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On Italy & the EU after the Eurogroup of 9th April – fanpage.it (English version)

16/04/2020

The debate about the economic consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic has already begun: what do you think is easier to happen? Will it be a momentary crisis or a crisis destined to change our economic system forever?

Neither. The consequences will be harsh and will not disappear any time soon. But, it will not, on its own, change the way capitalism works – even though, it is true, commentators revisit important policy changes, e.g. Universal Basic Income.

We must not forget that in times of crisis all sorts of progressive ideas are floated. For example, in 2009 the G20 even discussed the prospect of rejigging global finance in a manner that reflecting John Maynard Keynes’ splendid proposal for an International Clearing Union. Today, under lockdown, we have had a revival ‘helicopter money’ as a possible source of funding a Universal Basic Income. But, as in 2009 so too now, ideas that are not immediately enacted will be allowed to fade as the oligarchy-without-borders recovers and regains full control of the public debate. So, no, I do not think that these progressive ideas will be implemented by our present rulers. But, there is hope that they will be implemented once this huge new turn of the post-2008 crisis creates new political movements that can, potentially, take over from the current establishment. It may not be hugely likely but it seems to me the only path to something genuinely progressive.

A year after the reopening, what world will we find ourselves in? Will it be a more or less unequal world, a more or less free world, more or less aware of environmental issues, more or less open?

The world will be an unhappier and a much more divided place. In Europe countries that were hit less both by Covid-19 and by economic depression will emerge much stronger relative to countries like Italy. So, on the one hand, Europe will emerge weaker as a whole, the imbalances undermining the Union will emerge hugely reinforced.

Do you think there is a privacy and surveillance issue that arises in Europe?

We had these issues before the pandemic hit. These concerns will grow further. When you give rulers a taste of great power to know, and to control, what citizens do it is hard to end their addiction. This is why DiEM25 is well placed to combat these encroachments into our civil liberties: Because, from 2016, we started thinking about transparency, Europe’s technological sovereignty and ways to democratise data.

Yesterday there was the Eurogroup in which the measures were taken to stem the post-pandemic crisis in Europe: what do you think of these measures?

They will go down in history as a major defeat for Europe and proof that the Eurozone’s managers are unable to contribute to Europe’s shared prosperity. In contrast to the US, the UK and Japan where 6% of total income was injected into the economy as direct funds and debt write-offs, the Eurozone’s decision involved a pitiful 0.22% of pure injections, the rest being irrelevant loans. Our finance ministers should hang their heads in shame.

Is this the moment to raise the issue of the different tax burden in Europe? There are countries like Holland, Ireland and Luxembourg where taxation is practically zero. Could the post-pandemic recovery not be financed even with a corporal tax?

No, this is the moment for sensible Europeans to realise that there is no such thing as a European Union. All we have left is a sad and dangerous European Disunion in which policy is re-nationalised and where our common institutions are only allowed to do things that benefit the oligarchy-without-frontiers.

In your opinion, are Eurobonds a fair battle to fight? Or is it an impossible challenge?

Eurobonds are essential. Without them the Eurozone will either die or become a cruel cage of austerity in which our people will languish? Are Eurobonds feasible? Of course. But only if the Italian, Greek, Spanish etc. Prime Minister is prepared to veto everything in the European Council meeting until and unless a Eurobond of at least €1 trillion, and with a 30 year maturity, is issued.

Do you think Europe will survive this post-pandemic crisis? In Italy anti-European sentiments are increasingly widespread … You recently published Euroleaks, audio files of the recordings of the Eurogroup meetings from 2015 onwards: what do those recordings tell? Why aren’t those meetings recorded?

They are not recorded because the powerful do not want you to know how they reach anti-European decisions behind closed doors in your name. Is Europe going to survive? Sure it will. Will it become a realm of shared prosperity? Certainly not, unless we veto the current idiotic policies. Will the EU survive? It certainly does not deserve to survive, if our leaders continue doing the same over and over again. But, it might survive at the expense of a majority of people in a majority of countries. That’s why DiEM25 is calling upon progressives to unite transnationally behind an agenda for the many everywhere.

For the Italian version as published in fanpage.it click here

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