From the Charter of Fundamental Rights to the Crisis, the State of the Art
As Europe struggles with the most profound economic and social crises in recent history, what happens to the promises of freedom, democracy, equality and respect for the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person proclaimed in the Preamble of the Treaty on European Union? How does the European Union intend to demonstrate its commitment to fundamental social rights at a time of widespread deregulation and an increasingly precarious labour market? How can we further enhance the democratic and efficient functioning of European institutions when there is a growing distance between citizens and political elites?
This publication is based on papers given at the international conference «Citizenship and Solidarity in the European Union – from the Charter of Fundamental Rights to the Crisis: The State of the Art», which took place in the School of Law at the University of Minho, Portugal, in May 2012. The line-up of contributors includes scholars from southern and northern Europe and Brazil, and together the papers constitute a lively and productive debate about the future of Europe.
The Euro of our Discontent (João Rodrigues)
Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra
In a prescient critique of the European political economy, Andrea Boltho, an economist and historian from the University of Oxford, argued that: “seen from the outside, the Eurozone looks almost like a developing country on which the IMF has imposed one of those rigid stabilization programs for which it is so famous: low inflation, fiscal rectitude, deregulation and privatization, all run by a bunch of non-elected officials”.1
Nine years later, seen from the inside, “rigid stabilization programs” are being imposed by European institutions, with the participation of a comparatively more pragmatic International Monetary Fund (IMF), to the periphery of the Eurozone in a vain effort to contain a structural crisis of its peculiar configuration. These recessionary austerity programs, focused on minimizing the risk of losses for financial capital, are the price these countries are paying for official loans. They confirm the loss of all the substantive attributes of democratic sovereignty that the easy access to financial markets, due to the Euro, had previously disguised.
In this article, I intend to: (1) briefly sketch some hypotheses that might account for Portugal’s socioeconomic and political problems, (2) present the conventional economic wisdom about the route out of the crisis, and (3) account for the available alternatives to a plan that is bound to foster the development of underdevelopment, tearing this unbalanced monetary experiment apart.
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