Far from being a unifying force the euro has turned out to be a dividing one, breaking down social and democratic rights, writes Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer.
At the start of December 2010, the leaders of 10 European countries came to Maastricht to overhaul Europe. The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union and a steady move towards complete economic, monetary and political union was started.
The Maastricht Treaty became solely about budget deficit numbers and national debt numbers. Countries ruled by these numbers are being forced to lower public spending, limit wages and strangle the post-war welfare state. The present EU rules are a straightjacket for countries who favour a social policy.
Most people in the Netherlands see a mutual advantage to cooperation with other European countries. But they don’t like to be dictated to. That is why the SP wants to change course in Europe. The European Union is due another overhaul. We want a new kind of cooperation, a new Europe no longer ruled by Brussels and in which member states control their own budgets and have the freedom to instigate policies which put people first instead of bankers and multinationals.
Mutually advantageous cooperation means that we tackle the problems caused by labour migration. The Netherlands has half a million unemployed. Meanwhile foreign workers from countries such as Poland are being exploited in all kinds of surreptitious ways, far away from their families and working for a pittance.
They are often crammed too many to a room in homes in run-down neighbourhoods. The government misses out some €1.5bn in taxes and premiums. Who profits? It’s companies and employment agencies whose earnings model is based on exploitation.
We say down with the race to the bottom. Wages should go up instead of down and unemployment must be tackled in the interest of workers here and abroad.
A new Europe needs an alternative to the euro. It is time to put an end to the mad adventure of forcing countries into a monetary one-size-fits-all while the financial markets are free to operate in any way they like.
At the time of the Maastricht Treaty the SP warned that a single currency could only be the result of a broadly supported unification process. Now it has been forced our throats top down. Far from being a unifying force the euro has turned out to be a dividing one, a sledgehammer breaking down social and democratic rights.
We want European cooperation. But we want an end to the meddling from Brussels and the insidious move towards a European super state in which multinationals have free reign and citizens find themselves increasingly powerless.
This column was published earlier in the AD