EU crisis management ‘stuck in past’

Massive protests have shaken Rome and Athens, where demonstrators riled against their new eurocrat leaders. Greece and Italy are seen as the teetering dominos that could spell the end of the whole eurozone.

­These countries are seeking stability through ruthless spending cuts, but some say unrestrained austerity could carry a hefty price-tag.

Students, who flocked to the streets across Italy and Greece, are opposing what they called the ‘bankers’ governments’ and the economic situation that they say is threatening their future.

“I’m young. And I can talk with people close in age to me. And they feel alone,” freelance journalist Federico Maselli tells RT.

All these students have a lot to be unhappy about. The dire economic situation has seen youth unemployment hit crippling levels in struggling economies. And despite recent political overhauls, both the public and the markets remain unconvinced that a viable solution has now been found.

With Eurozone leaders failing to get a handle on the crisis, RT has gone back to school – to the University of Vergata in Rome, in order to ask some of the youngest and brightest economic minds in Italy what they think should be done.

“There is, of course, a need for reforms, but probably that’s not enough, because reforms will only have effect with time, in 15 or 20 years,” Elena Innocenzi, a European economy and law student shared her views with RT. “There is also a need, I think, for public expenditure, but with a look to the debt market.”

So what do they think the solution is?

“Until now they’ve only talked about cutting. Cut the deficit, cut expenditure, increase taxes and so on, but I guess it is not the way,” finance and economics student Stefano Iabi explains. “OK, you are trying to put a little bottle of water in a big fire, but in my opinion you need growth, without growth you can’t afford the future.”

Promoting growth in these stagnating economies has proved one of the major challenges in an age of EU-imposed austerity.

“It’s extremely difficult. Whenever we talk about these things we say that we need to grow faster again. But how you can grow faster when everybody is having austerity measures is a mystery,” says economist Marcello de Cecco.

Technocrat governments are now in place to attempt to bring the countries’ finances back in line in Italy and Greece. Mario Monti and Lucas Papademos are undeniably well set with their experience to face these challenges. But at 68 and 64 respectively, they are no spring chickens, and with an aging political class around them, there has seemingly been little room for the younger generation to have their say.

Tom Gallagher, who is an Emeritus Professor of Politics at Bradford University, says the EU power brokers have simply forgotten what democracy looks like.

“Democracy is being pushed out of the picture by the EU power brokers. They are not interested in hearing what people’s views are,”
he told RT. “They don’t regard it necessary to have any popular legitimacy. The very harsh austerity measures it seems will be imposed for many years to come. They seem to be very self-confident that people will just lie down and accept these measures without any kind of democratic approval.”