'Wasting a whole generation of people in Europe is stupid'
Frustration with austerity is deepening among Europeans, with
one in five of the workforce without a job in Portugal and Spain's
unemployment jumping to a record of 27.2 per cent.
People in the two heavily-indebted nations are launching fresh protests against their governments and international lenders.
Member of European Parliament from Portugal, Rui Tavares, believes having so many young and educated people out of jobs is Europe’s biggest tragedy.
RT:More anti-austerity protests are planned for Thursday. What's fuelling the anger now among the Portuguese?
Rui Tavares: Today is the day of the 39th anniversary of our revolution (the Carnation Revolution of 1974). This revolution for us means a bloodless coup. The flowers were put in the rifles of the soldiers that not a single bullet was fired. But for us, it means the power of democracy – for prosperity, for dialogue, for a better education for everybody, for access to the universities – to overcome the illiteracy that we had in Portugal in those years. And what austerity means for us today is the possibility that we’ll lose it all. That our best generation will emigrate to Brazil and Angola, and the UK, and the US. That the investments that we did will be lost and that we’ll go back in history.
RT:We’ve heard people talking about the “financial fascism” being imposed upon the Portuguese?
Rui Tavares: Upon the Portuguese and the Europeans, at large. I think that when you talk about fascism there’s a split in the European consciousness. People in Germany are living in a different world now, but we don’t renounce our rights to persuade them, to convince them that this austerity is stupid. Not because the Portuguese can’t live with scarce means. We can. But because it’s not working and it won’t work.
RT:We see demonstrations not only in Portugal, but in neighboring Spain as well where the people took to the streets, following the announcement of huge unemployment figures (27.2 per cent). Is there a fear that this could spread to Portugal? Is there solidarity between the Portuguese and their Spanish brothers?
Rui Tavares: Yes, of course. Our youth live in a very similar situation. One third of our youth is unemployed. The other third have very bad jobs. And that’s what you want to tell Europe: ‘isn’t it stupid to waste a whole generation of people – to have it not working’. These are very bright people, very educated people. If you go around Lisbon, you’ll see what they can do. Isn’t it stupid to have them out of a job? Today I think that’s the worst kind of waste that you can have on the continent, in the EU that we have today.
RT:As a European parliament member, you have a chance to put your ideas forward. If you could speak to your colleagues from Germany, France and the Netherlands – what would you say to them right now?
Rui Tavares: I speak to them every day. I tell my Dutch colleagues that 20 of our biggest companies are paying taxes in the Netherlands, not here. They’re making their money here, but paying their taxes there. I tell my German colleagues that it’ll be much better if they want to close down their nuclear power plants to have solar energy, coming from Portugal to the North. So there’s a way that we can work together. It’s not just the way that’s Berlin and Frankfurt on to the South. But there is a more intelligent, a more clever way that we can work together. And, you know, finally build this European Union.