REiNFORM invites us to attend a discussion on the roots and consequences of austerity policies and focusing on the winners and the loosers of the crisis.
In the official discourse, austerity policies in Greece are presented as a success. The word by the media and EU officials is that after four harsh years, the economy is slowly getting back in track and Greece will soon get out of the financial crisis.
Such stories flood occasionally the media on other austerity-hit countries such as Spain, Portugal and Ireland. In the Netherlands, similar austerity measures in health care and welfare are presented as a necessity to avoid the destructive path of the countries of the South. The participation in the austerity-driven EU and Eurozone are presented as the only possible way. This ‘success story’ is challenged by hard numbers that indicate that austerity-hit economies are in a free fall and by the worsening situation of hundreds of thousands of people that cannot due to these policies.
In reality, people in Southern Europe are experiencing a wave of radical neoliberal policies that go much further than austerity: labour relations return to the 19th century, people are deprived from access to public goods such as basic health care and education, public property is offered as gifts to large corporations, while massive house evictions are high up in the agenda. In northern Europe, although the tempo and the harshness of the ‘reforms’ is lower, people – and especially the those in need of support – face a similar reality.
Three critical scholars, Kees van der Pijl (emeritus professor, University of Sussex), Yiorgos Vassalos (political science researcher, Université libre de Bruxelles), and Dimitris Pavlopoulos, (assistant professor, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) will try to shed some light on these issues and sparkle an interesting discussion.