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Policy news & blueprints for the transition to a new Sustainable and Social Economy
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Faut-il faire sauter Bruxelles ?

Faut-il faire sauter Bruxelles ? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"Donc oui, il faut « faire sauter » (je dirais : refonder radicalement) ces institutions qui sont des dénis de démocratie et qui ont été mises en place justement pour cela : tenir les citoyens à l’écart, comme c’est à nouveau le cas aujourd’hui avec le projet de grand marché transatlantique sur lequel je me suis déjà exprimé. Mais je ne crois pas qu’on les fera sauter plus aisément si on présente l’histoire et le présent sous l’angle unilatéral d’un rouleau compresseur néolibéral qui emporte tout sur son passage en ne suscitant aucune résistance interne, aucune décision politique où « Bruxelles » fait parfois mieux (dans le bon sens) que notre gouvernement actuel. Ce qui n’est pas un exploit, certes, mais amène à penser que ce n’est pas seulement « Bruxelles » qu’il faut « faire sauter », mais, tout autant, des verrous nationaux qui ne sont pas moins nocifs. "

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Excellent review by French economist Jean Gadrey of a critical book about the European Union.

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Susan George on the secret capitalist cabal behind European austerity

Susan George on the secret capitalist cabal behind European austerity | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The How to Win the Class War satirist tells Claire Provost about the 'shadowy plot' to claw back working-class gains
Willy De Backer's insight:

Satire or reality? Does it matter? When the history books will be written in 100 years, who cares?

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Shredded Social Safety Net: European Austerity Costing Lives

Shredded Social Safety Net: European Austerity Costing Lives | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
As the euro crisis wears on, the tough austerity measures implemented in ailing member states are resulting in serious health issues, a study revealed on Wednesday.
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How the EU's austerity policies is leading to more suicides, mental illness and increased epidemics. Spiegel report based on scientific article in The Lancet.

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Democracy in a state of emergency: Greece, the EU and the Eurozone debt crisis

Democracy in a state of emergency: Greece, the EU and the Eurozone debt crisis | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

Good article in Open Democracy on how this European Union is using the sovereign debt crisis as an excuse to shed of the last illusions of it being a democratic and social project for its citizens.

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A Modest Proposal from Berlin: End Democracy in the European Union

A Modest Proposal from Berlin: End Democracy in the European Union | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"The Fiscal Pact mandates that all national governments in the European Union should achieve a “structural deficit” of no more than 0.5 percent of gross domestic product. I shall not again demonstrate that this concept is nonsense and, even were it not, 0.5 percent would be absurd, implying continuously deflationary fiscal policy. If the Pact is foolish, combining it with a “fiscal czar” (Merkel’s term, not mine) is authoritarian madness. It would abandon the pretense of electoral democracy within the European Union."

 

Good critical analysis by John Weeks of recent developments in European governance structure. Pro-Europeans who welcome this as "more Europe" are either terribly naive or have a hidden agenda.

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Barroso's "decisive deal" to do more of the same

Barroso's "decisive deal" to do more of the same | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso held his State of the Union 2012 Address in the European Parliament today.

 

His call for a "decisive deal for Europe" is nothing more than the usual litany of neoliberal (growth and competitiveness first) and old-school EU Integration platitudes (more economic and political union, European parties) with a few words added to placate those in Europe who want real "new thinking" and a really convincing new European project: a socially just and green new EU.

 

O yes and we need a new European public space now that anti-EU sentiment in lots of EU member states is running high. Where have we heard this before? Margot Wallström, please come back!

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Europe proposes banking union to ease debt crisis

As Europe's debt crisis intensifies, top officials say the continent urgently needs a central authority with the financial muscle to fix its broken banks.

 

The flight forward for EU leaders: a "banking union". Finally full recognition that THIS European "Union" has always been a Europe for capital, never for labour and citizens. As long as things went well, we got the crumbs from the tables of the rich, now they send us back to the poor houses and debtors' prisons.

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It's finally coming: the great European gas market transformation

It's finally coming: the great European gas market transformation | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"The European gas market is awaiting radical changes in the years ahead. The old market structure, based on bilateral long-term contracts between a limited number of big suppliers and buyers, will be replaced by (presumably) thriving wholesale markets where sellers and buyers meet on trading hubs to make short-term deals. Some analysts are sceptical."

 

Informative article in European Energy Review on the radical reform of the European gas market.

 

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IMF Report Offers Bleak Outlook for Greece

An International Monetary Fund staff report warned that Greece's loan program faces exceptionally high risks and said Athens may need further debt restructuring and additional financing that Europe should cover.

 

This IMF report does not square with all the reassuring comments from EU leaders Van Rompuy and Barroso that Europe has turned the page and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Seems to me there might still be a lot of pain and sacrifice before we reach the end of this tunnel.

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Europe’s Austerity Mirage

European governments are following the same path Asian countries pursued in the late 1990s — austerity and competitiveness — but they are less likely to succeed.

 

Good article on the eurozone debt crisis by French economist Jean-Paul Fitoussi in the NY Times.

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EU tar sands pollution vote ends in deadlock

EU tar sands pollution vote ends in deadlock | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Decision on whether to label oil produced from tar sands as highly polluting is delayed as key vote fails to find majority...

 

Excellent coverage by Damian Carrington in the Guardian about important EU decision on tar sands.

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Stronger Europe or democratic sovereignty? Yes please

Great analysis in Open Democracy about the false choice between EU federalism and intergovernmentalism and the need for genuine European politics.

 

"The incumbent task for citizens is thus clear: to confront the political question directly. The era of ‘output legitimacy’ is over. How boldly Europe embraces new forms of input legitimacy - in which we will have to supply the ideas and the future of Europe ourselves, democratically as citizens - will determine whether and how we overcome the current sovereign debt crisis, as well as our deeper democratic malaise."

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Potočnik: More legislative power, but no money for environment | EurActiv

Potočnik: More legislative power, but no money for environment | EurActiv | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Compared to other policy areas, environment still remains the Cinderella of the European budget, where allocations amount to just over €2 billion compared to research which gets more than €50 billion for the FP7. Negotiations on the next EU budget 2014-2020 will be crucial, said Commissioner Janez Potočnik in an interview with EurActiv Slovakia.
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Shock over Ukraine

Shock over Ukraine | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Ukraine is shaping up to be a lot like Yugoslavia, except with more than twice as many people, lots of crazed street fighters who think they now own the place, and a role critical to European energy security. If you aren't in shock about this, then you haven't been paying attention.
Willy De Backer's insight:

One of the better analyses I have read about the explosive situation in failed Ukraine. Yugoslavia yes, but also close to the 37 days that started world war one. Still waiting for the analysis of the energy angle of this developing story.

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Degrowth in Slovenia

Degrowth in Slovenia | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
We need a no-growth development model as an alternative to an austerity model which will do nothing except bring ordinary people hardship and misery – offering them no hope and no way of coping with their problems.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Very inspiring article by Feasta's Brian Davey on the need to go beyond the sterile austerity versus new Keynesianism solutions to the growth and debt crisis of the EU.

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The new war in Europe? | openDemocracy

What is happening in Greece is typical of what I call a new war. Dramatic cuts in public spending weaken state capacity and further erode trust and legitimacy, providing a space for a combination of criminality and extremist politics. Such a combination is self-reproducing, since those involved profit from disorder. It is thus very difficult to end or to contain and a new type of predatory political economy that knows no formal borders comes into being.

Willy De Backer's insight:

Excellent analysis of the European Union's crisis of democracy by Mary Kaldor in Open Democracy

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Europe's creditor protection dogma and a fiscal black hole

Europe's creditor protection dogma and a fiscal black hole | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"One of the most striking and least well recognised facts about the crisis is that those who have ultimately benefited from public EU bailout funds are not the governments or citizens of periphery countries but international bondholders. The degree of financial concentration in the world today is unprecedented; bondholders belong to the richest five per cent of people in the world. Yet public bailout money has been used first and foremost to ensure that bondholders are paid in full or with minimal losses. This amounts to a fiscal transfer from taxpayers to private creditors. The cost for the rest of society is enormous: austerity measures in distressed countries have caused unemployment to surge and decades of welfare achievements to be scrapped."

 

The LSE blog has this good analysis of how rich creditors profit from the bail-outs while taxpayers are paying the bill.

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Europe’s Trial by Crisis

Europe’s Trial by Crisis | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"This crisis offers a tremendous opportunity for Europe. It has defined the agenda for years to come: banking union, fiscal union, and political union. What remains missing is an economic-growth strategy for the crisis countries; but, given mounting unrest in southern Europe, such a strategy is inevitable. Europeans have reason to be optimistic if they recognize the opportunity that their crisis has created – and act boldly and decisively to seize it."

 

This opinion piece by Joschka Fischer in Project Syndicate clearly demonstrates how much the former Green rebel has become part of the European elites. No word about the detrimental social impacts of the EU's neo-liberal ideology, no word about the sustainability crisis which caused global economic disruption in the first place.

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The end of the European dream

The end of the European dream | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"Nations states will have to do it, therefore, either together in some grand conference, or more probably alone, after the crisis has put some radical into power. When this will happen, the European Union will simply vanish as the USSR did after the August Coup and the Belavezha Accords. Those who still nurture the dream of a political Europe, whether it be the Europe of Regions of my own political family or the Europe as civilization of the volkish far right will have to accept, as I did, that Europe has become an hollow shell and that time has run out. It is around nation states, not necessarily the ones we know by the way, that Europe will have to face the long descent, until they too dissolve."

 

Pessimistic analysis by French blogger Damien Perrotin explaining why the end of growth will also mean the end of the European Union.Worth reading.

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The deep structure of the European crisis

"Instead of offering an alternative model of regional integration to the unregulated system of the global economy and its discredited ideology of market fundamentalism, Europe remained exposed to and entrapped by financial market players and neo-liberal economic policies. As a result, it de facto turned against its own aspiration to implement the European Social Model and equal up regional disparities. The East-West divide as well as the North-South divide is stronger or at least more obvious today than before 2004/2005. The new phase of peripheralisation conducted by German-led ordoliberalism ↑ has provoked national resistance and led to a further and sharp decline of public trust in both national and European institutions."

 

Interesting article in OpenDemocracy about the deeper reasons behind Europe's crisis. Excellent on analysis of what has gone wrong but less convincing on remedies.

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A Centerless Euro Cannot Hold

A Centerless Euro Cannot Hold | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Europe may never be an optimum currency area by any standard. But, without further profound political and economic integration – which may end up excluding some current eurozone members – the euro may not make it even to the end of this decade.

 

Good analysis by economics professor Kenneth Rogoff of the eurocrisis but lacking ideas on what kind of political and economic union will be needed to win back political legitimacy. An Austerity Union with more political and economic integration will be a failed project.

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Europe's chief scientist warns against climate delays

Europe's chief scientist warns against climate delays | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The European Union cannot use the economic slowdown as an excuse to delay action on fighting climate change, the bloc's first-ever chief scientific adviser has warned.

 

Wise words from the new EU chief scientist Anne Glover.

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Greener than thou

Greener than thou | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
WHILE Europe’s leaders battle for the euro, another signature creation of the European Union (EU), one of the world’s most ambitious climate change policies, is also under attack.

 

Excellent article in The Economist blog about the EU's green trade conflicts.

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Europe’s Failed Course on the Economy

Europe’s Failed Course on the Economy | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Austerity measures clearly are not working, so why are leaders still forcing it on Greece and others?

 

Very good opinion piece on Europe's myopic austerity policies in the NY Times. "Why are Europe’s leaders so determined to deny reality?"

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How Democracy Can Save Europe

How Democracy Can Save Europe | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"... the solution must be a new Constitutional Convention, whose members are invested with the authority to begin again from the foundations and produce a lapidary statement of basic institutions and rights—rather than the ponderous EU treaties Europeans tend to vote down when given the chance in national referendums."

 

Absolute must-read article by Timothy Snyder in The New York Review of Books on the need for Europe to re-invent EU democracy if it is to prevent further meltdown of the European project.

 

For summary and further comments, read my blog coverage of this story http://3eintelligence.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/how-democracy-can-save-europe/

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