The EU’s response to the financial crisis and the escalating eurocrisis has exposed more clearly than ever the disastrous dominance of neoliberal ideology. Obsessed with budgetary discipline, EU decision-makers are imposing sweeping austerity measures, privatising public services and cutting welfare. Corporate lobby groups see their longstanding demands implemented overnight while the living standards of millions are undermined and economies grind to a halt.
The EU’s emphasis on free markets and deregulation in the last two decades was a crucial factor in causing the current crisis. This included:
Deregulation of the financial markets, allowing a credit-fuelled bubble that collapsed in 2008, and which boosted the powers of speculators
The single currency which exacerbated the differences between stronger and weaker economies
The drive for liberalisation and ‘competitiveness’ which left almost every sector of society exposed to market forces, at the expense of social rights, environmental regulation and public services.