Last week saw the largest general strikes to date against austerity policies in Southern Europe. In Portugal, Spain and Greece, but also in Belgium, public services were shut down for a whole day, with hospitals and airports closed, and street traffic almost nonexistent. Public mobilization was most impressive in Athens, Barcelona and Madrid, but a few cities in France also saw public demonstrations, especially of young people, against both cuts in social welfare and retirement benefits and tax increases.
Without a doubt, the past three years of crisis and economic retraction has produced awful social distortions in Southern Europe, and this is not the first time that the pro-cyclical and recessionary effects of an “austerity alone” policy, combined with a straight jacket of tight monetary policy, has been widely criticized. Retired people, the unemployed and especially the youth have suffered the most. Youth unemployment in Spain has reached 50 percent, with a whole generation essentially being denied entry to professional life. German language courses at the Goethe Institutes of Athens and Barcelona have quadrupled, as the young engineers of the South now increasingly seek work in Germany. Although labor mobility was one of the goals of the European common market, it is questionable whether this kind of job migration, with its resulting “brain drain,” is a desirable outcome. ...
To read the rest, sign up to try World Politics Review
- TWO WEEKS FREE.
- Cancel any time.
- After two weeks, just $9 monthly or $59/year.
Request a free trial for your office or school. Everyone at a given site can get access through our institutional subscriptions.
- For Europe in Afghanistan, Long-term Commitment Despite Lack of Interests
- World Citizen: In Spain, a Turn to 'None of the Above'
- As U.S. Pivots, Britain Hedges Its Military Bets
- Russia Tries to Manage Arab Awakening From the Outside
- Diplomatic Fallout: A More Hawkish Europe Gives U.S. Second Thoughts