In the midst of the Coronavirus crisis, Mario Draghi stated in the pages of the Financial Times that “whatever it takes” must be done to guarantee the future of the Eurozone. He was reaffirming a principle that has been applied by European policymakers for a long time already: absorb the private sector’s losses, even at the expense of permanently increasing the level of public debt.
In early April 2020, the European Commission repeated the announcements made by the ECB, announcing that budgetary rules would no longer be applied during the crisis. In other words, the golden rule will still be applied to citizens and austerity imposed on them, but there’s no problem suspending the rules to bail out the private sector.
Yet, as was also the case with Greece’s debt crisis in 2015, no form of financial solidarity has been put in place for those countries most in difficulty. Instead, increasing and permanent indebtedness of States, beginning with Italy and Spain, has been organized for the benefit of the banks and the financial markets.
The 750-billion-euro “emergency” plan announced by the ECB on 18 March actually consists of a program for buying up public and private debt securities, exclusively from private banks – which, added to the previous interventions, totals 1,050 billion euros, or more than 117 billion euros each month.
This program will do nothing to aid the real economy and the health sector, already stretched to the breaking point by several decades of austerity and privatisations, nor help individuals and families who have lost their income as a result of confinement measures.
The ECB is once again applying the policy of Quantitative Easing which, beginning in March 2015, provided a massive bailout for the major shareholders of the big banks – the very ones who were responsible for the debt crisis in the first place.
With no conditions attached as to what its beneficiaries could and could not do, that plan enabled banks to buy back their own shares from the major shareholders, distribute astronomical dividends, and return untrammelled to their speculative dealings.
This new wave of speculative investments resulted in a new rapid increase in indebtedness in Europe and around the world, to a record level of 322% of world GDP at the end of 2019.
But already in late 2018 several stock-market and financial shocks heralded a new crisis, of which the Coronavirus pandemic was only the detonator. The recession in the industrial sector that began as early as the second semester of 2019 in Germany, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Argentina and the US is symptomatic of that crisis.
That is why we refuse to pay the cost of their crisis once again. We demand a radical break with the policy of unconditional bailouts of banks and the private sector.
We demand that the European treaties be cancelled and replaced by treaties that put the well-being of all the people before the prosperity of investors and speculators.
Similarly we demand the cancellation of all the illegitimate debts that contribute to the subjugation of the people by finance.
We also demand that social policies and public investments accompanied by a real plan to aid Europe’s ordinary citizens be put in place.
The priority is not save the banks’ major shareholders and the major private corporations. What is urgent is to meet the financing needs of the health sector and the need to protect any individual who lacks housing, access to water, electricity, food or the income necessary for getting them.
To respond to these needs and free up the funds necessary for guaranteeing an income to those who have none, the CADTM demands a moratorium on debt repayment, including the private debts of working people, and a crisis tax on the most profitable companies and on the fortunes of the wealthiest 10%.
An immediate suspension of repayment of public debts must be combined with an audit of those debts with participation by citizens in order to identify and cancel the portion that is illegitimate.
Also, the CADTM demands that companies and/or the State ensure payment of wages to workers whose employers have suspended their activity, and also to persons in situations of precarity, temporary workers and self-employed and seasonal workers, without recovery of unworked hours or reduction of rights to paid holidays.
The State must ensure the payment of wages in cases where employers refuse to pay them, and levy fines in compensation. At the European level, the Union must require shareholders to waive their dividends for 2020. A decent income must also be paid to the unemployed, trainees and those who do not qualify for unemployment compensation.
On an emergency basis, these measures must be combined with complete stoppage of all non-essential activities; the prohibition of dismissals and the re-hiring of workers dismissed since the start of the crisis; free provision of protective equipment for all workers who are still at work; guaranteeing the legal right not to work if an employer fails to comply with safety conditions; stoppage of all evictions of tenants and suspension of payments for rent, personal loans and utility bills; provision of decent housing for all families living in sub-standard housing or homeless; immediate implementation of measures to protect women and children who are victims of domestic violence, which implies expediting decisions to force the separation of violent partners; stoppage of expulsions and immediate legalisation of undocumented immigrants and refugees and immediate access for them to all forms of social protection.
In the longer term, other measures must be taken to meet States’ needs for financing: public financing by the ECB at 0% interest to put an end to market blackmail; socialisation of the banking and insurance sectors under citizen control; radical reform of wealth and income taxation; the shutdown of tax evasion networks used by major corporations; taxation of financial transactions above a certain ceiling; cancellation of expenditures on the military and retraining of workers in that sector; expropriation of essential sectors of the economy and their placement under citizen control.
This crisis has also made clear the importance of care work to our societies, and that the overwhelming majority of care workers are women. That reality, far too often kept invisible, must be recognised and care work should be supported by the public sector.
This crisis is an opportunity to effect a real change in the rules of the game and radically change society with regard to the way we live, our attitudes toward ownership, our modes of production and our relationship with Nature, giving priority to common goods, food sovereignty and relocation of the production of goods and services, adapting our ways of working and producing so that they are compatible with the struggle against the environmental crisis.
We must plan degrowth while at the same time improving living conditions, broaden the spheres of public services, citizen oversight and democratisation to break with the society of the wealthiest 1% and build a society of the 100% that is environmentalist, socialist, self-managed, feminist and antiracist.
The CADTM Europe is made up of organisations in five countries – Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland and Luxembourg – and members in Greece, Portugal, Poland and the Spanish State. The Web site www.cadtm.org publishes articles in French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Italian and German. The worldwide CADTM network is present in more than 30 countries on four continents.
Belgium: Chiara Filoni : chiara [at] cadtm.org, +32 4 86 11 98 32
Switzerland: Juan Tortosa: juan.tortosa [at] sunrise.ch, +41 76 43 64 083
Portugal: Rui Viana Pereira: ruivianapereira [at] gmail.com, +35 19 39 32 50 78
Source : CADTM : http://www.cadtm.org/We-Won-t-Pay-for-Their-Crises-Anymore
Communiqué en français : http://www.cadtm.org/Nous-ne-paierons-plus-leurs-crises
En español: http://www.cadtm.org/Nunca-mas-pagaremos-sus-crisis
Em portugues: http://www.cadtm.org/Nao-pagaremos-as-crises-deles