Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Fiscal Compact 2012’ Category

Will this be the ICTU position on the Austerity Treaty?

with 2 comments

The paper below on the Fiscal Compact (Austerity) Treaty, dated 12th April, was prepared for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions executive by General Secretary David Begg following the ICTU executive committee meeting of 9th March.

It seems that the blackmail clause is necessary for David Begg too. In a paper which is 80% a useful demolition of the Treaty from a social democratic point of view, an excuse that the wording does not really copper fasten austerity and, especially, the projected inaccessibility of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) for a second bail out following a rejection, leads to the conclusion, encapsulated in the final sentence:

“While the treaty is wrong from our economic and social perspective it becomes hard to oppose it unless a satisfactory alternative to the ESM can be advanced.”

It appears that his will be the leading proposal to go before the relevant ICTU executive meeting for deciding a Congress position on the Treaty.

The email that brought in the paper had the subject heading, “Is this travesty just going to go unchallenged?”


Read the rest of this entry »

Written by tomasoflatharta

Apr 15, 2012 at 12:07 am

Austerity in Europe: Susan George on the rise of neoliberal and undemocratic Europe

with one comment

Susan George interviewed for the Transnational Institute (TNI). Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

March 1, 2012. Text printed below video. Video posted here from YouTube.

What is the continuity you see between the Maastricht Treaty, through the Lisbon Agenda and the Lisbon Treaty, to the “six pack” and now this new fiscal treaty?

The Maastricht Treaty was a treaty that presented two completely arbitrary figures: 3 per cent budget deficit with regard to the GNP and 60 per cent for the debt.  Why not 4 per cent or 2 per cent? Why not 55 or 65 per cent? Nobody knows. They came out of the sky, those numbers, doubtless from the Bundesbank. But they have become sort of religious symbols, the holy numbers of Maastricht. That was the first effort to get government policy under control, but countries did not respect that, including Germany

When the time of Lisbon came, we’d rather stopped talking about that. Lisbon was about different issues. When people read that treaty (which they did in France, it was the biggest debate we’ve had since May ‘68) — and realised what was actually in the European treaties, they were horrified.

There were innumerable issues in that treaty which people were opposed to: that we were going to be forever under the command of NATO with the US president as commander-in-chief; all the economic detail and other issues in France which made people frightened of laïcité — secularism. But above all, people understood often for the first time that the entire economic program of the EU was, and always had been, completely neoliberal and put “free and undistorted competition” and the free market way above social protection.

In France, we had a huge campaign based on about 1000 collectives that sprung up all over the country, but nobody in the establishment expected us to win. We started off with 70 per cent for the yes, 30 per cent for the no. That is probably why they let us have a referendum. And we voted 55 per cent no. The establishment was furious. All of the major media, most of the politicians, they were stunned and they were furious. And they said in private, never again.

So what happened after that? After the French and the Dutch had voted against this treaty in no uncertain terms (the Dutch vote was 60 per cent against), they got into a very secret group. They had a small committee writing a new treaty, making it even more complicated. They drafted the Lisbon Treaty with the help of the top judicial experts of the commission. It was completely opaque as a process. There were no elected representatives in the group that wrote it. And they simply took the constitution that we had defeated threw out the anthem and the flag and a couple of other little trimmings. But as Valéry Giscard d’Estaing said — and he was the chief architect of the constitution — they have made cosmetic changes to make it easier to swallow. And every other official, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, said this is exactly the same thing as the constitutional treaty. Nothing has changed. And many, many other officials said that including Baroso, the president of the commission.

So here we have the Lisbon Treaty, we’re not allowed to vote on it because obviously we’re going to vote the wrong way. It was made clear that no one will have a referendum — except for Ireland. Gallant little Ireland, has in its constitution that it must have a referendum every time there is a change in the European constitution. And we should all have that provision. The European Constitution and the European legislation provides 80-85 per cent of our national legislation, it just gets transferred into national law. Therefore, when you are under the control of a non-democratic Europe, this is very serious because that is going to be transposed into your own national law.

Fortunately, I had the good luck to be asked by the Irish to help them in fighting against the Lisbon Treaty. Again, we won. It was fantastic! Starting from a very low level, and then for one reason or another, people understood what it was about.  They said no, even though it was extraordinarily complicated to read.

And so, they didn’t vote correctly either. They had to be disciplined; they had to be told to vote again.  By that time the crisis had broken, and the Irish were more or less told that if you don’t vote right this time and say yes, then you are going to be in very deep trouble, you are not going to get any loans and you are not going to get any help coming out of the crisis. So they dutifully went back to the polls and voted yes.

Why do we have to have, in addition to all of this, what is called the “six pack“, and now a new treaty that we should just call the “austerity treaty” (it has a much longer name but forget that, it’s the austerity treaty).  Why do we need this? We need it because Germany, principally, and a few other countries, want this engraved in stone. They want those Maastricht numbers, that people were not paying attention to, engraved in marble: 3 per cent budget deficit allowable maximum, 60 per cent debt allowable maximum. This means that member states are going to lose one of their principal powers in national sovereignty — the power over their own finances. They are not going to be able to control that because it is all going to be controlled by Brussels.

We have a serious problem with this because Brussels wants austerity. What does that mean? Austerity simply means that there is going to be an attack on every measure that has been passed before and since World War II to give ordinary people, workers, ill people, children, old people the benefits that they fought for and won over the last 50 to 100 years. It is that serious!

We do have higher debts, and we do have budget deficits, but the European Commission and the governments are pretending that these deficits exist because we have been “living beyond our means”. That is not the case. It is not because old people have been getting their cheques for retirement or the unemployed have been receiving compensation. It has nothing to do with social spending.

We have deficits because when the crisis came, our governments had to spend huge amounts to bail out the banks. They had to confront a drop in GNP of about 5 per cent — which is a lot of money. They had to try to compensate for that which also costs a lot of money. And since there was more unemployment, they were not receiving the tax income that they were used to receiving. That was a drop in the income with an increase in the expenditures. And since they won’t tax the rich either, there was no money in the till.

What do they do? They say, ah, it is up to the people to pay. So what has happened is that the banks have contributed zero, they are not being asked to make sacrifices at all. We are punishing the innocent, the people who are supposed to pay through austerity, and we are rewarding the guilty because the banks are continuing to receive huge privileges and subsidies from our governments.

That is why we must defeat this fiscal compact, this austerity treaty, and all the measures that come with it unless we want Europe to be retrograded to, shall we say, the 19th century. That’s what it is about.

[Susan George is a TNI fellow, president of the board of TNI and honorary president of ATTAC-France (Association for Taxation of Financial Transaction to Aid Citizens).]

Written by tomasoflatharta

Mar 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Vote No to Austerity Europe – No to the Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance – Platform of the Campaign Against the Austerity Treaty

with one comment

Vote No to Austerity Europe – No to the Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance –
Platform of the Campaign Against the Austerity Treaty

The proposed new Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union– in reality an Austerity Treaty – is an undemocratic attempt to institutionalize austerity across Europe. Its ‘Fiscal Compact’ would deny the right of Member State governments to run a ‘structural’ budget deficit of more than 0.5%. This would remove the democratic right of national parliaments to decide national budgets, with that power shifting to the unelected European Commission and European Court of Justice. This would be a fundamental transfer of power away from elected governments. We call for a ‘No’ vote in the referendum. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by tomasoflatharta

Mar 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Vote No to EU Austerity Treaty – Bailout People Not Banks – Public Meeting, Liberty Hall, Monday March 5, 7.30pm

with one comment

Say No the Austerity Treaty – Irish Times Front Page Photo, 29.2.2012

First Poster of the 2012 EU Austerity Referendum Campaign

Bailout People Not Banks

Link to PDF of Poster is Here :

Say No to EU Austerity Treaty

More Information on the Danish Red-Green MEP Soren Sondergaard Here :

Soren Sondergaard on Denmark and the Euro

Danish People’s Movement Welcomes Foreign Workers

Public Action was needed to force the government to hold a referendum.

We have extra time after the Lisbon Treaty 1-1 draw – let’s score in extra time and win this European battle on Irish Soil – start the fight back against the parasite banks in Ireland, spread the spirit of rebellion beyond our shores to the rest of Europe.


United Left Alliance calls for a NO vote in ‘Austerity Referendum’

The five United Left Alliance TDs (Richard Boyd Barrett, Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Joe Higgins and Seamus Healy) today called for a NO vote in the referendum on the Fiscal Treaty – the austerity treaty. Read the rest of this entry »

Over 100,000 rally in Lisbon against austerity – Irish Media Please Copy

leave a comment »

Left-wing sources brought this event to our attention – no comment so far on any mainline Irish Media that we have seen.

While Reuters report that “Over 100,000” people packed into the city’s main square, another report says 350,000 were present.

Here is a photo :

Lisbon Rejects Austerity - Irish Media Please Copy

Written by tomasoflatharta

Feb 12, 2012 at 11:51 am


with one comment

The Left Unity Blogging Network has this post today:

comment on wall from H. Silke : “Not one but two different component parts of the ULA organised public meetings clashing with the ULA’s Dublin city branch meeting (at the same time and place). Hardly driving confidence in joined up thinking never mind revolution? :-/”

and asks, “Can anyone shed any light on the matter?

Well yes, and it all sheds light on the Babel that is the ULA and the need concentrate on the ULA as an organisation. Last night the Dublin Central Branch held its (well attended) monthly meeting in the Teachers Club, Parnell Square, Dublin. I was astonished to see posters in town for a Socialist Party public meeting at the same time in the Teachers Club on the Fiscal Treaty. Wait, we have a troika of our own.  Socialst Democracy, an informal component of the ULA, had a public meeting at the same time in the Teachers Club,  with Conor McCabe speaking on the economy. This seems to have been reasonably well-attended too.

Now all three meetings were very worthy of attention and attendance. And no doubt it was all the kind of mix up that we all do on occasion, and was no disrespect to the Dublin Central ULA trying to gather all ULA members and sympathisers in the area for a Branch meeting. But it was also a symptom of disengagement by the components from the ULA itself,  of everybody doing their own thing and of little reference into the organisation and schedules of the ULA. And, all three meetings could have been held under the banner of the ULA, and why not. And all three may even have been combined in some way, to cut down on all the subdivision of action and multiplication of energy that is a feature of the left – and the broad social response to austerity too – at the moment.

Des Derwin

Genesis 11:5-8

with one comment

Eddie Conlon and Brendan Young published their article on the ULA (Where to now for the ULA? – now on the Australian Links site BTW) on 3rd February. The response from the main constituents of the ULA has been ‘no reply’ so far, but it is early days and people are very busy these days. Though their inveterate bloggers have stayed their hands too. In it Eddie and Brendan wrote:

As a bottom line the emphasis should shift from constituents running their own campaigns when they cannot get agreement in the ULA to agreeing to focus on campaigns where everyone is in agreement.”

Of course it is not a direct response to this, more an illustration of the point they were addressing, but on 6th February the Socialist Party announced:

Paul Murphy MEP launched the Socialist Party campaign for a referendum to be held on the Austerity Treaty and an online petition,, for members of the public to sign [and] build pressure on the government to allow the people to vote on this treaty.”

I don’t know if all the constituents of the ULA agree to a campaign for a referendum on the Treaty or if agreement was sought but here is a “Socialist Party campaign for a referendum to be held on the Austerity Treaty and an online petition”. Last year the SWP launched their ‘Enough!’ campaign for a referendum on the IMF/ECB/EU bail out. This was a solo run and, besides, the SP and others disagreed with the aim of seeking a referendum on the bail out. Since then ‘Enough!’ has campaigned on several other issues that an all-ULA sponsored body might have done.

Now the SP has launched an SP campaign for a referendum on the Fiscal Compact. A campaign that could surely and easily be undertaken by the ULA, or, indeed, subsumed into the broad campaign to which almost all the elements of the ULA are affiliated along with other forces. And do we now have two referendums in our sights? One on the bail out and one on the Treaty?

This is not to have a go at Paul Murphy, whom everyone has respect for. The thing to ask is – as with other ranging forays – can this initiative not be brought back to the main column and under the ULA umbrella? Otherwise another, frequently asked, question, will continue to be asked: ‘Where is the ULA’?

Des Derwin