PRESS RELEASE – People’s Tribunal on EU Economic Governance and the Troika

The EU and the crisis: from austerity to solidarity the verdict of the other voices and a call for another Europe

Brussels, 15-16 May 2014

19 May 2014 by TNI , Corporate Europe Observatory

Brussels – A Tribunal on EU economic governance and the Troika took place in Brussels on 15-16 May. Eleven witnesses from ten countries in Southern, Eastern and Western Europe gave testimony to the failure of the EU and Troika policies to address the crisis.

In fact many testified that the strategy of the austerity policy measures is a deliberate attack on working people’s standards of living. Indeed, people’s lives and livelihoods have been devastated by the austerity and other policy measures – whether via the Troika Troika Troika: IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank, which together impose austerity measures through the conditions tied to loans to countries in difficulty.

(European Commission, European Central Bank Central Bank The establishment which in a given State is in charge of issuing bank notes and controlling the volume of currency and credit. In France, it is the Banque de France which assumes this role under the auspices of the European Central Bank (see ECB) while in the UK it is the Bank of England.

and the International Monetary Fund IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
) or by direct imposition on national governments of straitjacket fiscal policies, the restructuring of labour and social policies that favour the financial markets, the big banks, and corporations. According to Christos Giovanopoulos (Solidarity4All, Greece), “with the financial and political dictatorship of the Troika, we are confronted with an (un)constitutional ‘coup d’état’ that has brought the loss of national and popular sovereignty and the demise of democracy”.

Witness after witness testified to increasing inequality, unemployment (affecting women and men, across generations, but is especially high among the youth), homelessness, and impoverishment. According to Georg Rammer (Attac Germany), “the most recent statistics from the OECD OECD
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
OECD: the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, created in 1960. It includes the major industrialized countries and has 34 members as of January 2016.
indicate that around 20% of the population in Germany is affected by poverty or social exclusion. Children are particularly affected. The IAB (German Labour Market Institute) has calculated that one in four children lives in a family affected by poverty”. In Slovenia, according to Kira Cerjak (Iniciative for Democratic Socialism), “the labour force is increasingly forced into precarious work which does not suffice for decent livelihood”.

Across the EU, according to Gabriele Michalitsch (Vienna University), “we have an enormous increase in female poverty and of unpaid work in the home. We also see the privatization of child care Care Le concept de « care work » (travail de soin) fait référence à un ensemble de pratiques matérielles et psychologiques destinées à apporter une réponse concrète aux besoins des autres et d’une communauté (dont des écosystèmes). On préfère le concept de care à celui de travail « domestique » ou de « reproduction » car il intègre les dimensions émotionnelles et psychologiques (charge mentale, affection, soutien), et il ne se limite pas aux aspects « privés » et gratuit en englobant également les activités rémunérées nécessaires à la reproduction de la vie humaine. and elderly care being transferred informally, particularly to women migrants who are deprived of their basic rights and expected to work for very low wages”.

Europe-wide reports from rapporteurs on debt, democracy, poverty, public services, wages and feminist perspectives collaborated the narratives presented on the national situations indicating alarming developments, including intensifying racism and neo-fascism. Since the beginning of the crisis, a restructuring has occurred that takes Europe on a track to social and political regression, violations of labour, social and migrant rights, attacks on women’s reproductive rights and increased violence against women and an unprecedented roll-back of democratic achievements. All the testimonies pinpoint to similar trends across the EU – giving a strong message that this is not the crisis of one country, it is a Europe-wide crisis and a crisis of the economic model.

However the dominant message from the Tribunal is that resistance continues in large and small mobilizations and in many creative experiments of grassroots democracy. Ana Maria Jimenez of the PAH (Platform of People affected by Mortgages in Spain) reported that: “Today we are more than 200 nodes in the state. We have stopped over 1.000 evictions, we have relocated over 1.000 people through our Obra Social campaign”.

Despite great difficulties, people are organizing to demonstrate that water is a public commons and cannot be privatized as in the Thessaloniki and Italy initiatives involving citizens and local government; stopping evictions in Spain; trade unions defending their right to organize and defeating attempts of social dumping as in the Dockers strike in Portugal; confronting racism and neo-fascism in many countries; building several forms of people’s self-organisation to counter the effects of austerity and constructing a different paradigm of socially managed public services and an economy of commons.

The outstanding challenges for social movements in the next years include: the roll-back of austerity laws imposed by the European institutions; the cancellation of illegitimate and unsustainable debt; redistributive measures to reverse inequality and enforcement of taxation on corporations and wealthy individuals; the full recognition at the European level of the right to housing, water, food, education and health services; the closure of the camps where migrants and refugees are imprisoned and the full recognition of the right to collective bargaining and an end to precarious work.

Social movements in Europe are already in a necessary process to re-invent ways of doing politics. But to be able to counter the policies of EU economic governance and the Troika, the greatest challenge is to converge and strengthen forces and set another agenda for another Europe.

Further information

Supporting organisations and full program:
The Tribunal took place in the context of the European Week of Action - 3 of our witnesses even were among the 281 arrested during a peaceful protest against the European Business Summit on the 15th:

Sol Trumbo Vila – Transnational Institute (TNI) - +31 6 101 720 65
Leonie Hogervorst – Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) - +32 488 824 836


Transnational Institute

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