Europe

EU socialists unite against austerity

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The socialist parties of France, Spain and Portugal have discussed measures to tackle austerity policies in the European Union.

During the meeting in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, on Friday, the socialist parties discussed ways to create jobs and promote regional growth.

On the same day, a French Socialist Party document on Europe was released, accusing German Chancellor Angela Merkel of being obsessed with “Berlin’s trade balance and her electoral future.”

The European project is “being damaged by an alliance between the Thatcherist tendencies of the current British prime minister… and the selfish intransigence of Chancellor Merkel,” the document read.

“Democratically challenging the European right involves politically confronting the German right.”

Analysts say the Lisbon meeting showed that Europe is divided into two ideologically opposed camps.

Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, the general secretary of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ party, said, “How much suffering is still to come before we notice that these policies are wrong?”

Merkel, who is facing Germany’s federal elections on September 22, wants to promote the image of a politically united Europe tackling the ongoing debt crisis.

The French Socialist Party has urged President Francois Hollande to dispute Merkel’s austerity policies more forcefully.

In addition, former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon met on Friday with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and said afterwards that the relations between Paris and Berlin had “rarely been as bad.”

Thomas Klau, a political scientist, said there was a “growing irritation in Paris over what is seen as a refusal (in Berlin) to see the extreme economic, social and political emergency faced by the countries in the south of the eurozone.”

Europe plunged into financial crisis in early 2008. The worsening debt crisis has forced the EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms.

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