

    Tamás Morva, economist, member of the Secretariat of the Hungarian Workers Party 2006

    Marianna Mortagua, economist, Bloco de Esquerda, Portugal

    Javier Navasquez, University of Seville, Secretary of the Committee of Financial Affairs of PCE

    For a Progressive Exit from the Crisis (1)

    Coordinator: Gabriel Sakellaridis, member of NPI Secretariat

    Elisabeth Gauthier, Director of Espaces Marx, member of the Managing Board of transform! europe

    Marica Frangakis, economist, EuroMemo Group

    Eric Toussaint, President of the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM)

    Michalis Tremopoulos, MEP of the Greens, European Green Party

    For a Progressive Exit from the Crisis (2)

    Coordinator: Ruurik Holm, Legal Representative of transform! europe

    Yannis Varoufakis, economist, Professor at the University of Athens

    Kostas Vergopoulos, Professor of Political Economy, University Paris VIII

    Euclid Tsakalotos, economist, Professor at the University of Athens

    Elmar Altvater, political scientist, member of ATTAC Germany

    Public Event

    Coordinator: Haris Golemis, Director of NPI, member of the transform! europe Board

    EL-Initiative for a European Development and Solidarity Fund

    Francis Wurtz, ex-President of GUE-NGL, France

    Exit Strategies from the Crisis. The Proposals of the European Left

    Pierre Laurent, National Secretary PCF, President of the EL

    Oskar Lafontaine, ex-Minister of Finance, ex co-President of DIE LINKE, Germany

    Alexis Tsipras, President of Synaspismos, Vice President of the EL