Nicosia, September 24, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Neokles Sylikiotes – Member of the European Parliament with AKEL and Vice-Chair of GUE/NGL
A latest research report by OXFAM, the global NGO that deals with the measurement of poverty, titled “A Europe for the many, not the few” presents research findings on poverty in Europe. The statistics of the research are staggering, as is routine unfortunately in recent years. In 2008 the number of European citizens living below the poverty was 116 million. Today, 7 years on, it stands at 123 million Europeans and if austerity policies continue it is estimated that this figure will rise by a further 15-25 million by 2025. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of European citizens that couldn’t afford heating or couldn’t pay for unexpected expenses increased from 7.5 million to 50 million.
Research results are inextricably tied up with the neoliberal austerity policies and memoranda which apply both the ruling circles of Brussels and their fellows in the Member State of the EU. It is no coincidence that the same report information on the redistribution of wealth in Europe is presented, showing that 1% of the European population owns 1/3 of its wealth. It is also not coincidental that long term unemployment in Cyprus reached a record level of 7.7% in 2014, or that so-called “labor cost” – (mainly meaning wages) in Cyprus fell sharply by 1.2% in the second quarter of 2015 while employers’ contributions to social security funds decreased 1.3%.
All of the above are neither natural law not the way to social development. It is unfortunately the recovery proclaimed by the elite circles of the EU and their fellows here in Cyprus. The framework of economic governance and the European semester, which translates in memorandum-dictated tough austerity, provides the appropriate legal framework for deregulation of the labor market, dismantling the welfare state, de-industrialization and forced redistribution of wealth where memoranda are applied. The results we have in Cyprus are fully comparable with the corresponding results in Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Greece, countries that imposed memoranda and neoliberal austerity policies. The crisis deepens and the social fabric is torn apart. Moreover, the IMF, which participates in the troika is the one that first applied the same neoliberal policies in Latin America and Africa with well-known catastrophic results.
It is therefore necessary that the EU changes its course, towards a Europe of solidarity, social justice, social development and peace. That can only occur through the strengthening of the Left. The organized struggle through trade unions and mass movements with Left-wing parties as pioneers in Europe is what will give a voice to working people, the long term unemployed, the young and poor pensioners. This participation is what will bring about the overthrow of prevalent EU policieswhich are in the interests of big monopolistic groups and to the detriment of workers and peoples. We are required to decisively assert the reduction of sovereign debt either through re-negotiation or through write-off, to continue debating the present and future of the eurozone, and to submit our proposals for the boosting of public investment, the reindustrialization of the countries of the South and the strengthening of the welfare state and the role of the state in general. Otherwise it is very likely that the next annual report of Oxfam will find us again in the same situation or even worse.