S&Ds blame the conservatives and the liberals for rejecting ambitious reforms to end blind austerity

The S&Ds criticised the conservatives and the liberals for rejecting, by a tiny majority, progressive proposals on economic policies for the Eurozone. The report drafted by Costas Mavrides signalled the S&D’s opposition to blind austerity, cohesion funds cuts and the prioritisation of financial markets over EU citizens and it reaffirmed the need for a consistent implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

S&D MEP Costas Mavrides, Parliament’s negotiator on the Economic Policies of the Euro Area file, said:

“Today, it was the day for each political party to show its responsibility towards EU citizens and their true commitment to this European project. By voting against the report, EPP, ECR and ALDE proved today on whose side they stand, and for what. They are ardent supporters of austerity, despite public statements or any social nuances. By rejecting the report they have shown their true colours.

“There are times when our commitment towards the EU citizens precludes any compromise. This is one of those moments and I am proud of the S&D decision to defend my report until the end. I do prefer this result to having it adopted the way the EPP, ECR and ALDE wanted. What they want is to make us choose between hard and soft austerity. It would have been a shame and a sham that I could not possibly have agreed with.

“Politics requires compromise from all sides, but also courage to put the interest of EU citizens above micro-political gains or personal satisfaction. Sometimes, you have to say: enough is enough! This is what we did today. We said no to blind austerity, be it hard or soft. We cannot compromise on our values. We cannot accept austerity policies as if nothing had happened, as if the 2008 global financial crisis taught us nothing. We could not accept inflexibility, downward conversion and only microeconomic conditionality, as the EPP, ECR and ALDE wanted.

“What we Socialists and Democrats want is to build on the flexibility in the implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP). We want to foster socioeconomic upward convergence and this is why we rejected cuts to cohesion funds that enhance prosperity in most deprived regions. We want to reform the European Monetary Union (EMU), but cannot accept EPP’s, ECR’s and ALDE’s refusal to discuss the European Commission’s proposal on the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the completion of the European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS), being an integral and imperative part of the Banking Union agreed years ago. Lastly, we believe that social and environmental considerations should be on an equal footing with the economic ones, in line with the Paris Agreement and the SDGs pledges. Fiscal responsibility, solidarity and sustainability must go hand in hand!”

S&D Group spokesperson on economic and monetary affairs, Pervenche Berès MEP, said:

“Today’s vote is not a defeat. It is a reminder to everyone in the Institutions and the member states of our political family’s commitment to fight for our values and for EU citizens. It is a proof of where the liberals and the conservatives stand. They want austerity and only austerity!

“Sound public finances and debt reduction are not and cannot be an end in themselves. The needs of unregulated market forces should not prevail over the needs and concerns of European workers. The Eurozone needs policies that are sustainable, growth-friendly and boost job creation. We also need to reform the Eurozone, advance with the completion of the EMU and fight against tax fraud, tax avoidance, tax evasion and aggressive tax planning.

“The sustainability of the euro area demands ambitious reforms. It needs to be understood as full sustainability, which fully includes social and environmental dimensions. It demands more transparency and a further democratisation of the economic governance institutions and processes. The European Parliament cannot be excluded from decision-making when EU citizens’ lives are affected. The Eurozone must also become more resilient to new crises. We cannot afford being found unprepared when the next crisis hits. We must build resilience and we must build it now! Austerity is not the way to go; solidarity is!”