The European Union’s (EU) ambitious goal to build a unified bloc in order to foster economic growth and improve the socioeconomic lives of individuals from Paris to Athens was received as an admirable idea and, indeed, the region witnessed enticing benefits and encouraging growth levels that would seduce soon-to-be EU members to end their reckless economic behaviors in order to acquire membership.
That same unity, however, did not endure the pangs of economic misery that engulfed Western Europe these past few years, turning the peripheral countries of the EU against the very core countries that were dictating stringent and ridiculous prescriptions to resolve the problem. Peoples from Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain, the peripheral nations of the EU, which are audaciously referred to as the PIGS nations by insensitive commentators, suffered the most, with high unemployment among disaffected youth, pensions and social security plans drying up for the elderly, and austerity measures that were simply masochistic. Horrific stories emerged from some of these nations, such as Dimitris Christoulas, who committed suicide outside of the Greek parliament because he could not live a life where he was “… scavenging through garbage bins for food and becoming a burden to my child.”
Nevertheless, Europeans have always been known to demonstrate against injustices by taking to the street and demanding the attention of their governments. And despite their language barriers and divisions, they recently held an event called the Alter Summit in the economic weary nation of Greece, where they sought to take collective action against the harsh economic measures imposed upon them as well as the mistreatment of migrants and refugees, among other issues. As a result, the attendees produced a dossier entitled, “A People’s Manifesto”. Details of the event are below:
“Alter Summit demands new eurozone solutions,” by Jannis Papadimitriou for Deutsche Welle:
Thousands of activists and trade union representatives came together in Athens for a two-day forum aimed at opposing eurozone austerity measures and finding unconventional solutions to EU problems.
In a document titled “A Peoples’ Manifesto,” the participants of the Alter Summit summed up their views at the close of the event. They see the debt of the crisis-hit eurozone countries as illegitimate, because it “was amassed with no regard for the common good,” and are calling for opposition to austerity measures and growing inequality. At the same time, they hope the European Union will “strengthen and develop the social and ecological commons” and conduct stricter supervision of European institutions…
Another focus of the Alter Summit is the welfare of immigrants and asylum-seekers in Europe. According to some of the activists, there are plenty of negative examples in this area in Greece alone. During an April visit to Lesbos – Greece’s third-largest island, not far from the Turkish coast – Germany’s Left party member Annette Groth was stunned. “There’s not enough of anything,” she said at the Alter Summit. “The refugees are being fed by the local people – 20 women who cook every day.” She pointed out that the island lacked a proper facility for accommodating asylum-seekers – it only has a few police stations and a closed-off harbor area…