Alternative Solutions to the Debt Crisis Conference Report

Added 15 May 2014
In March 2014, Eurodad and the Brussels office of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung brought together politicians, academics and civil society activists from Europe and other regions to discuss alternative solutions to the debt crisis. The conference was scheduled to take place in Brussels in the run up to May’s European Parliament elections – the first European elections since the global financial crisis turned into the European debt crisis, and a key opportunity to change the path of European debt policies.

In an age of austerity, in which public spending cuts and structural adjustment programmes are the default answer for governments and international institutions to surging sovereign debt levels, this conference aimed to find more effective and just ways out of the crisis. It aimed to promote the debate about alternative solutions to the austerity policies, bank bail-outs and creditor domination that crisis-hit countries in Europe and beyond have had to endure over the past few years. The ultimate goal was to develop a compendium of alternative solutions and to mobilise the political pressure for their implementation.

Experts and affected citizens from different crisis countries in Europe and the Middle East and Northern African (MENA) region made presentations about how the debt crisis had affected their countries. They described which policy options they expect their parliaments and governments to take, but also the many ways in which citizens are resisting attempts to solve their crisis through adjustments on their costs. The idea was to learn from each other and to connect social movements and activists.

Debt crises are not new, although (Western) Europe has largely managed to avoid them since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Many developing countries have more recently experienced how debt crises are used to impose neo-liberal transformation processes on them. Some countries have managed to escape. Experienced activists from countries such as Argentina and Ecuador presented case studies where alternative solutions were applied. The idea was to see if these solutions can be introduced in the currently affected countries too.

The conference also aimed to develop a concrete position about the role of the European institutions in solving debt crises. This was a timely question, as the European Parliament had just released a report on the role and operations of the Troika of the European Central Bank (ECB), European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with regard to the Euro area programme countries. This report pointed out that there was no appropriate legal basis for setting up the Troika, and that the programme conditions did not respect the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. For EU citizens and their elected representatives, it is now time to decide who else should make the decisions about managing the debt crisis, and on what basis.

This report provides a summary of the conference and is based on the presentations that experts gave at the conference, and the interventions of conference participants. It concludes with a menu of options, the alternative solutions to debt crises. It does not prescribe or prioritise any of these solutions. It is intended to inform citizens and decision-makers that there are indeed many alternatives, and that their implementation is simply a question of political will.

To watch filmed interviews with our keynote speakers go to our video page.