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YOU can’t huff and puff about opposing austerity in Britain while also arguing, as some do, that we need Labour to overturn the referendum result and stay in the EU.
The EU has just opened disciplinary proceedings against the Italian government after rejecting its budget proposals.
Italy is the fourth largest industrial economy in Europe and a net contributor to EU coffers — which still don’t get a bill of health from their official auditors.
No-one reading this paper would support the overall politics of the Italian government, but they are taking forward the desires of their own people to end government austerity and to start spending on essential services and infrastructure.
The EU rules state that deficits should not exceed 3 per cent of a country's gross domestic product (GDP) and public debt must not exceed 60 per cent of GDP — a far cry for many European countries. This was introduced by the Maastricht Treaty and a very big reason why many of us on the left in Britain opposed introducing the treaty here without a referendum.
The EU Commission’s vice president Valdis Dombrovskis — not, you will note, an Italian or elected by the Italian people — said: "You cannot cure high levels of debt with more debt, it is a vulnerability that needs to be addressed.”
Indeed Italy’s debt burden, as in many countries these days, is heavy. It is 131 per cent of its GDP and at 2.3 trillion euros (£2 trillion) is the second largest in the euro zone. But that is its business and if they now want to reboot their productive economy by borrowing more to reinvest in public services, no foreign power should prevent them.
But the EU and the finance houses that very much drive its agenda rule over nations by creating debt and other dependencies. One way of making countries dependent is to reduce their self-sufficiency in food and manufacturing production, energy supply and steel. They have done this rather well in Britain and most member states.
Another way is to enforce mass migrations as they did with the accession states, hollowing out the skilled and potential workforces of many countries now desperate to get their nationals back to rebuild their own economies.
Financial debt is the big stick for some, however, and just reflect again on what the EU did to Greece. The banks took over from its elected parliament completely and the EU-backing transnational corporations bought up most of its national assets. They enforced the country into deeper debt and servitude. Proud nations end up paying off the biggest loan sharks the world has ever seen.
We have repeatedly warned on these pages that the related mechanisms of the single market to prohibit meaningful state aid and of other treaties to limit fiscal spending hard-wire austerity in the EU. This cannot be reformed. The EU is trying to retain these mechanisms in the withdrawal agreement with Theresa May expressly to tie the hands of a future independent government of Britain that wants, though for different reasons from the Italian government, to rebuild its economy.
Stop the nonsense. A proper Brexit lays the basis for freeing ourselves from austerity.
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