In contrast to the propaganda that accompanies its conclusions, what remains from the Eurogroup meeting are the profound contradictions within the European Union, the glaring absence of solidarity and measures pertinent to the scale of the problems, and a cynical as well as undisguised yielding to the interests of major European powers and large economic and financial groups.
In addition to the flexibility that was required in the use of funds already allocated to each of the Member States, the path that is presented boils down to limited and temporary options, and is based on the logic of indebtedness, constraints and assumptions that not only do not guarantee workers’ and peoples’ rights and the response to the needs of countries like Portugal, but will deepen asymmetries, inequalities and relations of dependency in the future.
This is the case with the very serious problem of employment, income and labour rights of workers. The SURE programme, already presented by the European Commission, is designed at the expense of the indebtedness of the States and will serve to finance part-time work schemes and lay-off, which objectively take away income from workers and represent indirect support to the big employers.
As for companies, the Eurogroup points to a credit line from the European Investment Bank that will mainly benefit companies with large capitalisation - with greater capacity to use the credit line - and the financial system - through which credit will be channelled, which will favour an even greater concentration and centralisation of capital, to the detriment of support for thousands of MSMEs
As for the financing needs of the States, the Eurogroup points to indebtedness with the European Stability Mechanism, presented as not being associated to draconian conditions, but limited to healthcare expenses linked to the immediate fight against the coronavirus.
In actual fact, this is an undisguised yielding to the pressure of the great powers, which confirms the logic of "each one for himself", ignoring the immediate financing needs to help the social situation and relaunching of economic activity, hurling States towards new programmes of debt accumulation, associated with "troika-like" rules of this mechanism, with bad memories for Portugal, which harm and are unacceptable for Member States with greater economic weakness, precisely those that need more support.
The serious situation that the workers, the people and the country are facing demands significant measures of public investment in healthcare protection, especially for the most vulnerable groups; in social protection of those most affected and disadvantaged; to defend employment; and relaunching of economic activity.
It demands priority to defend and guarantee the income of workers and their families and to defend employment with rights and measures that ensure the production and defence of the national economy, firstly ensuring the solvency of micro, small and medium-sized companies, with focused, judicious and accessible support.
The Eurogroup measures do not guarantee any of this.
They add debt to an already colossal debt and bind the country to increased and endless programmes of indebtedness, which do not respond to the needs and rights of the people and the country.
In the present circumstances, the Portuguese government, in addition to the diplomatic initiative with countries facing similar difficulties to those of Portugal, must defend in the next European Council effective measures that support the response of States to the demands they are faced with. Measures that, in PCP´s view should include:
- A significant reinforcement of the European Union's budget, ensuring its redistributive function and the objective of effective economic and social cohesion;
- The redirecting of funds within the current budget, focusing them on supporting Member States with the aim of converging economic and social progress;
- The derogation of Article 123 of the Lisbon Treaty with a view to opening up the possibility of direct financing from the European Central Bank (ECB) to States, namely through the direct purchase of national public debt bonds;
- The adoption of measures to face the increase in public debt, especially of the most indebted States, such as Portugal, as well as the cancellation of the fraction of public debt issued by States that is held by the ECB and included in the respective balances, throughout the period of response to the consequences of the outbreak;
- A programme for the renegotiation of public debts, in their terms, interest and amounts, allowing the redirecting resources of the debt to the necessary economic and social responses;
- The adoption of measures that prevent financial speculation and the predatory action of financial capital, namely through the control and suspension of its free movement.
Portugal and the Portuguese cannot be held hostage to the impositions, constraints, blackmail and contradictions that corrode the European Union.
Just as in the crisis that erupted in 2008, the present situation, and its foreseeable developments, show that a country without economic and monetary sovereignty, over-indebted, placed at the mercy of blackmail by speculators and European institutions, in the face of complete absence of mechanisms of true solidarity at European level, will face increased obstacles to defend its people, the workers, their living conditions, its public services, the recovery of economic activity.
For this reason, as the PCP has said, gains strength the need to recover essential instruments of sovereignty, particularly in the economic and monetary fields, and the implementation of an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy that, as reality is proving, holds in its axes and objectives the answers that the people and the country need.