BY Jimmy Kelly Irish Secretary of Unite The EU Treaty will require additional austerity over and above what the Irish Government has already announced – Budget cuts of 20 billion euro already imposed. At a minimum it will mean between €5 and €6 billion …

Andrew

BY Jimmy Kelly Irish Secretary of Unite

The EU Treaty will require additional austerity over and above what the Irish Government has already announced – Budget cuts of 20 billion euro already imposed.

At a minimum it will mean between €5 and €6 billion more in spending cuts and tax increases after 2015.

The Government has refused to engage on this issue.  They could easily have published the numbers but they won’t because they know it would be too damaging.

Ireland is already back in recession – and we’re now going to add to our burden of spending cuts and tax increases which will only reduce growth and employment even further.

BUT:  its not just Ireland.  This is a Treaty for the entire Eurozone and the EU.  With so many countries engaging in simultaneous austerity, we will see European growth rates cut.  This will not only impact on Irish exports, but on the welfare of Europe.

1. Austerity has been a failed policy from the beginning.  UNITE and the trade union movement warned the Government that if they went down the road of spending cuts and tax increases during the middle of the recession, they would drive down the economy, drive up unemployment and would not be able to repair public finances.

We were, unfortunately, proven right.  All the Fiscal Treaty will does is provide more of the same failed policies.

2. The context of the Fiscal Treaty is important:

Throughout Europe – there are 25 million people unemployed

Over 100 million live in poverty and social exclusion

In Ireland, 400,000(14%) are unemployed and over 1 million suffer deprivation experiences.

Already, the Eurozone is projected to have the lowest growth rate in the world over the next few years.  The Fiscal Treaty will cut that already low growth in half.  More unemployment, more poverty, more miserty.

In Ireland, thousands of households live in fear – of losing their homes, of facing a doctors’ bill, of losing their jobs, of not being able to provide for their children or care for their elderly relatives.

Instead of a Fiscal Treaty we need a Growth Treaty – policies and rules that will force Governments to deal with unemployment and poverty and falling living standards.  We need new sanctions – sanctions for those governments that pay back bondholders while they cut the incomes of their citizens.  We need new targets:  full employment and an end to poverty.

Look after unemployment, look after poverty and the budget will look after itself.

3. The Government has only one campaign plank:  fear.  They spread fear around the country that if we don’t pass this Treaty – we will be cut off from funding.  We will be kicked out of the Eurozone.  One right-wing commentator even said that if we vote No our banking system would collapse.  Fear of more misery, fear of isolation – beyond that the Government has nothing to say.

The fact is that all EU leaders have guaranteed that Ireland’s second bail-out will be funded regardless of the outcome of the referendum.  They gave this guarantee after the EU Treaty was agreed.  This guarantee can be vindicated through the current funding mechanism (the EFSF), the ESM and the IMF.  There are any number of vehicles.

But the fact is that EU Governments have guaranteed us continued support until we return to the markets.  They did this out of self-interest – they know that if Ireland or any country is isolated, the financial stability of the Eurozone would be put at grave risk.

The Irish Government is the only government in the EU that claims Ireland will receive no help in case it votes no.  No EU or IMF official has backed up the Government’s claim.

4. There is a progressive and democratic revolt in Europe against austerity policies.

In Prague, the largest demonstrations since the fall of Communism have been held against austerity.

In Romania, the centre-right government fell after anti-austerity protests

In Slovenia, trade unionists joined in a one-day strike against the Government’s plans to roll out spending cuts.

In Italy, trade unions are preparing for demonstrations and strikes throughout the country.

In Spain over a hundred thousand held marches throughout the country

In Greece, the recent elections produced an anti-austerity majority

In France, the people elected a new President who is demanding a renegotiation of the Fiscal Treaty.

Even in Germany, the Left won their biggest election yet in one of the largest states – on an anti-austerity platform.

Ireland has an opportunity to participate in this European wide revolt – and give it a major boost by voting No.

 

 


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