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Economists launch alternative European rescue plan

A new European Progressive Economists Network has launched a radical plan to rescue the Continent from austerity and the terror of finance with a democratic and green model of development that brings the banks under social control and promotes public services.

The network includes Belgium’s Econosphères, Spain’s Econonuestra, France’s Economistes Atterrés and Italy’s Sbilanciamoci! and a number of multi-national campaigns including Euromemorandum and Another Road for Europe, which includes the UK’s New Economics Foundation and the international group Attac.

Here’s the proposals:

1) Austerity policies should be reversed and the drastic ‘adjustment’ conditions for countries receiving emergency funds in Europe, from Greece, must be radically revised. Dangerous limits on public finances imposed by the EU fiscal compact should be removed, so that states can defend public spending, welfare, incomes, allowing Europe to take a stronger role in stimulating demand, promoting full employment and starting a new model of sustainable and equitable development. European policies should reduce the current imbalances in the balance of payments, forcing the rebalancing even surplus countries.

2) Europe needs to adopt policies of redistribution, reducing inequality,  harmonizing tax regimes, putting an end to tax competition, with a shift of taxation from labour towards profits and wealth. European policies should promote public services and social protection. Employment and collective bargaining must be defended; labour rights are a key element of democratic rights in Europe.

3) In the face of the financial crisis in Europe – marked by the interaction between the banking crisis and public debt – the European Central Bank should act as a lender of last resort for government bonds. The public debt problem must be solved with the eurozone taking joint responsibility, and debt must be assessed through a public audit.

4) Finance must be radically downsized, through a tax on financial transactions, the elimination of speculative activities and control on the movement of capital. The financial system should be subject to forms of social control and transformed in a way that promotes sustainable productive investment from a social, environmental and employment point of view.

5) A profound ‘ecological transition’ may offer a way out of the crisis in Europe. Europe must reduce its carbon footprint and use of energy and natural resources. Policies should encourage new ways of producing and consuming. A major investment programme that will promote sustainability can offer high-quality jobs, expand expertise in innovative fields and broaden the scope for action at the local level, especially on common [public] goods.

6) In Europe, democracy must be extended to all levels. The European Union must be reformed.  The trend towards concentration of power in the hands of a few states and institutions outside democratic control has exacerbated by the crisis. This must be reversed to achieve greater citizen participation, a greater role for the European Parliament, and a more meaningful democratic control over key decisions.

European policies must change course and an alliance of civil society, trade unions, movements and progressive political forces is required to bring Europe out of the crisis produced by neoliberalism and finance, and towards a true democracy.

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