European politicians and union leaders have voiced concerns that the EU’s imposing austerity measures onto member states in order to deal with the economic crisis will engender anger in voters.
The European Central Bank is attempting to deal with the tumult in the stock markets by demanding austerity policies for Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Italy. The bank have directly told Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi what he needs to be doing and when, causing Berlusconi to complain that his administration is being made out as “an occupied government”.
Antonio Di Pietro, a liberal MP, said: ”Italy is under the tutelage of the EU, and a country under tutelage is not a free and democratic one”.
Shift away from democracy
Irish MEP Paul Murphy has said that there has been a “massive shift away from democratic accountability since the start of the crisis”. He added: “There needs to be a check on the enormous power of the ECB, which is unelected, and has basically held a government to ransom.”
Europe’s biggest trade union – the European Public Sector Union – has claimed that the ECB are secretly influencing Italian policy. Jan Willem Goudriaan, its deputy general secretary, said: “Europe cannot be governed through secret letters of bankers, officials or an unaccountable body.”
Goudriaan has also raised worries about the plans for more eurozone economic integration. He points out that this will take decisions of how much should be spent on important areas such as schools, hospitals and the police out of the hands of parliament.
“It is very worrying that few address the democratic nature of the eurozone’s proposed economic government,” he said.
New councils to police eurozone
German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced last week that a eurozone economic council will be set up to impose certain austerity measures onto member governments. The council is to be led by EU president, Herman Van Rompuy.
President of the ECB, Jean-Claude Trichet, believes a European finance ministry that would enforce certain spending policies onto EU countries would be a wise step to take.
“All these proposals, discussions about economic government, are about undermining democracy in order to impose a European shock doctrine,” said Murphy.