Last week, we asked if you thought the European social model was under threat, or whether the consensus for austerity (if it ever existed) had been smashed by recent elections in France and Greece. Events have been moving quickly and, unable to form a consensus, it now looks like Greece will be holding another election in June. Meanwhile, speculation is rife about the country’s future in the eurozone, adding to the nervousness of financial markets.
After the elections, Debating Europe attended a European Movement International (EMI) briefing in Brussels and interviewed Jo Leinen, a German Social Democrat MEP and President of the European Movement International. We put some of your comments about European austerity to him, to see how he would respond.
First up, we had a comment from Fabian about the “European social model”. Fabian argued that: “I’m not suggesting that we directly eliminate all these services, but rather that we start a public debate on which services we want the healthcare system to cover and which services should be privately paid for. Fostering and moderating this discussion throughout Europe should be a top priority for European policy makers.“
Next, Joe sent in a comment arguing that austerity was not something to be ignored: “[Greece, France and other countries may] not agree with austerity, but if they have no money, they can’t spend it.“
Franck, meanwhile, sent in a comment saying: “I think our leaders must quickly find reasonable compromises between austerity and recovery plan without giving blank checks, because the people will not be patient forever.“
Finally, Gerry was most controversial: “There should be greater transfer of wealth – human resources, industrial resources, commercial resources, military resources and financial resources – from richer parts of the eurozone to poorer parts…“
What do YOU think? Would abandoning painful austerity measures introduce a “moral hazard”, and force rich countries to pay for their profligate neighbours? Or is a transfer of wealth exactly what’s needed for Europe to function with a single currency? Let us know your thoughts in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.