Thursday

2nd Dec 2021

MEPs accuse troika of causing 'social tsunami'

  • EU parliament: MEPs want the Troika to be dismantled, but there is disagreement on the timeframe (Photo: Luc Mercelis)

The troika caused social devastation by forcing eurozone crisis countries to ignore social and welfare standards, MEPs have said.

Deputies on the European Parliament's employment committee backed a report by Spanish centre-left MEP Alejandro Cercas by 27 votes to seven on Thursday (13 February), which accuses governments of ignoring the European Social Charter and employment conventions set out by the International Labour organisation (ILO).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Speaking with reporters following the vote, Cercas accused the troika - officials who manage bailout payments on behalf of EU and international lenders - as well as eurozone finance ministers, of riding roughshod over the EU treaties and creating a "social tsunami.”

"The arrogance of economic fixation has made policy makers forget that there are conventions which you must stick to … even in a crisis you can't reduce pensions below the breadline," he said.

"It's time for employment and these social benefits which have been destroyed by structural reforms need to be brought back," he noted, adding: "budgets are now balancing and we need to bring back those who have been left behind."

His report comes as parliament wraps up its inquiry into the troika, which has dictated economic reforms in four bailed-out EU states over the past four years: Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus.

The Cercas paper will be added to a similar study by the economic affairs committee.

The economic affairs committee’s co-rapporteurs, Austrian centre-right MEP Othmar Karas and French socialist Liem Hoang Ngoc, have called for the troika to be dismantled due to lack of democratic oversight on its work, in favour of a system directly accountable to the EU parliament.

The EU assembly will vote on an amalgamated text in plenary in March, but the outcome will not be legally binding.

The Cercas report also calls for an EU job recovery plan to help crisis countries deal with unemployment and to revitalise an the small business sector, which has been decimated by the crisis.

It is backed up by a study, out last month, by Andreas Fischer-Lescano, a professor of European law and politics at the University of Bremen, who also published a report saying several austerity measures required as part of bailout packages contravened the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights, with which all of the bloc's legislation must comply.

For his part, Benoit Coeure, a European Central Bank board member, defended the troika in the parliament inquiry’s final hearing, however.

“Don't blame the fire brigade for fire damage,” he said, also on Thursday in Brussels.

“Unemployment has increased a lot between 2010 and 2013, of course … But that’s an inevitable process in a crisis, that you go through the adjustment,” he added.

Despite the wrath of the MEPs, there is disagreement in the house on how quickly to proceed with reform.

The centre-left S&D group wants the troika to be disbanded before the end of the Greek EU presidency in June - a move rich in symbolism.

But Karas' centre-right EPP group wants to wait until the eurozone bailout fund - the European Stability Mechanism - is made fully accountable to parliament, a development which has no fixed timeframe.

Charity documents 'human cost' of EU austerity

A charity has gathered evidence of rising poverty, discrimination and exclusion in seven EU countries that have undergone austerity programmes in return for international loans.

MEPs redouble attack on bailout 'troikas'

MEPs investigating the troika of lenders in bailout countries have said it was marred by conflicts of interest, but a better model could take years to create.

No obligation to defend Ukraine from Russia, Nato chief says

According to Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg "it is important to distinguish between Nato allies and partner Ukraine. Nato allies, there we provide [Article 5] guarantees, collective defence guarantees, and we will defend and protect all allies."

News in Brief

  1. Poland curtails media access to Belarus border
  2. Report: Germany's Scholz 'backs compulsory Covid jabs'
  3. Omicron 'present in Europe at least 10 days ago'
  4. German court finds ex-Islamic State member guilty of genocide
  5. Report: Shell is considering return to Libya
  6. Report: EU to reveal €300bn infrastructure plan
  7. Barbados becomes world's newest republic
  8. Far-right Zemmour will run for French presidency

Column

The EU's 'global gateway' - an answer to China, or a dead-end?

Will the Global Gateway become yet another dead-end? If the Green New Deal, projects to secure supplies of important minerals, the Open Strategic Economy and now this are put together, then the pieces of the puzzle could fall into place.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. No obligation to defend Ukraine from Russia, Nato chief says
  2. EU agency: 'Omicron vaccine' approval to take 3-4 months
  3. Ombudsman launches probe into Commission tobacco lobbying
  4. Lead MEP wants 'mandatory relocation' in EU asylum law
  5. The EU's 'global gateway' - an answer to China, or a dead-end?
  6. Osman Kavala in a Turkish jail - taking injustice personally
  7. Frontex implicated 'to some extent' in violations, says officer
  8. Omicron shows need for pandemic global pact, WHO says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us