Disintegrating European Austerity in Greece and Germany
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The economic crisis in Europe is also a political crisis, and principally a crisis of democracy. This is reflected in challenges to the manner in which the European Union (EU) has intervened in member states. The predominant form of intervention has been the imposition of austerity policies, which involve reductions in public spending, wage cuts, diminished welfare provision and an increase in the power of capital over labour reflected in higher unemployment. During the Eurozone crisis, such policies have been imposed in new and extreme forms on peripheral countries in the EU, especially Greece. This has made the crisis more severe, as peripheral countries have become stuck in a prolonged recession or, in the case of Greece, a depression. In this context new anti-austerity movements have arisen, demanding more democracy both nationally and internationally. These movements directly challenge the technocratic forms of elitist governance that have characterised the EU, with its lack of popular control and accountability (Anderson, 2009). After the end of the Cold War the main product of these forms of governance in the EU was the creation of the euro: a common currency for most EU states that was seen by European businesses as potentially rivalling the US dollar. Popular challenges to austerity policies have arisen during the Eurozone crisis because the EU’s democratic deficit has been compounded by the use of anti-democratic forms of governance to impose, through supranational institutions such as the European Commission (EC) and the European Central Bank (ECB), an austerity policy that has made the crisis worse.
KeywordsEuropean Union European Central Bank Peripheral Country Austerity Policy Greek Government
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