Politics Magazine

The European Spectre Of Decline

Posted on the 30 May 2013 by Thepoliticalidealist @JackDarrant

The European Commission has got it wrong on the economy, yet again. Though the institution has allowed a number of eurozone countries to delay or limit fiscal austerity measures, it is demanding another form of economic regression to ‘support economic growth’- action by governments to increase ‘flexibility’ in their labor markets.

Whenever anybody talks about ‘flexibility’ in such a context, they are looking at the matter from the perspective of employers. From the perspective of us, the real people with real lives and real aspirations, this is code for ‘insecurity’. What surprises me is that Europe’s response to the social ruination of several countries which they feared, rightly, would turn a generation against the EU project, they decide to make their working lives- if and when the young generation finds work- one in which they must endure lower wages, longer working hours, interior professional development and who-knows-what else so that a distant federation of business owners and investment banks feel confident to grow. The issue is that this generation will see that they should not feel grateful for this settlement.

As with so many bureaucratic institutions, it appears that the European Commission has become more concerned with means than ends. What do they imagine the point of economic growth is? Though the answer is complex, you don’t have to be a communist to see that if living standards and the financial security of individuals is in decline, the benefits of growth constitute an illusion for most of us.

Furthermore, the idea that labor market deregulation would fuel economic growth is one that doesn’t really work. It with with job security and the safety of a strong welfare system that people can have the confidence to explore and develop their talents to the full extent. Consumers can only spend more and stimulate demand when they have confidence that their income is stable. Pension funds, the engine of long-term investment, are limited in scope if employees don’t feel able to save for the distant future. So it’s not just the plebs who lose out, it’s the business world too.

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