Tag Archives: European Union

(503) Caritas Europa report on poverty

Caritas EuropaWave of Action demonstrations got underway in continental Europe today.  The intention is to register unhappiness with austerity and herald a return of the energies behind the Occupy movement.  North American mainstream media seems intent on ignoring/under reporting the Wave of Action but that will likely change.  Austerity has burdened Europe for some time now and the Wave of Action is just the next part in a much longer and deeper social tradition of serious public reaction to government policy than is found in North America.

Released just days ago is a major report from Catholic agency Caritas Europa describing the socio-economic difficulty faced by millions that has called forth austerity and a host of angry reactions to it.  Devastating reading.  A growing underclass of people in several countries in the EU are even having trouble keeping themselves fed.  Photos of children picking food out of street garbage is not the preferred image associated with a continent known for its culture and beautiful public spaces.

Official notions of recovery are challenged in the report.  It sets out the origins and scale of the problem and the deeply unjust nature of austerity in which those who did not create the crisis are asked to bear a punishing set of correctives dictated by those who did.  This report describes the origins and key impacts of the crisis with a special emphasis on the hardest hit nations.

Wake up North America.

Caritas Europa. Crisis monitoring report, 2014. The European crisis and its human cost. A call for fair alternatives and solutions
116-page .pdf file

(240) EU report on the costs of automobility

About £600 pounds or nearly $1000 Canadian dollars per year is the direct external cost to everyone in the EU for the car population they live with.  This is the estimated impact of the noise, pollution, accidents and other liabilities described in a new report.  Obviously automobiles confer advantages on those who use them but of equal importance is the associated cost and who bears that cost.  North Americans may be a little more familiar with the controversial assertion that motorization is enormously subsidized, at amounts greater than what is collected in parking fees, fines, road tolls, licensing, gasoline taxes and other excises directed at the car.  This 52-page report is from Technisches Universitat Dresden’s Friedrich List Faculty of Tansport and Traffic Science and appears to weigh against the general sustainability of large fleets of privately owned vehicles which must, in turn, make us think closely about building car-dependent communities.

The true costs of automobility: external costs of cars, overview of existing estimates in the EU-27 

Car pollution, noise and accidents ‘cost every EU citizen £600 a year’: researchers challenge view that drivers are overtaxed, saying they are subsidised by other taxpayers Guardian UK

image: Horch 920 by Matej Bat’ha via Wikimedia Commons

(220) Spain reels

Spain should be enjoying the fruits of EU membership and decades of general progress on top of a strong (and diverse) sense of culture and a warm climate.  The unemployment and fiscal mental illness of the country at the moment makes for some tough reading instead.  Within the lifespan of today’s Generation Xer’s Spain had a 1930s style Fascist government.  The country was always much beset by poverty and separatist movements (at times quite violent) and the historical burden of civil war was never far from mind.  Despite these negative factors, Spain did well in recent decades, becoming more fully industrialized and trade orientated.  Large investments were made in education and infrastructure which make it harder to fully understand the present mess.  According to Eurostat data the unemployment rate in Spain hit 25.5% this summer with much higher rates for youth.

Amid poverty, food ‘expropriations’ spread across Spain
Web site wagingnonviolence.org gives some coverage to politically-motivated raids on food stores and residential squatting for poor families in Andalusia.  It’s tough to imagine Canadians and Americans pulling nervy, creative stuff like this at Wal-Mart, but one never knows.

In Spain, millions forced below poverty line Voice of America video 2:43
VOA visits Mostoles, a working class suburb of Madrid and finds engineers going to community kitchens for meals, people out of work for years now and a gloomy sense of the future.  Spain/EU approaches to public finance and banking seems to have produced dysfunctional effects not dissimilar to those produced by American and British approaches.