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Joachim Becker - Euro Zone: Smaller and Less Democratic?

Joachim Becker - Euro Zone: Smaller and Less Democratic?

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Published by Stipe Ćurković

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Published by: Stipe Ćurković on Feb 13, 2012
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02/13/2012

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Euro zone: smaller and less democratic?Joachim BeckerThe European Union increases the pressure on the Greek government and parliament to adopt evenmore severe austerity measures day by day. The Greek democratic institutions are systematicallydisempowered. For the Greek parties, the limits of the bearable seem to be reached. For the Greekpublic, these limits are clearly exceeded. There are first indications that some political forces in theEU core countries would possibly like to squeeze Greece out of the euro zone.The present Greek government is not legitimated by elections. It is the result of EU pressures to forma government of national unity with the aim to push through the austerity agenda of the creditors.The government is headed by Lukas Papademos. As the ex-chief of the Bank of Greece and formervice-president of the European Central Bank, he enjoys the confidence of the financial world and theleading political forces in the EU. For the first time since the fall of the military dictatorship in 1974,Papademos included members of the far right-wing LAOS party in government. It was only the left-wing parties which stayed outside this national unity government. In Italy, the EU exercised likewisestrong pressures in order to replace Silvio Berlusconi by Mario Monti, a former EU commissioner. Incontrast to Greece, the Italian government is presented as a technocratic government. It is packed byministers who had held managing positions in banks before. It could be described as a bankers’government. “The installation first of Papademos and then Monti can thus be considered asbloodless coups, conceived and administrated by the euro zone leaders and the bankers, whoseauthorized representatives they are”, concludes the Greek philosopher Stathis Kouvelakis.The policy space of the South European governments is severely circumcised – in the case of Greeceand Portugal by very detailed agreements with the IMF/EU, in the case Spain and Italy by the usualEU procedures as well as pressures by the banks. Giorgos Kassimatis, professor emeritus forconstitutional law and political science, points out that the Greek credit treaties with the euro zonecountries and the IMF violate principle of a state of law (Rechtsstaat, pravný stat) and human rightsprinciples. The treaties restrict the national sovereignty and the powers of elected national bodies toa degree that they would require the consent of parliament. However, they have neither beendiscussed nor passed by parliament. Kassimatis underlines that property rights pertain as well towages and pensions. Legally codified social rights have been abrogated without any transitionalarrangements. German officials recently proposed to install a special “budget commissioner” withveto powers over Greek spending decisions. It was followed up by the ideas of a special escrowaccount which would give the EU and the IMF even stronger control over the use of bail-out funds.The ad hoc governance that emerges for European debtor states is not without precedence in themost recent European history. It has common traits with the type of governance which the Westerngovernments installed in their collective de facto protectorates Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovoafter the wars. The political and economic balance sheet of Western governance in these twoterritories is extremely poor.The European Stability Mechanism would institutionalise what is already practiced in an ad hocmanner: the (temporary) suspension of budgetary autonomy of countries that ask for support interms of crisis. A number of new EU rules and the proposed fiscal pact likewise reduce the budgetarypowers of parliament in a drastic way. The President of the German Federal Constitutional Court,

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