This Austerity Treaty on May 31st is your chance to say whether you think the way to resolve Ireland’s current difficulties is through more cuts and bank bailouts or through jobs and growth and sorting out the debt crisis.
It’s no surprise that FF, FG and Labour all support this treaty. They all support austerity. They all promised us Lisbon would bring us jobs and growth – it didn’t. And after all that, they still put the big banks before the public.
This treaty will mean at least €6billion more in cuts and taxes. It surrenders huge power to the European Commission and allows it to tell future Irish governments how to run the economy. It allows the European Court of Justice to fine us up to €160 million every time they say we break their rules. These policies can only be changed by a future referendum with the agreement of the other EU states who signed up to it.
Unemployment is at a record high despite massive emigration. At the end of April there were 436,000 signing on. Eurozone unemployment has reached an all-time high of 10.9%. The Irish Exporters Association has said that Eurozone recession is slowing our export growth.
Businesses, either foreign or domestic, operating in Ireland need a competitive cost base, a skilled workforce, access to markets and demand. Demand in Ireland and Europe has fallen off a cliff due to austerity. This treaty will mean an extra €6 billion in tax increases and spending cuts post 2015. This will further depress consumer demand, pushing the domestic economy further into recession.
More austerity is the last thing that the Irish and Eurozone economy needs. The only way to generate growth is to invest in jobs and strategically stimulate demand. This is recognised by the growing number of political parties and trade unions across Europe who are opposing the Austerity Treaty.
The Government has claimed that a no vote will make this year’s budget ‘dramatically more difficult’. This is untrue. The targets for the next three budgets have already been agreed by the Government and the Troika. The Government is committed to €8.6 billion in adjustments between 2012 and 2015. The outcome of the referendum will not affect any of this.
The Government needs to stop the scaremongering. The electorate deserve a sensible debate on the economics and the politics of this Treaty.
The most important question that the Government must answer is how they will pay for the cost of a Yes vote.
At the centre of this Treaty is the so called ‘Balanced Budget rule’. If passed we will have to reach a structural deficit of 0.5% after we exit the current Troika austerity programme in 2015. According to the Department of Finance’s own Spring Forecast published recently the structural deficit in 2015 will be 3.5%. The gap between this figure and the new 0.5% rule is equivalent to approximately €6 billion.
The Government has a responsibility to explain to the voters where they will get this money from. Is it their intention to further increase the tax burden on low and middle income families? Is it their intention to cut even more funding from front line education, health and community services?
The elections in France, Greece, Italy, Britain and Germany saw the electorate reject austerity. They know that austerity isn’t working.
The referendum on May 31 provides Irish citizens with an opportunity to join the growing European-wide movement for investment in jobs and growth.
A strong no vote will ensure that this goes beyond rhetoric.
The Austerity Treaty, if passed, will copper-fasten austerity policies and lead to further substantial cuts to public services, increased unemployment and emigration.