No solution for Europe without Reaffirming the Lisbon Strategy

Photo : J. V. Makine;.

Back to good old days of the Lisbon Strategy (when the
Union was proclaimed to be the most competitive, knowledge-based economy of the
world), the Prodi and Barroso Commissions have been both repeatedly stressing
that: “at present, some of our world trading partners compete with primary
resources, which we in the EU/Europe do not have. Some compete with cheap
labor, which we do not want.  Some
compete on the back of their environment, which we cannot accept.”  

What has happened in the meantime?

The over-financialization and hyper-deregulations of
the global(-ized) markets has brought the low-waged Chinese (peasant converted
into a) worker to the spotlight of European considerations. Thus, in the last
two decades, the EU economic edifice has gradually but steadily departed from
its traditional labor-centered base, to the overseas investment-centered
construct. This mega event, as we see now with the Euro-zone dithyramb, has multiple
consequences on both the European inner cultural, socio-economic and political
balances as well as on China’s (overheated) growth. That sparse, rarefied and
compressed, labor which still resides in aging Union is either bitterly
competing with or is heavily leaning on the guest workers who are per
definition underrepresented or silenced by the ‘rightist’ movements and
otherwise disadvantaged and hindered in their elementary socio-political
rights. That’s how Europe departed from the world of work, and that’s why the
Continent today cannot orient itself(both
critically needed to identify a challenge, as well as to calibrate and jointly
redefine the European path).To
orient, one need to center itself: Without left and right, there is no center,

Contemporary Europe has helplessly lost its political
‘left’. The grand historical achievement of Europe – after the centuries’ long
bloody class struggle – was the final, lasting reconciliatory compromise
between capital and labor. It resulted in a consolidation of economically
entrepreneurial and vibrant but at the same time socially just and beneficial
state. This colossal civilizational accomplishment is what brought about the
international recognition, admiration, model attraction and its competitiveness
as well as inner continuity, prosperity and stability to Europe… In the country
of origin of the very word dēmokratía, President of the Socialist
International has recently introduced to his own citizenry the most drastic
cuts that any European social welfare system has ever experienced in last 80
years. The rest of official Europe (and the rest of unofficial us, spectators) still
chews the so-called Greek debt tirade as if it is not about the very life of 12
million souls, but a mare technical item studied at the secondary schools’
crash-course on macro economy. Asifby trivializing what we (want to) see,
we are not ourselves brutalizing what will (later) happen to us. (A non-elected
government is silently pervading the EU, in ever more states.)

The present-day Union, aged but not restaged, is (in)
a shadow of the grand taboo that the EU can produce everything but its own
life. The ‘Old Continent’ is demographically sinking, while economically just
keeping afloat. The middle-class is pauperized and a cross-generational social
contract is silently abandoned, as one of its main operative instruments – the
Lisbon strategy – has been eroded, and finally lost its coherence. Recent generational accounting figures give a
highly disturbing future prospect for the EU youth.

To worsen a hardship, nearly all European states have
responded wrongly to the crisis by hammering down their respective education
and science/R&D budgets. It is not a policy move, but an anti-visionary
panicking that delivers cuts on to the future (generations). (E.g. the EU
investments in renewables is decreasing ever since 2008. Still today, the EU
budget allocation to agriculture subsides is 10 times bigger than to R&D.)

What is the additional pervasive effect of (any)
crisis on democracy? 9/11 is just one in a series of confirmations (e.g. from
the ‘Nixon shock’ to the ongoing Greek/Euro debt saga) that any particular
crisis may turn beneficial to those seeking the nontransparent power
concentration. Once a real democracy starts compromising its vital contents, it
corrodes degenerates and turns formal. Many contemporary examples show us that
for a formal democracy, it is not far from ending up as an oppressive
autocratic dictatorship with either police or military or both residing outside
a strict civil and democratic control. A real democracy will keep its financial
establishment (as much as its armed organs, and other alienation-potent
segments) under a strict popular democratic scrutiny and civil control through
the clearly defined mechanisms of checks and balances. That is the quintessence
of democracy.

 “There has been
little willingness to strengthen civic watchdogs of international financial
institutions, which might provide a more accurate service than the commercially
driven credit-rating agencies that performed so disastrously in the financial
crisis…” – laments the FRIDE Institute Director, Richard Youngs in his luminary
book: Europe’s Decline and Fall.
Indeed, is there any rating agency for
the ethical bankruptcy,
for a deep moral crisis affecting all societal
segments around us?

Currently, the end game of the so-called Euro-crises seems
to reveal that the financial institutions are neither under democratic control
nor within the national sovereignty domain. (E.g. 20 years ago, the value of
overall global financial transactions was 12 times the entire world’s gross
annual product. By the end of 2011, it was nearly 70 times as big.) So far, Iceland
remains the only country that indicted and sentenced its Prime Minister in relation
to the financial crisis. 

Ergo, negotiating on the
coined “Euro-zone debt crisis” (debt bound economies) without restaging the
forgotten Lisbon strategy (knowledge-based societies) is simply a lame talk
about form without any substance – it is
a grand bargain about control via austerity, not a vision of prosperity

Indeed, the difference between a dialectic and cyclical history is a distance
between success and fall
: the later Lisbon (Treaty) should not replace but
complement the previous Lisbon (Strategy). Restaging the Lisbon Strategy and reintroducing
all of its contents is not just Europe’s only strategic opportunity, but its grand
generational/historic responsibility as well.

*Anis H.
Bajrektarevic, Geopolitics of Energy Editorial Member

Chairperson for
Intl. Law & Global Pol. Studies

Vienna, 22 JUN


[1] From the democratic, transparent, just, visionary and
all-participatory, a holiday from
model of the European Community, the EU should not downgrade
itself to a lame copy of the Federation of Theocracies – the late Ottoman

This authoritarian monarchy was remembered as the
highly oppressive and undemocratic although to a degree liberal and minority-right
tolerant feudal state. The Ottoman Federation of Theocracies was of a simple
functioning system: with the Sultan’s handpicked Grand Porta (verticalized/homogeneous monetary space of the EMU and
ECB, moderately restrained by the Council of the EU) that was
unquestionably serviced by the religious communities from all over the waste
Oriental Empire (horizontalized/heterogeneous fiscal space of the EMU,
in which every state freely exercises its sovereignty in collecting taxes and
spending), unless otherwise prescribed off-hand by the Sultan and his Porta (ECB and IMF).