The boast by Enda Kenny that Ireland’s presidency of the European council is one of “a country of recovery driving a recovery across Europe” is empty rhetoric. Working and middle class people are not feeling Kenny’s ‘recovery’ , with 2012 marking the fifth year of domestic recession in Ireland and a return to recession in the eurozone.
If austerity policies were really aimed at creating economic recovery, they would have been abandoned by now because of their patent failure. Instead, they are pursued yet more vigorously because they work for the bondholders who will have benefited to the tune of over €25 billion in both 2012 and 2013 from taxpayers in Ireland.
While the EU presidency is largely a ceremonial position, it does means that the Irish government will be helping the Commission in co-ordinating the continuation of the failed policies of austerity across Europe.
The so-called priority of the government to focus on jobs again is again little more than rhetoric. Grand sounding schemes such as the youth guarantee scheme and attempts to entice investment from the US will not hide the reality of a strike of investment by the super-rich. To really tackle the crisis of unemployment across the EU, with 25 million people out of work, austerity needs to be ended and replaced with a massive job creation programme – using the funds that otherwise will go to further enrich bondholders.
The Irish political establishment will no doubt use the presidency and fortieth anniversary of Ireland’s entry into the EU to paint a rosy picture of a ‘social’ Europe Union. Such a picture will jar dramatically with people’s real experiences, which is of an ‘Austerity Union’, with the EU being a driving force in the austerity destroying lives in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe.
What is needed in 2013 is to recall the spirit of the heroic 1913 lock-out led by Connolly and Larkin. A vigorous struggle, rather than tame appeals for moderation, is needed by the trade union movement and working people generally to defeat the austerity policies, kick out the Troika from Ireland and the other countries in Europe and fight for a Europe for the millions, not the billionaires – a socialist Europe.
Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy will be hosting a counter-summit in Dublin from 15-17 February, involving socialist activists and trade unionists from across Europe. To have this vital discussion about the nature of Europe and how to construct a united opposition to fight to end austerity. This will be an important focal point for working people who want to discuss how to construct a united opposition to fight to end austerity and the alternative to the Austerity Europe we currently face.