PACE: austerity measures should be compatible with democracy and social rights

Strasbourg, 26.06.2012 – The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) today expressed concern about the consequences of austerity measures on democracy and social rights standards. The Assembly said that “budgetary cuts in social expenditure risk further deepening the crisis and undermining social rights.” It also pointed out that the implementation of austerity measures is often linked to bodies “whose character raises questions of democratic legitimisation”, such as the troika of the IMF, the European Commission and the ECB.

Endorsing the proposals of the rapporteur (Andrej Hunko, Germany, UEL), the Assembly called for a profound re-orientation of current austerity programmes to end “their quasi-exclusive focus on expenditure cuts in social areas such as pensions, health services or family benefits.”

It called on European governments to adopt measures to increase public revenues by taxing higher income categories and property wealth more strongly, by shoring up the tax base and by enhancing tax collection, the efficiency of the tax administration and the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion. They should also look into the possibilities for introducing new taxes on certain types of financial transactions across Europe.

Lastly, states should consider measures aimed at modernising democratic structures and processes by means of new forms of citizen participation and consultation, such as referendums, wherever the constitution or legislation provide for such possibilities.