aimless europe

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Europe continues to support the conditions that make progressive policies unfeasible in the different countries that comprise it

President Joe Biden's announcement that he will launch a new investment package in the United States worth US$1,8 trillion, and the possibility that his government will temporarily suspend patents on vaccines against the coronavirus show again that Europe it has lost its way and is definitely falling behind.

The new plan that has just been announced – a month after another project, worth 2 trillion dollars, dedicated to infrastructure works – will be aimed at developing high quality child care, allowing families to pay an amount commensurate with their income. , finance paid sick leave, establish universal and free preschooling, and meet the food needs of low-income children, among other family policy objectives. A new injection of spending than previous initiatives, such as the 4,3 trillion dollars already programmed for legislative (3,8 trillion) and administrative (half a trillion) actions, in addition to the 2,9 trillion dollars withdrawn from the 6,8 trillion pledged to the Federal Reserve. And one cannot even think of seeing this as a waste, taking into account that, according to Harvard experts such as David M. Cutler and Lawrence H. Summers, the total cost of the pandemic in the United States would be 16 trillion dollars.

There is no comparison possible with what the European Union is doing. The Old Continent is lagging behind, not only in the number of stimuli approved in the face of the crisis, but also in the agility in putting them into practice and in the principles that guide the action of the rulers, as shown by the Biden government by suspending vaccine patents when the big European governments bet on the opposite.

It cannot be said that Europe has not adopted exceptional measures, because it has, but with such a degree of conservatism and slowness that they have barely begun to be seen as effective. But the worst thing is that they were designed and prepared to be put into practice without taking your eyes off the rearview mirror, that is, without losing sight of the budgetary fundamentalism that so harmed the confrontation of other crises, even in periods of bonanza and growth.

The European Union has already failed in its reaction to the economic crisis of 2007-2008, when it introduced depressive cuts and adjustment measures in the midst of the recession, awkwardly causing a second relapse of activity and employment, the debt run-out, but it seems that those responsible for those mistakes they learned nothing, despite so many analyzes showing that they acted without scientific basis, influenced by ideological dogmas and erroneously interpreting the data presented to them.

The stubbornness in insisting on errors of this type has been characterizing those responsible for the European Union's economic policies, and is the result of an ideological perception of economic problems - an addiction that, in turn, results from prostration to the great economic interests consolidated by the existing lobby within of the institutions, which prevents or makes it very difficult to get out of this cycle in which they find themselves. It is as if, based on so much servility, the European Union had been immunized in the opposite way: making it impossible for the antibodies to appear that would allow changes in course and the implementation of new horizons of economic policy, which would be penetrated by new airs, capable of renewing the rules and regulations of the institution.

The European Union has never taken steps towards becoming a true monetary union. In other words, the decisions that were taken to transform it into such a structure did not comply with the requirements that we know should be adopted so that the constant imbalances and asymmetry crises that we have today do not occur. To begin with, a European farm and a common fiscal policy, with a real community budget.

Nor did it move towards a political union. Therefore, now that this is necessary, due to the pandemic, Europe cannot act in squadron order, with coordination and synergy, something always necessary when there really are common goals and which is even more essential in the midst of exceptional circumstances, like the one we are living.

The European Union is not even a democracy, and that means that there are no checks and balances, that the institutions function as escape routes for each other and not as stabilization and mutual control mechanisms. What is the use of the European Parliament if it does not have effective control over the Executive, if it is not capable of enforcing what is required of it? Who controls the European Commission (the body that functions as the bloc's executive branch) if it is constituted on the basis of abnormal balances that create forced complicity between the broader parliamentary groups?

Economic policy is subject to capricious stability rules, which are ignored for convenience or by non-financing impositions by the European Central Bank on governments it considers “rebellious” – decisions that must be circumvented through the back door, when there is no other option. Europe does not even comply with its own rules, it uses them as a form of pressure and threat, it lives from permanent arbitrariness and without accountability. Who paid for the mistakes of the previous crisis? Which of those rules that proved to be contrary to common sense were changed?

Thus, Europe allows populism and totalitarian threats to spread, without even being able to become the democratic bastion that the most skeptical Europeanists believe it to be – and which would, at least, be the great contribution of the European Union to the contemporary world.

It is not very difficult to deduce how it is possible that all this happened, due to a process so conservative and harmful, so false and whose return has already become impossible. How did the European Union manage to fall into this trap from which it is so difficult to sprout new and progressive ideas, not in the ideological sense, but in the purely pragmatic sense, such as those emerging in the United States from the hand of Joe Biden and other leaders who are part of of that country's establishment, who cannot be considered radical or suspected of leftism?

To discover the answer, you may need to understand that none of this happens for free. The immense community machinery is nothing more than a fabulous source of revenue for large business groups and banks, because in the European Union there is no point without a knot, that is, without producing profit for those who wait for it.

Of course, this situation is supported by political leaders. The left outside socialism has never cared about Europe. It assimilated the process of European construction and continues to be present within its institutions with an exacerbated and inoperative ideologism, due to a lack of pragmatism; while European socialism, which by its size and electoral strength had a special and much more powerful role, fell victim to pragmatism, leaving all its ideological principles in tatters. That is, the interest that is left for some, lacked for others.

Last March, the Belgian sociologist Mateo Alaluf published an interesting book entitled “Le socialisme malade de la social-démocratie” (or “Socialism tired of social-democracy”), in which he shows how the socialist parties were losing weight and influence precisely when ruled in some European countries. I believe that this has a lot to do with the role of its leaders and representatives in the European institutions, who were not just accomplices. At times, they behaved as authentic formulators of neoliberal and ideological norms that prevented their own parties from carrying out social-democratic policies in their respective countries. Socialism in Europe is killing European socialism.

Lately the same thing is happening. While there are almost no transformative and transcendent political actions on the left, the socialist group of the European Parliament is acting as a true accomplice of a manifestly incompetent, wrong and very harmful policy of the European Commission and the European Council. Instead of showing another profile and defending alternatives for progress, it is helping to create the conditions that will end what little democratic socialism is left in Europe, starting with Spain.

It is really surprising that someone like Joe Biden is showing a posture that is to the left of European socialism, being able to face dogmas that reality has shown to be more false and dangerous (even for capital itself) than a papier-mâché euro. While the leaders of the American Democratic Party (in principle much more conservative) put an end to ultraliberal policies out of pure pragmatism, the European socialists struggle to remove the decadent neoliberalism that dominates European institutions from the fire.

Experience has shown us that what the left does in Europe is not trivial or something that only has an effect outside the walls, beyond our borders. It is a determining factor in national politics, which is why it will be very difficult for progressive governments like Spain to complete their journey with even a modicum of success. I dare say that they might not survive if their respective parliamentary groups in Europe continue to support the conditions that make progress policies in different countries unfeasible.

But there is still time to rectify that.

*Juan Torres Lopez is professor of economics at the University of Seville. Author, among other books, of Basic rent (Planet).

Translation: Victor Farinelli to the portal Major Card.

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