People across Europe come together in Brussels and other European capitals this week to reject EU austerity policies and their erosion of democracy. The police have hampered efforts in Brussels by banning the organised march and denying people the right to free assembly.
When the EU Summit takes place in Brussels on the 14th of March it will be in the midst of protests all over Europe and in the Belgian capital itself. “For a European Spring” – a coalition of movements from 13 countries – is calling for actions to denounce the EU approach to the eurocrisis.
A European demonstration was due to take place through the streets of Brussels, but the police have denied authorization – in effect banning it – on the grounds of “lack of resources”.
“This is outrageous. We have a right to assembly and to express our opposition to the EU’s attacks on our jobs and the services we rely on. We’re currently exploring legal action, as the decision represents a blatant show of disregard to the rights of ordinary Europeans,” said Pascoe Sabido (Corporate Europe Observatory), from the coordinating group in Brussels.
What has happened in Brussels mirrors events across Europe, where critical voices speaking out against austerity are being marginalised and repressed. For this reason, despite the police ban, the coalition will still provide a platform to make those voices heard here in Brussels, where European leaders are discussing how to deepen austerity while further eroding democracy and ignoring popular opposition.
On March 13th, a guided “austerity tour” will weave around the EU quarter, taking in the European institutions, financial and industrial lobbies. On 14th March, movements from across Europe will stand side by side with Belgian workers already struggling against the reality of Europe’s austerity policies. Together they will march on Brussels as part of the trade union demonstration against austerity, forming a critical international bloc. At 3 pm an Action Assembly will be held on the fringe of the ETUC rally in Parc Cinquantenaire.
The coalition ‘For a European Spring’ is set up to denounce the EU push for austerity, including cuts in social expenditure, radical wage cuts, attacks on social rights – including labour rights – and other aspects of what the President of the Commission JosÈ Manuel Barroso has called “a silent revolution”. The actions, marches and events are to take place under the slogan “Our democracy against their austerity”.
Sol Trumbo Vila from the coordinating group of “For a European Spring” said: “For three years now, the EU has responded to the crisis with attacks on standards of living and with austerity policies that are dismantling the welfare state across Europe. As unemployment and misery spreads across the continent and support for austerity vanishes, resistance is increasing and will continue to do so in the months and years to come.”
“While the European Union is severely undermining the welfare of its citizens, the member states have supported ailing financial corporations with a staggering EUR €1,6 trillion since 2008. That is a disgrace and it is completely unacceptable. Why should we pay the price for the excesses of the financial sector?” said Myriam Bourgy (CADTM), from the coordinating group in Liege.
The actions developed under this umbrella have now taken form. On Wednesday the 13th of March there will be events, marches or actions in Austria, Belgium (Brussels), Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. Already the people of Europe are coordinating their fights against the same enemy, sharing and learning from each other, building a European movement from below that can provide people-focused, democratic alternatives to austerity.
Pascoe Sabido, email@example.com, tlph. 0032 (0) 486 85 74 16
Sol Trumbo Vila, firstname.lastname@example.org, tlph. 0031 (0) 610172065
Myriam Bourgy, email@example.com, tlph. 0032 (0) 498 35 36 66
Notes to the editor:
· For more information on activities on 13th and 14th March, see www.foraeuropeanspring.org, where events from across Europe are listed.
· Already confirmed as Joining the demonstration on the 14th will be participants from Spain, Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Denmark and Germany from social movements of all kinds, including ATTAC-groups, indignados (15M), environmental groups, debt groups, left wing parties (including politicians), trade unions and many others.
· The platform of the initiative was agreed on in December, and came out of Firenze 10+10 with the following slogans: Abolish all EU-austerity treaties and legislation!; For an ecological Transition!; Disarm Financial Markets!; Debt: Don’t owe, don’t pay!; Fire the Troika, not the people!”
Signatories to the call so far include: Action from Ireland (AFRI)†, Alternative Trade Mandate, ATTAC-Austria, ATTAC-Germany, ATTAC-Poland, ATTAC-Spain, ATTAC-Hungary, ATTAC-Greece, Afrika Kontakt (Denmark), CADTM Europe, Collectif Artiviste, Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (NL), Die Linke.Bruxelles, Ecologistas en AcciÛn (Spain), FairFin (Belgium), Fairwatch (Italy), RESPECT Network in Europe (Amsterdam), Reforma del Sistema Electoral 15M, ReINFORM group (NL), European Alternatives, Hungarian Social Forum, Internationale Socialisten†(NL), Center for Encounter and Active Non-Violence†(Germany), Debt Justice Action Ireland, Vredesactie (Belgium), Precarious United (Belgium), 15M Amsterdam, 15M Bruxelles, Internationale Sozialistische Linke, Pacto Ciudadano Barcelona, Blockupy Frankfurt, PRC (Italy), Corporate Europe Observatory, Social Network Unionism (NL), transform! Europe, Transform Italy, Transnational Institute, ComitÈs contre l’AusteritÈ en Europe (Belgium), Jeuneusse OuvriËre ChrÈtiene Bruxelles (Belgium), Initiative de SolidaritÈ ‡ la GrËce – Bruxelles, Partito dei Comunisti Italiani Europe, TRUSTED Migrant (NL), Transnational MDW (NL), Jeunesse Syndicales FGTB (BE), Brussels popular teams, Agir pou la Paix (Belgium), Action pour la paix (Belgium), Arbeitskreis f¸r kritische Europaforschung (AKE), verdi Landesfrauenrat,†15M Asamblea Popular Moncloa (District), Madrid†Working group politica internacional 15M, Madrid†ComisiÛn ComunicaciÛn Asamblea Moncloa (15M Madrid),†EconomÌa Sol – 15M (Spain),†Jubilee Debt Campaign UK,†Ligue Communiste RÈvolutionnaire†Jeunes anticapitalistes (JAC),†Critical Political EconomyLa Asamblea Popular de Moratalaz 15M (Spain), Asamblea San Blas Canillejas (Spain), Grupo de Trabajo Transversal RE-ACCI”N CIUDADANA (Spain)